U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration

The Relation Between Speed and Crashes

Type of Resource: Fact Sheet
Authors: SWOV
Publisher: SWOV - Institute for Road Safety Research
Report Number (if applicable):
Year: 2011

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Resource Abstract:

The exact relation between speed and crashes depends on many factors. However, in a general sense the relation is very clear: if on a road the driven speeds become higher, the crash rate will also increase. The crash rate is also higher for an individual vehicle that drives at higher speed than the other traffic on that road. As speeds get higher, crashes also result in more serious injury, for the driver who caused the crash as well as for the crash opponent. The injury severity of the vehicle occupants in a crash, for example, is not only determined by the collision speed, but also by the mass difference between the vehicles and by the vulnerability of the vehicles/road users who are involved. In a crash between a light vehicle and a heavier one, the occupants of the lighter vehicle generally are considerably worse off than the occupants of the heavier vehicle. Even more so this is the case for pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders in crashes with (much) heavier motor vehicles.

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