Getting to destination safe better than not at all

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Not long after newcomers arrive in the Phoenix area, they may notice how fast the drivers travel on roads here.

Over time this can cause people to react in different ways, either becoming staunch advocates of good driving habits or eventual acceptance and adoption of bad driving practices. Becoming one who adopts bad driving practices just makes matters worse. Those individuals become part of the problem instead of part of the solution.

One of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic accidents is speed. In the year 2000, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that the economic cost to society of speed-related crashes was $40.4 billion or $76,865 per minute. These numbers don't include the cost of fatalities. In America, speed was a contributing factor in 30 percent of all fatal crashes in 2004.

Everyone wants to get to their destination as quickly as possible, but speeding is not the answer to arriving safely. Speed reduces a driver's reaction time as well as the ability to safely steer around curves and objects in the roadway. It also increases stopping distance considerably.

On average, young male drivers are more likely to speed and be involved in a fatal accident. When alcohol is added to this equation it becomes a very deadly combination. Approximately 40 percent of people involved in speedrelated fatalities had a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher.

In 2004, 49 percent of fatal crashes involved drivers between the ages of 21 and 24 who had a BAC of .08 or higher and were speeding. Only 25 percent of fatal crashes were accidents that involved alcohol, but did not involve speeding. Seventy-seven percent of speeding drivers involved in fatal accidents had at least a BAC of .01 or higher.

Fatal accident analysis across the U.S. has determined the most dangerous time to be on the road is between midnight and 3 a.m. This time frame contains the highest concentration of individuals driving under the influence.

The most important thing to remember is that speed kills. The chances of surviving an accident diminish drastically when speed or alcohol are involved. The chances are even slimmer when both are present. Military members are held to a high standard and should be promoting safe and responsible driving habits regardless of rank or position.