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Before your pedal hits the metal, consider this.

July 10, 2017

Photo of a 55 mph speed limit sign with cars driving by.
Photo: You can come up with lots of reasons to speed – but the reasons not to are much more compelling. Statewide extra speed enforcement takes place now through July 23.​

It’s been one of those mornings: You must’ve pressed the snooze button a thousand times. You spilled coffee on your white shirt and had to change. You forgot it was your turn to take the kids to day camp on your way to work—and you absolutely cannot be late to work again, or there will be dire consequences from your boss.

So the temptation to press down on that gas pedal just a little harder is understandable. What could 5 or even 10 miles per hour above the speed limit hurt? The roads are dry as a bone, visibility is perfect, and besides, everyone does it – it’s not like you’ll get a ticket.

When you feel your thoughts turn in that direction, just stop for a moment. Now through July 23 is a statewide extra speed enforcement and awareness campaign. More than 300 law-enforcement agencies (police, sheriff, and State Patrol) are stepping up their enforcement efforts. The cost of speeding violations varies by county here in Minnesota, but if you’re traveling 10 miles per hour over the speed limit, it’ll likely cost you over $110. Double that, and you’re looking at double the fines, and it’ll be more than $300 for speeding in a work zone.

And although the possibility of a steep ticket may keep your pedal from hitting the metal, there are plenty of other great reasons to avoid speeding. For example, the faster you go, the less time you have to stop. It may seem obvious, but increased speeds translate directly to increased stopping distance. A demo at recent DPS news conference showed that even under ideal conditions – dry roads, daylight, well-maintained tires and brakes, no distractions – a car traveling at 60 miles per hour needs about 80 feet to come to a complete stop. But add just 10 miles per hour of speed, and that stopping distance increases to about 103 feet.  

Think of cresting a hill on the freeway and suddenly seeing a crash, construction, or simply a traffic jam ahead of you. Will you have time to stop without hitting the vehicle in front of you? Speeding makes that much less likely, and it’s reflected in the statistics: Preliminary numbers show there were 92 speed-related traffic fatalities in 2016. That number is up 18 percent from 2015, when there were 78 deaths.

So next time you have one of those mornings and you’re tempted to make up for it by driving over the speed limit, take a look at the kids in the backseat or your own face in the mirror. Getting to work late isn’t ideal. But obeying the speed limit gives you a much better chance of getting there at all.​​​