Here are the states and counties with the worst speeding problem

National

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When lockdown orders from the COVID-19 pandemic went into effect across the country, car traffic declined significantly. But research from the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) shows that even though there were fewer cars on the road during this time, speeding and reckless driving increased. While the relatively empty streets might lull drivers into a false sense of security, speeding is still dangerous and claims the lives of nearly 10,000 Americans every year.

Speeding is responsible for more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) considers a crash to be speeding-related if one of the drivers is cited for a speeding-related offense or if an officer determines that driving too fast for conditions, racing, or exceeding the speed limit was a contributing factor in the crash.

While NHTSA data shows that both the share of traffic fatalities related to speeding and the speeding-related fatality rate have been declining in recent years, these rates vary at the state level. Nationwide, the average annual speeding-related fatality rate for the five year period from 2014-2018 was 2.97 per 100,000 people. However, at the state level, there is a statistically significant relationship between speeding-related fatalities per capita and the maximum posted speed limit in the state. States with higher posted speed limits often experience more speed-related fatalities.

Another significant factor in speed-related deaths is alcohol consumption. Data shows that over the past five years, 47 percent of all speed-related deaths involved a driver with a positive blood alcohol content (BAC). Among U.S. states, there is a strong positive correlation between the share of fatalities due to speeding and the share of drivers in fatal accidents with a positive BAC.

In light of the increase in speeding during COVID-19, researchers at CoPilot, a car shopping app that helps guide users through the buying process, wanted to examine which states and counties historically suffer from the most speeding-related deaths. The analysts used data from the NHTSA, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to rank which states have the most speeding-related fatalities as a share of all vehicle fatalities. It is worth noting that the data used in the analysis was collected from 2014-2018 and therefore does not reflect recent driving behavior in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are the U.S. states and counties with the worst speeding problem.


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15. Nevada

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 33.1% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 3.46
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 525
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 1,587
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 80 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Clark


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14. Montana

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 33.9% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 6.21
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 330
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 974
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 80 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Gallatin

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13. North Carolina

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 33.9% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 4.55
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 2,360
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 6,962
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 70 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Davidson


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12. Colorado

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 35.4% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 3.64
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 1,036
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 2,923
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 75 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Pueblo


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11. Missouri

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 36.5% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 5.28
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 1,618
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 4,436
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 70 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: St. Louis City


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10. New Mexico

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 36.6% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 6.50
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 681
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 1,860
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 75 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Sandoval


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9. Alaska

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 37.8% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 3.91
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 144
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 381
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 65 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Matanuska-Susitna

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8. South Carolina

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 39.8% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 7.59
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 1,930
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 4,848
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 70 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Spartanburg


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7. Illinois

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 39.9% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 3.21
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 2,043
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 5,121
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 70 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Will


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6. Vermont

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 40.3% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 3.86
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 121
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 300
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 65 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Chittenden


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5. Pennsylvania

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 41.9% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 3.87
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 2,477
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 5,910
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 70 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Fayette


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4. Rhode Island

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 42.8% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 2.35
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 124
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 290
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 65 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Washington


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3. Hawaii

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 43.8% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 3.28
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 233
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 532
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 60 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Honolulu

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2. District of Columbia

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 49.6% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 1.91
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 67
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 135
  • Maximum posted speed limit: N/A
  • Worst county for speeding: District of Columbia


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1. New Hampshire

  • Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 52.0% of total
  • Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 4.56
  • Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 309
  • Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 594
  • Maximum posted speed limit: 70 mph
  • Worst county for speeding: Rockingham

Methodology & Detailed Findings

Data on the total number of car fatalities, the number of speed-related fatalities, speed-related fatalities by sex and age and speeding-related to blood alcohol content are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The per capita rate of fatal speed-related accidents was calculated as the proportion of the total number of fatal speed-related crashes divided by the state population. For ease of interpretation, the per capita rates are per 100,000 people.

Data regarding speed limits, which are the maximum posted speed limits on rural interstates, are from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Population statistics are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey. Due to a small number of fatal accidents and speeding-related fatal accidents for some locations, numbers are reported for the years 2014-2018 to achieve higher consistency of the results.

Locations were ordered based on the share of all traffic fatalities that involve speeding. For each state, the county with the highest share of all traffic fatalities that involve speeding was reported as the worst county for speeding. Only counties with at least 100,000 residents were included in the analysis.

It might seem that drivers are most at risk of a speeding-related collision on major highways and freeways, where traffic tends to move faster and posted speed limits tend to be higher. However, about 60 percent of speed-related fatalities occur outside of major highways and freeways. In fact, 38 percent of all speeding-related fatalities between 2014 and 2018 occurred on primary streets (local streets and collectors that are used to drive short distances or connect to larger highways). After taking into account traffic volume on each road category, primary streets have the worst track record, with 4.28 speed-related deaths per billion miles traveled. By contrast, freeways have the lowest rate of speed-related deaths, at 1.65 per billion miles traveled.

Fatalities due to speeding are also strongly correlated to the driver’s age and gender. According to the NHTSA, almost a third of men aged 15-24 who were victims in a fatal crash had been driving faster than the posted speed limit. On the other hand, people over the age of 35 experienced a much lower probability of dying on the road due to speeding. Across all ages, females are less likely to die in a speed-related crash than males, although the probability among female drivers is still highest for the 15-24 age group.

Finally, it’s not only drivers and passengers who are at risk as a result of speeding. A GHSA report from February 2020—before the onslaught of the pandemic in the U.S.—found that pedestrians account for 17 percent of all traffic-related fatalities, including those due to speeding. The increase in pedestrian traffic during COVID-19 along with higher instances of speeding create a dangerous, and potentially fatal, combination. But as stay-at-home orders are lifted in large parts of the country, more drivers will return to the road. Organizations such as the GHSA continue to urge caution when driving, not only to keep the roads safer but also to reduce the burden on hospitals and healthcare workers by preventing traffic accidents in the first place.

Editor’s note: This story was syndicated by Lattice Publishing.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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