Source: WalletHub

A new Wallet Hub study finds that Colorado is the strictest state in the United States on speeding and reckless driving. Although students are taught in driver’s ed classes that speed kills, American drivers “routinely” exceed the speed limit, Alina Comoreanu writes for Wallet Hub. In 2013, speeding was a factor in 29% of fatal car accidents, Wallet Hub notes.

Wallet Hub’s list of the top 10 states that are strictest on speeding and reckless driving also includes Arizona, Delaware, Illinois, New Mexico, Virginia, Iowa Massachusetts, Alabama, and the District of Columbia. The states that Wallet Hub ranked as least strict in their laws for speeding and reckless driving are: Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and ranked last, Texas.

The study looked into each state and the District of Columbia, and based its findings on the following metrics:

  • Speeding automatically considered as reckless driving (Over 25 mph in Colorado);
  • Whether the speed limit is fixed or relative (Mixed in Colorado);
  • The average insurance cost hike after one speeding ticket (18% in Colorado);
  • Whether the state prohibits highway racing (Yes in Colorado);
  • Whether or not the state uses automatic speed cameras (Yes in Colorado);
  • Whether the state gives extra penalties for aggressive driving (No in Colorado);
  • How much one speeding ticket counts towards a license suspension (33% in Colorado); and
  • How many points the state gives for speeding (8.5 in Colorado).

The study also considered the following about each state’s laws regarding reckless driving:

  • Whether or not it suspends a driver’s license for speeding: (No in Colorado);
  • The minimum jail time each state levies for a first reckless driving offense (10 days in Colorado);
  • The minimum fine a state gives for a first offense ($300 in Colorado);
  • The minimum jail time a state requires for a second offense (10 days in Colorado);
  • The minimum fine each state levies for a second offense ($1,000 in Colorado); and
  • The total points each state gives a reckless driver (9.5 in Colorado).

Lindsey Pallares writes for that in western Colorado, one third of the traffic violations that the Colorado State Patrol responds to are traffic infractions. In Mesa County, the average speeding ticket fine is $169, Pallares writes. She quotes Colorado State Trooper Dan Chermok as cautioning drivers that speeding is courting disaster, along with texting while driving and driving while drunk or high. “You add all those things that slow down your reaction time and put a high speed in the mix, it makes things much more dangerous for the passengers and the drivers,” Chermok said.

Regarding the Wallet Hub study, Claire Sisun and Ryan Haarer write for 9News:

The study does not account for violations per capita. It also says driving over 25 mph is automatically considered reckless driving. While that threshold is frequently used by Colorado law enforcement, 25 mph is not written into law.

It also says the minimum time in jail one could spend for reckless driving in Colorado is 10 days — which weighs heavily in Wallethub’s ranking system. While this is true it does not happen often. Fines are more likely and the minimum in Colorado is $300, one of the lowest in the country.

In answer to Wallet Hub’s questions on what states can do to reduce road rage and aggressive driving, Mathew G. Nagler, associate professor of economics at City College of New York, Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, had several suggestions, as Wallet Hub writes. He said that while traditional strong enforcement approaches — in which highway officers look for signs of aggressive driving, and drivers are asked to call a hotline to report aggressive drivers — are somewhat useful, methods to resolve the underlying causes can achieve greater success.

Nagler’s studies have found that highway safety is related to “social capital — the strength of interpersonal ties within a community of people, and particularly their degree of trust of one another.” Building stronger and more stable communities — via such things as investing in parks, recreational opportunities, and county-level holiday and seasonal events — can reduce road rage and aggressive driving, Nagler said. In addition, such design elements as lining a street with trees can calm drivers, as can removing yellow lines from the middle of the road, and adding bike lanes and crosswalks, as is done extensively throughout Europe, Nagler said.

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