How much does speed affect injury rates?

Auto accident injuries have the potential to be devastating. Depending on the speed of the crash and other factors, people could be trapped inside their vehicles, pinned and struggling to survive.

What many people don't realize is how much the risk of injury increases with just a few extra mph. For instance, did you know that traveling at 65 mph is the same as falling from a 12-foot building? It's a shock to think about how people can survive accidents when compared in that way.

Consider this: A neighborhood crash at 10 mph is likely to leave people stunned but alive. Most will walk away without injuries or with minor injuries. Bump up the speed to 25 mph, and there is a slightly higher chance of injury, but the likelihood of death would be low. Once you move up to 35 mph, you start to see a real difference. Instead of being 40 percent more serious, it's closer to 50 percent. Force increases exponentially, especially when speeds reach high levels.

To avoid injuries, the best thing you can do is to stick to the speed limit, wear your seat belt and obey traffic laws. If other drivers are distracted or cause a collision, your attentiveness could be what helps you position yourself for a less-serious crash. Even if you can slow down just a small amount, the risk to yourself and your passengers is much lower than at the higher speed. Be aware of your surroundings because the actions you take could save lives when you're going to get into a crash.

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