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Fewer people on road is no excuse to speed
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Fewer people on road is no excuse to speed

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With fewer people on the roads during the coronavirus pandemic, it seems nearly all states are reporting that those on the roads are speeding more than ever. The result is making deadly highways even deadlier.

Speeding is dangerous and claims the lives of nearly 10,000 Americans every year. It is responsible for more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the U.S.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration considers a crash to be speeding-related if one of the drivers is cited for a speeding-related offense or if an officer determines that driving too fast for conditions, racing or exceeding the speed limit was a contributing factor in the crash.

While NHTSA data shows both the share of traffic fatalities related to speeding and the speeding-related fatality rate have been declining in recent years, these rates vary at the state level. Nationwide, the average annual speeding-related fatality rate for the five year period from 2014-18 was 2.97 per 100,000 people. However, at the state level, there is a statistically significant relationship between speeding-related fatalities per capita and the maximum posted speed limit in the state. States with higher posted speed limits often experience more speed-related fatalities.

In light of the increase in speeding during COVID-19, researchers at CoPilot, a car shopping app that helps guide users through the buying process, examined which states and counties historically suffer from the most speeding-related deaths. The analysts used data from the NHTSA, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to rank which states have the most speeding-related fatalities as a share of all vehicle fatalities. It is worth noting that the data used in the analysis was collected from 2014-18 and therefore does not reflect recent driving behavior in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The analysis found that in South Carolina, 39.8% of total traffic deaths involve speeding. Out of all states, South Carolina has the eighth-highest percentage of traffic deaths that involve speeding in the U.S. Here is a summary of the data for South Carolina:

• Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 39.8% of total

• Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 7.59

• Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 1,930

• Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 4,848

• Maximum posted speed limit: 70 mph

• Worst county for speeding: Spartanburg

For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

• Traffic fatalities that involve speeding: 27.0% of total

• Speeding-related traffic fatality rate per 100k: 2.97

• Total traffic fatalities that involve speeding (past 5 years): 48,622

• Total traffic fatalities (past 5 years): 180,067

• Maximum posted speed limit: 85 mph (Texas)

• Worst county for speeding: Washington County, RI

While fewer cars on the road might lull drivers into a false sense of security, too many people continue die. Before the pandemic and now, South Carolina was one of the most dangerous places to drive. How great a “new normal” would be if that could change. Slow down!


For more information, a detailed methodology and complete results for all states and counties, you can find the original CoPilot report at



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