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Speeding has accounted for 28 percent of fatal crashes, 13 percent of injury crashes, and 9 percent of property-damage-only crashes in 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Speeding-related fatalities increased by about 8 percent between 2020 and 2021 with the 15- to 20-year-old age group cited as the most involved, marking 2021 as having the highest level of speeding-related deaths since 2017.

Defining a speed-related crash

NHTSA considers any crash where the driver was charged with a speeding-related offense speeding-related. Additionally, a crash is considered speeding-related if the officer specifies any of these three factors:

  • The driver was exceeding speed limits,
  • The driver was driving too fast for the road conditions, or
  • The driver was racing.

Who was involved?

About 32 percent of all drivers involved in 2021 speeding-related crashes did not have a valid driver’s license. Drivers who speed also proved more likely to have a history of recorded crashes, convictions, and license suspensions than non-speeding drivers.

Overall, speeding drivers were more likely than non-speeding drivers to:

  • Have higher levels of blood alcohol concentrations,
  • Be unrestrained (no seat belts), and
  • Be male.

Alcohol-impaired drivers who were involved in speeding crashes were most likely to be between the ages of 35 and 44. The percentage of fatalities nearly doubled when an alcohol-impaired driver was speeding.

Unrestrained drivers were more likely than restrained drivers to speed. Over half of passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal speeding-related crashes were not wearing restraints during the crash.

Male drivers across all age groups were consistently the most involved in speeding-related crash fatalities. While most speeding accidents involved 15- to 20-year-olds, drivers aged 21 to 54 were also involved in significant rates of speeding-related crash fatalities.

Worried about slowing down in a heavy vehicle? The DOT might have something to help! Check out this article on the DOT’s proposal for automatic brakes in heavy vehicles.

Where did it happen?

The majority (87 percent) of speeding-related crashes happened on non-interstate highways. As far as road conditions, speeding factored into fatal crashes for:

  • 33 percent of drivers on icy/frosty roads,
  • 32 percent of drivers on snowy/slushy roads,
  • 22 percent of drivers on wet roads, and
  • 18 percent of drivers on dry roads.

In 2021, the states with the highest percentage of speed-related fatalities include Hawaii, DC, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wyoming, while Texas and California had the most fatal accidents overall. NHTSA notes that 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. were speeding related.

Learn more and get more in-depth research on 2021 speeding reports at 2021 Data: Speeding (dot.gov).