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Archive for September, 2013

Here’s How Speeding Affects Your Driving Record

What a day! Through a series of unforeseen circumstances, you’re now running late for that important appointment. You get into your car, check the clock and realize just how far behind you are. “Not a problem,” you say to yourself. “I’ll just hit the gas and get there as quick as possible.”

The plan goes well at first. You’ve got your pedal to the metal and your favourite song is blasting away in the background. Just then, your heart jumps – red lights are flashing in your rear-view mirror and you realize you’ve just been caught speeding. Suddenly, being late doesn’t seem so important.

Just the facts

Let’s start with the facts about speeding, though that’s no easy task. Speeding is a surprisingly complex topic and, perhaps contrary to popular belief, most fatal accidents are not the result of speeding alone. However, speeding does remain a major cause of accidents – particularly serious ones.

A report originating in the United States from 2005 may be one of the most recent studies published on the topic of speeding. An analysis of the data revealed that, “in 2002, 13,713 fatalities – about a third of all fatalities that occurred in motor vehicle traffic crashes [in the United States] were related to speeding, in that at least one of the drivers involved in the crash was speeding.”¹

In Canada, a 2005 report cited that 24% of all fatalities that occurred in motor vehicle crashes were speeding-related. Though not the primary cause of traffic fatalities, this figure still represents a significant number of fatalities that could otherwise be avoided.

To combat this, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) has developed a plan called “Road Safety Vision 2010” which is aimed at making Canada’s roads the safest in the world². Although current data only charts progress made from 2002 to 2004, one third of the 30% overall national target had been achieved by the end of 2004.

A cash grab?

In terms of public perception, the issue of speeding has long been a contentious issue. Many Canadians believe that speed enforcement is simply a cash cow that fills the coffers of the various police departments across the country. But the reality is that, in countries where tougher sanctions against speeding have been implemented (Australia and the Netherlands, for instance), there have been impressive reductions in the number of fatalities and serious injuries during the past decade.

In Canada, programs such as the Road Safety Vision 2010 campaign have attempted to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries, but have met with only limited success thus far. Data from 2004 shows that, while the number of speed-related fatalities did decrease by 3.8%, the number of serious injuries actually increased by 22.3% during that same period. This has led provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario to introduce tougher laws aimed at excessive speeders, in the hope of significantly reducing both of these statistics.

Your driving record

The truth of the matter is that speeding tickets do affect your insurance rates. In fact, avoiding speeding tickets and other violations could save you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on your auto insurance rates each year. Although it may seem like a good idea at the time, it may well hurt you in the long-term.

Speeding tickets remain on your driving record for several years and, while on your record, can significantly increase your auto insurance premium. Additionally, having such violations on your record can make you ineligible for other ‘good driver’ discounts that would normally save you even more money on your annual premium.

But is punishment of speeders warranted? A California study revealed that drivers in that state with one speeding ticket citation in a three-year period had an average crash rate 50% higher than those with no infractions. For those drivers who had two or more tickets, the crash rate more than doubled.

The question of whether or not speeding tickets slow people down was addressed through an analysis of Ontario traffic statistics and published in the British medical journal, The Lancet. This study found that a conviction for a moving violation resulted in a 35% decrease in the risk of a fatal crash in the following month. It also showed that the assignment of penalty points to a driver’s licence (especially for speeding tickets) reduced the risk of crashes more than convictions without penalty points.

However, the study also showed that, four months later, this decrease had entirely disappeared. This suggests that people are more likely to forget about the violation (and resume their prior driving behaviour) as time passes – in even as little as four months. Just keep in mind that this same ‘memory loss’ will not occur on your driving abstract and certainly not in the eyes of your insurance company or your pocket-book.

¹ U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Technical Report released June 2005.

² Road Safety Vision 2010. 2005 Annual Report released by Transport Canada.

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