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The Importance of Speed Variance

The old slogan that "speed kills" may not be entirely correct.11

The relationship of speeding tickets to road safety is still very much under review. In one of the more recent studies, researchers in Sweden concluded that vehicle speed is not a greater risk factor than speed dispersion when predicting the likelihood of an accident. In other words, traveling at or near the average speed for vehicles on that road may be just as safe as travel ing at or near the posted speed limit.

Nonetheless, many jurisdictions, including Kern County, continue to rely on older studies which conclude that speeding laws were an effective means of making the roads safer.

Gross speed is clearly hazardous in some respects. A higher speed decreases reaction time, which is especially important when weather conditions are poor or traffic is heavy.

But speed is clearly not like alcohol. There is almost a one-to-one relationship between driver impairment and the risk of a traffic accident, but there is little or no evidence to suggest the same relationship exists between vehicle speed and the risk of a traffic accident.

There are several driving habits that are riskier than causing a speed variance (driving significantly faster or significantly slower than the surrounding traffic):