Grimes & Fertitta, P.C.

Everyone speeds, and the government actually expects it

You come over a hill and spot a police car sitting in the median. What do you do? If you're like most people, you instinctively reach for the brake pedal. A line of red lights ahead of you shows that everyone else is doing the same thing.

Why is this such an instinct? You do it before you even look at the speedometer. It's second nature.

The reason is simple: You assume that you are speeding. It's so common that most people figure they're breaking the law at all times. Whether you are or not, you press the brakes to avoid the ticket that you already think you deserve.

Everyone does it

You're certainly not alone. Almost everyone speeds, it seems, and many people do not even think about speed limit laws as anything more than guidelines. They provide a general basis for how fast you can travel, not a "limit" as the name implies. At least, that's the common thought process among drivers who break those limits.

Here's the thing: The government knows very well that everyone is going to break the speed limit. In fact, some reports indicate that they actually make speed limits lower than they need to be, assuming people will then break the limits and drive closer to the speed they should have been driving in the first place.

"Now, there are some roads where the speed limit should be posted as 45 but they end up getting posted at 35 because they expect people to go faster," said one economics professor. If people then collectively break the limit by five or 10 miles per hour, they may feel like they're getting away with something, but they're really just going 40 or 45 miles per hour in what engineers felt should be a 45 mph zone anyway.

Increased risks

That said, the same professor noted that this tactic is not used on all roads. In many cases, the limit is just that: The limit for safe speeds. This is especially true, he said, in residential neighborhoods where you may have kids in the street and other such hazards.

In these situations, speeding becomes very dangerous. Reaction times drop and so accidents become harder to avoid. Speeds increase, which, in turn, increases the amount of energy in a collision, making that crash more likely to produce serious injuries or fatalities.

Drivers make mistakes. When they're speeding as they make those mistakes, they face far higher chances of causing an accident. There is just no room for error. And yet everyone continues to speed.

Your options

Have you suffered a serious injury because of a reckless, speeding driver? Have you lost a loved one? Either way, you must know all of the legal options that you have to seek out compensation.

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