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Speeding remains an alarmingly high factor in crashes resulting in fatalities and serious injuries and is also under reported within crash reports. A crash is considered to be speeding-related if any driver in the crash was charged with a speeding-related offense or if a police officer indicated that racing, driving too fast for conditions, or exceeding the posted speed limit was a contributing factor in the crash.
Most crashes involve the element of speed, but there are many reasons why a determination of speeding may not be indicated on a crash report. Other factors and the level of investigation into causes in a crash, including possible impairment, distraction, or weather conditions are often the focus of crash reports.
While often not involving injuries, we see many minor crashes on a regular basis - with spikes during rainy or snowy weather - many related to people driving too fast or not slowing down in times of reduced visibility and poor traction.
In Rhode Island, in the past two years with data available (2017-2018), speed was a likely factor in more than 45 percent of all traffic fatalities. That’s a sharp rise compared with prior years (2012-2016) when the numbers averaged about 38 percent. We also saw a big jump in the total number of speed-related fatalities, with 41 in 2017 compared to 23 in 2016. The cities of Providence and Cranston have the highest numbers of speeding crashes among Rhode Island communities
When looking deeper into the numbers for 2011-2015, we found a high percentage of speeding as a contributing factor in crashes occurring on non-highway roads; that being roads with speed limits of 30 mph or less or 50 mph or less.
We have partnerships with local community groups, safety organizations and law enforcement agencies that are all working together to educate motorists and enforce speeding laws to change behaviors. This partnership is using a data-driven approach to identify speeding "hot spots" so media outreach and law enforcement efforts can target these areas accordingly.
Although we know speeding is a widespread concern, we ask that law enforcement take a deeper dive into their local data to find these hot spots. This provides an opportunity for a pre and post evaluation of hot spot efforts to gauge the effectiveness of their efforts to change behaviors within their community.
In Spring 2020 RIDOT launched a new advertising campaign called “Know the Limits,” which focuses on the consequences of speeding such as jail time or a much higher likelihood of dying in a crash at excessive speeds.
In the summer, we plan to partner with the Northeast Region of Traffic Safety Advocates for an enforcement program with the same consistent message used across the country: "When speeding kills, it's never an accident."
Rhode Island has a high percentage of fatal crashes with speeding as a contributing factor. Know the Limits - obey all posted limits and reduce your speed as appropriate in times of adverse weather, in work zones and when passing emergency services help with a crash or disabled vehicle.