Emphasize data-driven mobilizations and incorporate Automated Speed Enforcement devices in vulnerable locations to minimize resource needs of speed-limit enforcement.
A report from the GHSA summarizes the impacts of speeding violations and presents a number of recommended steps to reduce travelers' risk.
Made Public Date


United States

Speeding Away from Zero: Rethinking a Forgotten Traffic Safety Challenge


The Governors Highway Safety Association, a nonprofit organization composed of the states' highway safety offices, recently released a report summarizing the impact of excessive vehicle speed on traffic fatalities. Based primarily upon data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System and from information collected from individual states, the document reviews the policy, programmatic, and cultural trends related to speeding. It further offers suggestions on ways federal and local government agencies may meet the challenge of excessive speed, emphasizing the utility of modern, data-driven solutions and highlighting the advantages posed by using relatively new technologies such as Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) devices.

Lessons Learned

The report summarizes its major suggestions and recommended best practices as follows:

Improve Program Management

  • Bolster National Leadership
    • Congress could establish a NHTSA National Priority Safety grant program dedicated exclusively to speed management.
    • Congress could create and fund a new national high-visibility enforcement campaign, similar to the “Click It or Ticket” campaign for seatbelt laws.
    • U.S. DOT could reactivate its interdisciplinary Speed Management Team and more proactively promote speed management solutions.

Utilize State and Local Task Forces or Advisory Committees

  • Task Forces or Advisory Committees May Be Helpful to Develop and Implement Speeding Reductions and Safety Initiatives.
    • Interdisciplinary task forces have been shown to improve traffic safety programs in other contexts, such as impaired driving and traffic records. These committees can inform both local and state efforts to educate the community in addition to aid in creating support from the local community regarding speeding reduction efforts.
    • Organizers should welcome members of State Highway Safety Offices, advocacy groups, education and training personnel, healthcare representatives, infrastructure safety stakeholders, law enforcement, and others representing the differing views and opinions within the state or local community.
  • Promote Crash Report and Crash Database Improvements
    • States should move to update their police crash forms to improve the reporting of speeding-related fatalities and support data-driven enforcement and outreach campaigns. When the information used to inform speeding-reduction strategies is inaccurate, these programs and campaigns are less effective.
  • Explore the Use of Integrated Speed Management Programs
    • Many states and cities are adopting zero-focused programs that integrate education, enforcement, and infrastructure, and seek high-level policymaker buy-in. These programs are some of the most assertive in addressing speed management.

Prioritize Enforcement

  • Increase Enforcement Efforts Regarding Speeding
    • States and communities should implement data-driven mobilizations in areas, times, and days where a higher incidence of speeding occurs to focus enforcement resources in areas of need. Agencies may consider conducting regional campaigns, or multi-agency efforts, where resources are shared among agencies. Also, speeding-reduction efforts can be added to other mobilizations.
    • States should consider roadside speed signs where available and cost-effective, which can enhance speeding-reduction efforts and campaigns.
    • States and cities should also explore the use of ASE to reduce speeding-related crashes and fatalities. ASE can be launched in areas of higher risk, such as school zones and work zones, to promote greater public tolerance and support.
  • Increase Education and Training for Law Enforcement
    • States should provide continuing education for law enforcement regarding the proper use of equipment to detect speed and the prioritization of crash causation and crash evaluations, which may help to reduce potential under-reporting of speeding-related crashes. Creating statewide consistency among law enforcement practices, through continued education and training of both municipal and state agencies, may also reduce this occurrence.
    • Increased use of law enforcement liaisons (LELs) may help these efforts.

Improve State and Local Policy

  • Support Speed Limits According to Zero Principles
    • States and localities should set reasonable speed limits in built-up areas where there is a mix of vulnerable road users and motor vehicle traffic, at intersections and locations with a high risk of side collisions, and on rural roads without a median barrier to reduce the risk of head-on collisions.
    • States should also provide local communities with discretion to set speed limits and deploy speed management countermeasures in order to meet local needs.
  • Support the Improvement of Infrastructure and Enforcement if Speed Limits Are to Increase
    • States should seek to achieve longer-lasting speed reductions through the data-driven use of traffic-calming roadway infrastructure. The use of traffic-calming methods such as roundabouts, bump outs, refuge islands, early release signal timing at intersections and enhancing roadway lighting have all shown to reduce speeding. These countermeasures can be targeted in neighborhoods where vehicles and pedestrians commonly share the road. If states are considering an increase in speed limits, stricter enforcement and an upgrade of the infrastructure should be considered to compensate for the increased risk from higher mean speeds.