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National Safety Council: Persistent "speeding epidemic" requires new technology to slow us down

Benjamin Lehman
A car speeding at night

The National Safety Council says the U.S. should adopt "speed assistance" technology to address what it calls an epidemic of speeding since 2020.

Government data from federal safety regulators indicate that traffic deaths rose from 36,355 in 2019 to 42,795 in 2022, a nearly 18% increase, and speeding was a factor in at least 12,000 of those fatalities.

Speeding is also a big factor in the increase in deaths involving people on foot, which reached a 40-year high of nearly 7,500 in 2021, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association data analysis. The GHSA says early indications of 2022 data point to it being another incredibly deadly year for people walking.

The safety council says initially, cars should have technology that warns drivers that they're exceeding the speed limit. Eventually, the group says speed limiters — technology that limits how fast a car can go — should be mandated.

Mark Chung is the council's vice president of roadway safety. He said it might take time for people to accept such a change — just as it took them time to accept seat belts and fines for not wearing seat belts. But it would be worth it, he said, for everyone.

"We really need to look at the positives that have come from that," he said, "and apply it to addressing the problems that we see today. Speeding contributes to over 25% of traffic fatalities each year. So if we're able to slow down people, we not only could potentially save the life of that driver but also those that share the road, especially pedestrians, bicyclists — people outside of vehicles.

Chung said there is already some momentum on the issue in commercial trucking. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates commercial truck safety, is expected to announce a proposed mandate for speed limiters by the end of the year.

Copyright 2023 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.