Centre for Road Safety

Driving too fast is the single biggest contributor to death and injury on NSW roads. Speeding consistently contributes to around 41 per cent of road fatalities and 24 per cent of serious injuries each year. This means almost 150 lives lost and 1,270 people seriously injured each year.

Over the five years from 2015 to 2019, 743 people were killed and 6,372 were seriously injured in speed-related crashes in NSW.

Your speed decides the outcome - watch our video or read a transcript.

Speeding is never safe. Speed increases both the risk of having a crash, as well as the severity of the crash outcome. The faster you are going:

  • The more time is needed to react and avoid a crash
  • The stopping distance required increases
  • The impact of a crash is more severe
  • The likelihood of death or serious injury increases.

Safer stopping distances

The faster you go, the longer it takes to stop. A typical stopping distance when travelling at 30 km/h on a reasonable road surface is 19 metres, while at the slightly faster speed of 40 km/h, the stopping distance increases to 27 metres.

If you are driving at 50 km/h, it will take you about 37 metres to stop, but at 60 km/h that distance increases significantly to 56 metres. Even a small difference in vehicle speed can make a large difference to the likelihood of death or serious injury. If a car hits a pedestrian at 50 km/h, the impact is twice as likely to kill the pedestrian than if the car had been travelling at 40 km/h.

In addition to speed, other factors affect stopping distances, including:

  • Distractions, fatigue or dim lighting, where drivers take longer to react
  • Wet roads or worn tyres, which can lengthen braking distances.

To reduce the risk of a crash, drivers should stay under the speed limit and drive to the conditions, such as slowing down in wet weather or poor visibility.

A small increase in speed can make a big difference to the seriousness of a crash. Any extra speed means extra impact force – and the human body can only tolerate limited physical forces before death or serious injury occurs.

As speed increases, so does the risk of a fatality

 

  • In a crash between a car and a pedestrian, there is a 10 per cent risk that a pedestrian will be killed at 30 km/h, 40 per cent risk at 40 km/h, and a 90 per cent risk at 50 km/h.
  • In a head-on crash between two vehicles, there is a 5 per cent risk that a driver or passenger will be killed at 60 km/h, 10 per cent risk at 70 km/h, and an 80 per cent risk at 90 km/h.
  • In a side-impact crash with another vehicle, there is a 10 per cent risk that a driver or passenger will be killed at 50 km/h, a 40 per cent risk at 60 km/h, and an 80 per cent risk at 70 km/h.

Aside from health and safety consequences, driving above the speed limit can also result in traffic offences and penalties.