Study: Driving just a little faster increases risk in a crash by a lot

Posted January 28, 2021 1:28 p.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2021 3:23 p.m. EST

— While driving, a small increase in speed can have a big impact on crash outcomes, according to crash tests from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Humanetics.

Using a Honda CR-V EX crossover, crash tests were performed at 40, 50 and 56 miles per hour.

Researchers found that driving at high speeds increased a driver's risk of injury or death.

“We conducted these crash tests to assess the effect of speeds on drivers and learned that a small increase could make a big difference on the harm to a human body,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Researchers said as crash speeds increased, so did structural damage to the car and forces on the dummy driver's body.

At 40 mph, there was minimal intrusion of the driver's space. But at 50 mph, there was noticeable damage to the driver's side door, dashboard and foot area. Then, at 56 mph, the car's interior was significantly damaged and the dummy driver's sensors showed severe neck injuries and possible fractures to the lower leg.

Researchers added that at 50 and 56 mph, the steering wheel's upward movement caused the dummy's head to go through the deployed airbag, which caused the face to smash into the steering wheel. This caused a high risk of facial fractures and severe brain injury.

Officials said while people often driver faster than posted speed limits, even when officials raise speed limits, people still drive faster.

A study in 2019 shows that raising speed limits has cost over 37,000 lives in past 25 years.

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