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Word Count: 513
The Perils of Speeding America is becoming a nation of speed freaks reported US News and World Report in its 1998 story entitled The American Autobahn Americans like to speed on their highways however most Americans do not fully understand the repercussions of their actions Speeders endanger the lives of everyone on the road and unfortunately no one is immune to its effects Many fast drivers question the adverse effects of higher speeds Yet studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration consistently prove a single fact increased speed equals increased fatalities A NHTSA study in 1972 indicated 43 traffic fatalities occurred for hundred miles traveled or around 54500 total deaths Of these deaths almost one-third were directly related to speeding In 1973 Congress enacted a mandate forcing the states to establish a maximum speed limit of fiftyfive miles-per-hour A comparable study conducted the next year by the National Research Council found that fatalities due to speed had dropped by almost 4000 a decrease near twenty-two percent clearly proving the link between higher speeds and fatalities However government statistics should not be the only factor that deters speeders Common sense should play a factor as well According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety four different factors affect crashes in relation to speed The first is reaction time drivers who speed have less time to spot hazards and react to emergencies The second is reaction distance the faster a car is driving the more distance is needed for it to stop in reaction to a hazard or emergency The third factor is crash severity The IIHS has found in studies that crash severity increases by the square of the speed so that when speed increases from forty to sixty miles-per-hour speed goes up fifty percent while the energy released in a crash more than doubles Lastly speed causes protective devices such as seat-belts air bags guardrails and impact attenuators to become less effective increasing
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