One in 10 US Drivers Say They’ve Broken Speed Limits - By a Lot - During the Pandemic

US Highway speeding survey 7 photos
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As part of the survey by an American insurer, drivers came clean when it comes to their penchant for driving 20 or more mph over the speed limit during the early months of the pandemic - and more than half of those drivers say their choice to put the pedal to the metal has continued now that the pandemic is easing.
These results have highway safety organizations sounding rather jumpy, and they say they’re launching programs to combat speedy driving.

The survey reveals that more than one in 10 drivers - 11% to be exact - admitted to driving at speeds of more than 20 mph over posted speed limits and that behavior was ratcheted up during the early months of the pandemic.

One-third of the drivers in the survey also say they observed other drivers speeding more often, and of those, 57% said they looked on as drivers reached “extreme speeds.”

Analysis from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says traveling at high speeds makes fatal car crashes more likely and that ‘crash energy increases exponentially as speeds go up. According to the IIHS, data from 2019 revealed that more than 9,000 deaths - one in four car crash fatalities - were the result of speed-related crashes.

"We commissioned this survey to draw attention to the fact that speeding is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths, but the good news is that it's a problem we can all do something about. It's within the power of every driver to simply drive within the speed limit. That would save literally thousands of lives each year," says Jon Bloom, the vice president of personal auto for Erie Insurance.

As for their excuses for driving well over posted limits, two-thirds of drivers say uncongested roads led them to feel it was safe to drive faster than posted speed limits, just under half said the fact that as good drivers, they felt they could drive safely at high speeds, slightly more than a third said the appearance of far less law enforcement made them feel they could speed without getting a ticket, one in four said they thought that posted speed limits are often slower than necessary and they prefer to drive faster and just over one in eight said lower traffic volumes offered them an opportunity to “see how fast their cars could go” safely.

As you might expect, younger drivers expressed the most confidence in their ability to drive fast with 71% of 18-24-year-olds offering that opinion, while just 19% of 45-54-year-old drivers expressed the same opinion.

And drivers were nearly united in their contention that "traffic control" measures such as narrow lanes or deliberately placed chicanes - curves placed into an otherwise straight road - made roads less safe as a result of those measures.

The survey was conducted online by Falls & Co. on behalf of Erie Insurance, from August 22 through September 2, 2021, among 500 U.S. licensed drivers ages 18 and older. Falls & Co. established the sampling quotas, designed the questionnaire, tabulated the survey responses, and managed the overall project.
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