Most of us appreciate the humor of “top ten lists” and heading about the silly excuses people deliver to cover over their poor choices. A recent article at consumerreports.com listed the top ten reasons people gave when pulled over for speeding.
It is funny to read these excuses (below), but we also recognize that speeding itself is never funny.
Sobering facts about speeding:
- Speeding is four times more likely to lead to a death than talking/texting with a hand-held cell phone.
- Speeding reduces your time to react to unexpected situations
- Speeding reduces the effective control of your steering and braking systems — it takes more time to safely maneuver and/or stop.
- Speeding violations increase your personal insurance costs, decrease your future employ-ability, frustrate your employer and can have substantial fines associated.
- More ‘exceeding the speed limit’ crashes occur in home towns, on side streets and involve pedestrians, bikes and motorcycles than on the open highway.
- There’s rarely a good excuse to speed.
So the results of a survey of 500 licensed drivers age 18 and over who reported using an excuse during a traffic stop include the following top 10 excuses:
10. My GPS said it was the right thing to do: 2.2 percent.
9. I was on my way to an emergency: 4 percent.
8. I didn’t do anything dangerous: 4.2 percent.
7. I had to go to the bathroom: 4.6 percent.
6. I missed my turn/exit: 4.8 percent.
5. I’m having an emergency situation in my car: 5.4 percent.
4. Everyone else was doing it: 6.4 percent.
3. I didn’t know I broke the speed limit: 12.4 percent.
2. I’m lost and unfamiliar with the roads: 15.6 percent.
And the number one reason…
1. I couldn’t see the sign telling me not to do it: 20.4 percent.
The common thread through these excuses is a combination of feigned ignorance of the law (or more simply, the rules of the road) and self-deception that the risk isn’t real (i.e. I’m a good driver, only other drivers actually crash because of their choices or “speeding isn’t dangerous”).
Some may argue that “having an emergency situation in my car” could be a legitimate concern, but since this is a summary of drivers who actually got ticketed, I have to wonder how serious the “emergency” was (the police took the time to issue the ticket and conduct the survey).
We all share a responsibility to each other, as drivers, to be safe and execute reasonable judgement while following the law. Some drivers deceive themselves into believing that the law doesn’t apply to them (or their circumstance) or that they’re so skilled that they can overcome any dangerous situation that may arise. All they’re accomplishing is endangering themselves and the rest of us.
Take time to talk with your friends and family about driving safely — it starts within our immediate social circles and spreads out from there. We can’t wait for someone else to step up and lead the discussion — it starts with you, today. Be brave enough to have that conversation.