Newly released traffic safety report: Drivers want speeding to stop, still enjoy doing it

Americans almost unanimously agree speeding is a problem, yet seem to have difficulty kicking the habit, according to a report released in early December by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Washington State Patrol, in a press release regarding the study, reported 159 of a total 437 traffic fatalities in 2012 were caused by speeding. Those figures adhere closely to the national numbers, which list high road speeds as a factor in about a third of traffic fatalities.

The federal report used data gathered over five months in 2011 by conducting telephone interviews with 6,144 households. Interviewers asked Americans about their own speeding habits, their attitudes toward speeding, and their attitudes toward several countermeasures, including photo enforcement and electronic warning signs. All data was self-reported.

The good news: 96 percent of respondents to the survey did not report being in a speeding-related crash in the five years leading up to 2011, and 68 percent of those who reported being in an accident said they weren't injured. Further, only 9 percent of respondents reported being stopped for speeding in the year before being surveyed - 11 percent of the high-risk 16- to 20-year-old demographic reported being stopped in the same period. And fewer respondents reported speeding behaviors than in previous surveys from 1997 and 2002.

The bad: Though 91 percent of respondents agreed drivers needed to slow down on the road, 70 percent of them were classified as at least "sometimes speeders" based on answers to six questions designed to classify driver types. More than a quarter of respondents said they enjoyed the feeling of driving fast, and one-fifth reported they agreed with the statement "I try to get where I am going as fast as I can."

"Speeding deaths are entirely preventable,’" state patrol Chief John Batiste said in the agency's press release. "They result from the decision to speed. That decision creates risk for not only the speeding driver, but everyone else on the road with them."

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