Speeding is a major factor in many of the fatal crashes that occur on Tampa’s streets. Excessive speed reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway, extends the distance necessary to stop a vehicle, and increases the amount of damage in a crash. Understanding the characteristics and causes of speed-related crashes can help guide efforts to improve traffic safety in Tampa.
Speeding Is a Major Factor in Fatal Crashes
Higher speeds dramatically increase both the risk of being involved in a crash and the severity of crash injuries and damage. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding increases the risk of a crash and its consequences. Crash forces increase exponentially with speed. For example, a crash at 65 mph produces over twice the force of a crash at 45 mph. This makes injuries to vulnerable road users like pedestrians much more catastrophic.
Higher speeds also reduce the ability of drivers to avoid crashes by extending the distances traveled during driver perception and reaction times and vehicle braking distances. At higher speeds, drivers have less time to spot hazards, react, and maintain control. Speeding reduces the driver’s safety margin for avoiding crashes.
Characteristics of Speed-Related Crashes in Tampa
Many fatal speed-related crashes in Tampa occur on major arterials and highways. Roads like Dale Mabry Highway, Hillsborough Avenue, and I-4 tend to have higher speed limits and heavy traffic volumes. This combination encourages speeding behavior. Excessive speeds on these roads diminish reaction times and lead to serious crash outcomes.
Certain areas of Tampa see higher concentrations of fatal speed crashes. The neighborhoods just north of downtown Tampa and east of Ybor City have many signalized intersections and pedestrian traffic, but also have roads designed for high speeds. This mismatch contributes to crashes. Other areas like Westshore see high crash rates due to major highways and exit ramps experiencing congestion and speed variance between lanes.
Late night and early morning hours show heightened speed crash risk in Tampa. Reduced congestion enables and encourages speeding behavior during these times. However, drowsiness and impaired driving also tend to occur more frequently late at night. Combining excessive speed with diminished reaction times leads to deadly crashes. Weekend nights are particularly risky in Tampa.
Why Speeding Is Prevalent in Tampa
Drivers often feel pressure to speed up to keep pace with the flow of traffic. Tampa lacks traffic calming measures on many roads. This enables a culture of keeping up with fast-moving cars. Drivers unconsciously adapt to going 5-10 mph over the speed limit to avoid becoming an impediment to others. Public awareness campaigns could help address these social norms.
Many Tampa roads are designed for higher speeds. Multi-lane arterials with wide lanes, no curb extensions, and minimal landscaping psychologically suggest higher speeds to drivers. Traffic signals are also spaced far apart on roads like Hillsborough Avenue and Fowler Avenue, enabling acceleration between intersections. Redesigning roads to encourage lower speeds could reduce speeding.
Enforcement of speed limits in Tampa is inconsistent. Police staffing limitations prevent comprehensive speed limit enforcement, especially late at night when speed crashes are most likely. Highly visible, well-publicized enforcement could create an awareness of legal consequences and behavioral change. Automated speed enforcement could also supplement police efforts.
Solutions to Reduce Speeding Crashes
Increased speed enforcement would deter speeding behavior most directly. More police could be assigned to targeted enforcement on high crash corridors, with a priority on nighttime hours. Highly publicized enforcement would maximize awareness and behavioral impacts. Automated speed cameras could also help enforce speed limits.
Roadway engineering changes could also reduce speeds. Narrower lanes, speed humps, chicanes, raised medians, roadside landscaping, and lane reductions all psychologically cue lower speeds. Intersection modifications like curb extensions shorten crossing distances for pedestrians. Lower speed limits could be enacted for problem roads and areas.
Education and awareness campaigns can also alter social attitudes about speeding. Media messaging about the dangers of speeding and local speed-related crash stories could help change social norms. Traffic safety education starting at young ages could encourage prudence. More visible signage and speed displays could also continually remind drivers of legal speeds.
In summary, excessive speeding is a major contributing factor in fatal crashes on Tampa’s streets. Understanding the characteristics and causes of speeding can help transportation planners and law enforcement reduce risks through combined strategies of engineering, education, and enforcement. Addressing Tampa’s speeding problem will require a concerted, multi-faceted effort, but has the potential to save many lives.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a speed-related crash in Tampa, call the experienced Tampa auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher DeBari today at (727) 656-7852 for a free consultation. They have the knowledge and resources to help you obtain full compensation. Don’t delay – call today.
Q: What are the most common outcomes of speed-related crashes?
A: The most common outcomes are injuries to vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists, as well as rollover crashes and head-on collisions at high speeds. Speeding also contributes to hit-and-run crashes as drivers flee crash scenes.
Q: How can road design discourage speeding?
A: Traffic calming features like speed humps, narrower lanes, chicanes, pedestrian islands, and visual landscaping cues can reduce speeds. Roundabouts and converted intersections also reduce high-speed straightaways.
Q: How does speeding impair drivers at night?
A: The combination of speeding and fatigue or intoxication significantly impairs reaction times and hazard perception at night. This leads to reduced safety margins and ability to avoid crashes in darkness.
Q: Do all drivers speed or certain groups more than others?
A: Young male drivers disproportionately engage in speeding behavior. However, many drivers speed simply to maintain pace with traffic flow. Public awareness campaigns could address societal speeding norms.
Q: How do lower speed limits improve safety?
A: Lower speed limits allow more time for drivers to react and vehicles to brake. They also reduce crash severity. Combined with road design changes and enforcement, lower limits can significantly reduce risks.