Written by Gregory Monte.

NOTE: To give credit where credit is due, today’s post was inspired by some of the information I read in a letter to the editor written by National Motorist Association (NMA) member Tom McCarey.

Speed and Accidents

Speeding is a major factor in accidents, right?  I mean, that is common knowledge.  Anyone who doubts this must be a complete idiot.  After all, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has outright declared that:

“Speeding is at the top of the list of related factors for drivers involved in fatal crashes.”

But what is the hard evidence to back up this bold statement? 

The title of one of the charts provided by the NHTSA in its recent Facts + Statistics: Highway Safety provides a hint at this “evidence”:

“Reported” vs. Reality

“Driving Behaviors Reported For Drivers And Motorcycle Operators Involved In Fatal Crashes, 2017”

I underlined and bolded the word “reported” for a very specific reason. Just because the police report something, doesn’t mean that it actually happened.

Sounds crazy?

Consider what NMA member Tom McCarey rightly points out in his letter to the editor:

“Every police traffic report requires [at least] three entries for cause of accident, and excessive speed is almost always listed as one of the three whether or not the driver was actually speeding: it’s a throw-away entry. This gives NHTSA and the ‘safety’ lobby carte blanche, by manipulating their ‘statistics’ to raise the roof about all those maniacs slaughtering people on the highways, which is not true.”

The legal resources website Justia backs McCarey up on this point in its posting about police reports in car accident cases:

“A police officer usually will investigate the scene thoroughly so that they can include many types of information in the report. Some of these pieces of information are facts, while others are merely the opinions of the police officer. Examples of factual pieces of information include the date, time, and place of the crash, the identifying information of drivers and any witnesses, weather and road conditions, and areas of the vehicles that were damaged … By contrast, statements about what caused the collision and who was at fault for it are opinions.”

Here is an example of a police report from Ohio so you can see the check-off boxes for circumstances possibly contributing to an accident:

But, But, But …

“But speed kills,” cry the Traffic Ticket Nazis! “All speeders must be ticketed no matter what – it’s a mater of public safety!”

Not familiar with these “Nazis?” Here is how I described them in a previous post:

Traffic Ticket Nazi, noun: An individual who believes that tickets should be issued to all motorists for every minor traffic infraction. 

1 mph over the limit?  Ticket.

Roll through a stop sign when no one is within 200 feet of the intersection?  Ticket.

Air freshener “obstructing” the front window?  Ticket.

You get the idea …

I have my doubts that the Traffic Ticket Nazis will change their tune after reading my commentary today but you never know …

In tomorrow’s post, I will elaborate on another idea taken from Tom McCarey’s letter to the editor: the unfortunate fact that unfair and unnecessary enforcement of too-low speed limits will foster contempt for law enforcement.

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