The Hidden Costs of Speeding and What You Should Know Before You Slam on the Accelerator

·4 min read

We've been there—you're late for work, frantically rushing around, finally getting into the car. Although there is no way you're going to be on time at this point, you still floor it, hoping against hope that you'll slice off even a few minutes from your commute.

Despite the few miles driven last year, car crash fatalities increased by 7.2%. And speeding contributed to the increased fatalities. The likelihood is, no matter how hard you floor it, traffic simply won't allow you to get to work much faster.

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I remember the one and only time I got a speeding ticket. It was Memorial Day weekend, and I was finally heading home, with a multiple-hour road trip ahead of me. I was speeding—and just an hour and a half from home—when I got pulled over. My speeding ticket was $250, and the lawyer I hired to fight it also cost $250. When he didn't win, my car insurance went up by over $100 per month for two years. I was only 19 years old; it was financially devastating, and I've never got a speeding ticket since.

With the increased level of driving these days due to COVID-19 travel safety, flight cancelations, and more, it's important to have a full understanding of the financial and physical ramifications of speeding.

Let's be clear: Speeding doesn't always mean "driving above the speed limit." The speed at which you drive should be appropriate to the situation you are in. If it's raining cats and dogs or there's a blizzard outside, driving at a speed that makes it hard to come to a quick stop—even if it's technically at or below the posted speed limit—is also speeding, and the same ramifications apply.

Higher Likelihood of Accidents

The faster your car is going, the longer it takes it to slow down and, the more likely you are to lose control of it. This results in a higher chance of a car crash, sometimes even a fatal one. The National Highway Transportation Safety Association found that in 2019, "speeding was a contributing factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities." In fact, speeding is the leading cause of traffic fatalities—above alcohol, failure to yield, and distracted driving.

Hurting yourself in an accident can lead to time off of work unpaid, and medical bills. With even minor accident repairs, body repairs start at $1,000 and go up steeply from there. You may have to pay for alternate transportation while your car is being repaired. If you make an insurance claim, you'll have to pay your deductible, which can range from $250 to $1,000.

Speeding Tickets

Speeding tickets are big business. Depending on the area of the country you live in, it could be as much as 20% of the general fund of your home county or city's operating budget. Most people think of a speeding ticket as a one-off slap on the wrist, but the financial implications last much longer than that.

Multiple moving violations can lead to license suspension, required defensive driving classes, and other consequences. If you choose to hire a lawyer to fight the ticket in hopes of avoiding those consequences (or in hopes of at least having them reduced or removed), that costs money, too.

Increased Fuel Costs

Reckless driving costs you money at the pump, too. Fueleconomy.gov makes this very clear: Speeding "can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic."

Car Insurance Premium Increases

Car insurance companies like safe drivers. Reliably safe drivers. The more accidents you get into, the more expensive you are to insure. Insurance companies use your driver's record, in addition to credit history, vehicle, and many other factors to determine how risky of a person you are to insure.

Just one speeding ticket can significantly increase your premiums for two years or longer. Depending on the state you live in, your insurance company, and the rest of your driving record, you're looking at premiums going up anywhere from 8% to a whopping 44%.

The next time you get behind the wheel of your car, no matter the rush you are in, think about this: Speeding costs lives. Perhaps not yours, but perhaps the other drivers you share the road with. It also costs you a lot of money in the long run—whether it's in fuel or an increase in car insurance premiums. And of course those darn speeding tickets.