Changing Bad Habits Starts With Getting Motivated
When you paid an extra $10,000 to get the Ford Mustang with the 5.0-liter, V-8 engine, it seems a shame to keep the speedometer pegged at 65 mph. People used to write rock ‘n’ roll songs about the thrills of roaring power, quick acceleration, and irresistibly sweet, sweet speed.
The music and thrills grind to a stop, though, with your second speeding ticket and, worse yet, the deputy’s lecture. You already knew that speed factors into a majority of serious and fatal traffic accidents.
So how can you make yourself resist the urge to go faster than the law allows?
Speed Really Does Kill
Speeding was a factor in 27 percent of all fatal car accidents in the United States in 2016. That’s 10,111 people who are dead, likely because someone disregarded posted speed limits or couldn’t resist the urge, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The death toll was a 4 percent increase from 2015. The agency has yet to release national statistics for 2017.
Other factors contributing to the 37,461 U.S. road deaths in 2016 are:
- Drunk driving, 10,497 deaths
- Unbelted drivers and passengers, 10,428 deaths
- Motorcycle riding, 5,286 deaths
- Distracted driving, 3,450 deaths.
Through June, at least 263 people have died from auto accidents on Colorado streets, roads, and highways in 2018, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. And while it’s too early to tell how the death rate will compare with those of other years, state transportation and safety officials are concerned about increases in road deaths over the past seven years. A reported 648 people died from Colorado auto accidents in 2017, a 44 percent increase since 2011 when only 447 people died.
If speeding’s lethal effect in Colorado is on a scale with the rest of the country, then you can conclude that 175 people died here in speeding-related crashes in 2017. And in 2018, speed may have killed 71 people.
Costlier Than Just a Ticket
The Centennial State is no bargain if you like to drive faster than the law permits. Drivers caught zipping 20 mph over the limit must pay a $232 fine under state law, but can face harsher wallet drains depending on where they were driving and who issued the citation, according to economics blogger John Kuo of Nerdwallet.com, who in 2014 rated the most expensive and least expensive Colorado cities to drive too fast.
But the fine you’ll face is only the start of the joy of being taught a lesson. Speeding tickets will almost always cause your next car insurance premium to go up.
On average, Coloradans saw a $135.61 annual insurance premium increase after getting ticketed, Kuo wrote. And because the insurance increase will typically last three years, those speeding Coloradans ended up paying an extra $406.83, on average, after paying for the ticket itself. That $232 ticket is now costing you $638.83.
Those rate increases differ from city to city, Kuo reported. In Montrose, for example, a ticketed driver would likely see a $101.58 annual premium increase. A driver living in Fort Morgan, however, would see his or her insurance jump $78.57 post-ticket. Kuo blamed the disparity on base costs for insurance differing from place to place.
Here are Kuo’s three most-expensive Colorado cities to have auto insurance after a +20 mph speeding ticket (based on 2014 figures):
- Fort Morgan. The true cost of getting a traffic ticket while a resident there is $767.70.
- Castle Rock. That ticket’s true cost is $745.94
- You’ll end up paying $739.95
To make things worse, you should consider that Colorado insurance rates, as a whole, have been veering upward over the past seven years.
Repair Costs May Slow You Down
Popular Mechanics magazine listed sudden acceleration as one of the 10 worst habits for damaging your car. Flooring the accelerator and then, inevitably, having to mash the brakes to slow down is both bad for your car and expensive. Sudden acceleration uses lots of fuel and places a heavy burden on every component of your drivetrain. Sudden stops wear out your brake pads and rotors rapidly. Drive fast and expect the repair bills to follow.
Start Training Your Brain
Once you’ve been motivated to change your bad driving habits, how do you transform yourself into someone who obeys the speed-limit markers? You may take a cue from Psychology Today contributor Rubin Khoddam, who says addiction-treatment techniques can help you break more-ordinary bad habits.
Counselors in addiction-treatment programs encourage participants to manage waves of urges they encounter, Khoddam says. When you’re trying to resist them, some urges may feel like they go on forever, but in reality, they may last only 15 minutes and are related to specific triggers.
Recovering addiction patients sometimes call managing these feelings “urge surfing.” People experienced in recovery will see an urge wave rising, know it will pass and then “ride the wave” until it’s gone. Drivers can learn to tough it out and to stay under the limit for short distances at a time, and know it will get easier.
Urges don’t always spring from true addictions, however. They also flow from mental habits and reactions, he said. The urge is to react in the same way that we reacted in the past, sometimes to lash out in childish anger. People who break bad habits successfully learn to center their thoughts in the adult parts of themselves.
If you want to speed because you’re frustrated with Colorado’s heavy traffic, find out different, more mature ways to react to that frustration. Example: If you decide to relax and drive more slowly, then cars around you will seem to be moving faster.
Khoddam recommends that habit-breakers or changers use five tools to deal with impulses: delay, escape, avoid, distract, and substitute.
In terms of driving, put off speeding for a few minutes and know the strong feeling will go away. You can escape a situation that makes you want to speed by getting off of the highway, for example. Take another route. Substitute your urge to speed with something else. Suggestion: Try to be the best and smoothest driver you can imagine, get the best gas mileage ever. No sudden starts and stops, only graceful precision.
“We all have these urges that push us in the most difficult moments to react in the same ways we have in the past. But … if you do what you’ve always done, you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten.”