How Much Faster Can You Get There By Speeding?

Bad drivers roam in tailgating packs that form as a result of impatience and stupidity.  –Dane Mutters

Today, I’ll be examining how much faster a person can get to their destination by going 10 or 20 miles per hour over the speed limit.  Notably, people who try to go much faster than the speed limit typically do so by weaving in and out of traffic, passing on the right/shoulder, tailgating (which doesn’t actually work, and is the most common and preventable cause of accidents), and other highly questionable maneuvers.  While much has been written on this topic (including in your state’s driver’s handbook), few people have taken the time to do the math for how much faster a person can actually arrive at a destination by speeding.  Below is such an analysis

For a 50 mile journey:

65miles/hr = 65miles/1hr
50miles / 65miles/1hr = .769hrs
.769hrs * 60minutes/1hr = 46 minutes at 65mph
So, it takes 46 minutes to travel 50 miles at 65mph.

75miles/hr = 75miles/1hr
50miles / 75miles/1hr = .666hrs
.666hrs * 60minutes/1hr = 40 minutes at 60mph
So, it takes 40 minutes to travel 50 miles at 75mph. Note that the extra 10mph only got you an extra 6 minutes, relative to traveling at 65mph

85miles/hr = 85miles/1hr
50miles / 85miles/1hr = .588hrs
.588hrs * 60minutes/1hr = 35 minutes at 85mph
So, it takes 35 minutes to travel 50 miles at 85mph. Note that the extra 10mph only got you an extra 5 minutes, relative to traveling at 75mph. As you increase speed, your gains in time saved will continue to decrease, relative to the previous 10mph speed.  In other words, the progression is not linear, and increased speed over a given distance will net diminishing returns.

So, to arrive at your destination 11 minutes sooner, on a 50 mile journey, you have to go 20mph faster than the speed limit. Not only is that dangerous, but it constitutes “reckless driving”, which is punishable by a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail, in California, not including the speeding ticket you’ll also get.

Now, let’s look the data for how survivable an accident is at 65mph vs. 85mph. According to the department of transportation (see link, below), at 85mph, you have a nearly 100% chance of killing at least one person if you get into an accident. Additionally, your risk of causing an accident dramatically increases at that speed.

So, is it a smart gamble to risk your life and the lives of everyone around you to get to your destination 6-11 minutes faster? Are you qualified to make that decision for someone else who is on the road with you? No.

Slow down, drive safely, be patient, and wait for a good opportunity to pass. No matter how slowly the person in the leftmost lane is driving, they can’t “force” you to do something reckless; that’s your decision, and it isn’t a smart one to make.  The math and physics don’t lie.