Unless you drive in outer space with extremely limited chances of hitting something, then yes just by going fast may not kill you. Unfortunately we all drive on roads here on earth and here speed is a factor. Why? There are too many road side hazards and road conditions a driver has no control over.

More than 500,000 pieces of debris, or "space junk," are tracked as they orbit the Earth. They all travel at speeds up to 28,000 kmh, fast enough for a relatively small piece of orbital debris to damage a satellite or a spacecraft.

Space junk

A simple illustration

Peter drives the same car on the same date and time, on the same road and crashes into the same tree. The weather and road conditions are all the same.
In the one incident Peter is not injured and in the other he is seriously hurt. Why?

Two aspects relating to speed

People make mistakes. While you are driving you have to be prepared to take evasive actions. The lower the speed the more time you have to take action and the less the risk of losing control of your vehicle.

The second aspect is when a crash cannot be avoided; speed determines the seriousness of injury.

Most common road side hazards

Trees, telephone or electricity poles, ditches, embankments, water canals, rocks, stray animals, road signs, parked vehicles and limited recovery areas.

What can you control and what not?

You only have control over:

・ the choice of vehicle you use,

・ the route you take,

・ the number of passengers in the vehicle,

・ the day and time you travel,

・ your driving behaviour, and

・ the speed you travel at.

You have NO control over:

・ other drivers,

・ road conditions,

・ the weather and

・ what may be on the road at any particular time.

Stopping distances

The effect of speed comes into play when a driver has to avoid a crash. The higher the speed the less time there is to react. At 100 km/h a vehicle moves forward at 27 metres per second.

Stopping distance table

When a vehicle crashes into a solid object, like another vehicle, tree, pole, ditch or the road surface speed is the determining factor of whether the driver and/or any passenger in the vehicle are killed, seriously injured, or walk away from the crash.

But I have a 5-star safety rated car

Awesome! It should reduce injury risk in most low to moderate impact crashes. However, the test for frontal impact crashes done by NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) all over the world is done at maximum 64 km/h (40mph).

"Even if the maximum speed limit is 120 km/h, few accidents occur at such speeds and where they do, it is beyond current capabilities to provide protection for the car's occupants". Source EuroNCAP

Speed limits The speed limit is set as the maximum speed to travel under perfect conditions.

Nevertheless, on most of our rural roads where the default speed limit is 100km/h, you cannot safely drive at that speed. Research has shown that speed limits should not be based on road width alone. Where road side objects create risk of injury, speed limits should be reduced.

Changed tyres recently?

If you put on different size or profile tyre, chances are that your speedometer will be more inaccurate. Check this website to see what effect the change will have to your speed. 

Tyre size speed calc

Savings

Driving under the speed limit not only reduces the risk of a crash ‒ it saves you money and reduces stress levels too.

Non-believers

Many drivers believe it will never happen to them and ignore warnings about the risk of travelling too fast. This is selfish because they hold the lives of their passengers and other road users in their hands.

Speed cameras

If you drive within the speed limit and adjust your speed to the conditions you won ' t have to worry about speed cameras or police officers checking for speeding drivers. Forget about all the schemes to "outsmart" the system and follow your speedo literally. In most cases the speedo will read a bit higher than the actual speed. Use the electronic speed signs in your area to check your speedo. Those signs are very accurate.

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