Slowing Down Makes Sense: Drive Safely, Save More Than Money

Traffic Sign photo by Vera Volsanska

Whenever I make my 15-mile drive to the grocery store, even traveling at the posted speed limit of 55 mph, I am constantly being passed (via the oncoming lane), or tailgated until the highway splits to 2 lanes after 10 miles. While I understand the concept that “time is money,” this behavior just doesn’t make sense to me.

I admit to a somewhat wreckless time in my youth when the speed limit seemed like a nuisance that kept me from getting where I wanted to go as quickly as I wanted to go. But some time in my mid-twenties, I began to see how stupid I used to be and shudder at the chances I used to take.

Financial Reasons to Slow Down

  • Save Gas
    According to the California Energy Commission, “Vehicles lose roughly one percent in fuel economy for every mile per hour driven above 55 mph.”
  • Speeding Tickets
    In my aforementioned wreckless youth, I have been the recipient of 2 speeding tickets. My first (1999), for going 50 mph in a 35 mph zone, cost me $67. My second (2002), for going 30 in a 25 zone, was around $70. I don’t know how much speeding fines are these days, but I know they cost a lot more.
  • Auto Insurance Rates
    Traffic violations and accidents, even if you’re not at fault, will raise your auto insurance premiums.
  • Risk of Accidents
    Even if you’re insured, an accident will most likely cost you money in the form of repairs and deductibles. If you injure someone or damage someone’s property, it could potentially cost you a fortune in legal and liability costs.
  • Auto Maintenance
    The less wear-and-tear you put on your car, the longer it’ll last and the fewer repairs it’ll need.

Discover Open Road Card

Health Reasons to Slow Down

  • Reduce Chances of Serious and Permanent Injury
    Is the risk of an injury that will impact many years – if not the rest – of your life worth getting wherever you’re going 5 minutes faster?
  • Reduce Stress
    Driving at high speeds is stressful. Whenever I drive at speeds over 55 or 60 mph – even when within the speed limit – I find my body tension level significantly increased. My back and legs are often sore when I arrive at my destination. We already have enough stress in our daily lives, why add more?

Moral Reasons to Slow Down

  • Injury to Others
    This includes other motorists, pedestrians, children and pets. Injuring, or worse, accidentally killing, someone or someone’s pet would affect more than your own life.
  • Your Loved Ones
    What would happen to your loved ones – children, spouse, parents and others who care about and depend on you – if you were seriously injured or killed in an accident?

Maybe because I drive very little these days – a few times a month to run errands – I am more conscious of the dangers of driving. Every time I leave my house, I am acutely aware of the fact that anything can happen. I don’t have human children, but I have a dog that I care about more than anything, and I remind myself that getting to the store 5 minutes faster is not worth the risk of my not being here to take care of him.

I know we live in a busy age where everyone has 30 hours’ worth of things to get done within a 24-hour day. But is it really worth it to jeopardize our safety, risk accidents, fines and more to get there faster? Try to leave earlier. If you can’t get everywhere you need to without speeding, then maybe you need make some changes. Easier said than done, I know, especially if it’s work related, but speed limits are there for a reason.

When I was younger, I used feel like I was being rude if I was holding people up, even if I was already going over the speed limit. But, not anymore. I drive the posted speed limit not only because it’s the law, but because it’s the smart and responsible thing to do. I will not be made to feel guilty or like a “prude” for driving the speed limit. I won’t increase my risks just so others behind me can satisfy their need for speed.

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7 thoughts on “Slowing Down Makes Sense: Drive Safely, Save More Than Money”

  1. Penelope,

    Great post! I’ve recently become a huge fan of driving slowly. There’s nothing like going through pregnancy and the first year of your child’s life to make you slow down and think things through.

    I tend to be tempted to revert to my own habits when I’m driving alone, though. I can usually keep them in check, but occasionally find myself driving aggressively depending on the situation.

    A lot of studies have been done to show that you really don’t save that much time and that you substantially increase your risk by driving even 10 mph faster!

  2. I wish I could heed your advice. I just got too much going on to slow down. I see the monetary and other reasons but it’s just my mindset. I have found 1 way to slow down, put my wife and kids in the car..momma don’t go fot that…HAHA!

  3. What an interesting way of looking at it! I’ve never thought about it this way, but it’s amazing how much money driving a little slower can save you. And, of course, you’re absolutely right about the safety issues. Unfortunately, safety often isn’t enough to slow people down. Maybe seeing it in dollars will make fast drivers think! Great post! :)

  4. Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

    @ Ken: Even if your wife and children aren’t in the car, I’m sure it’s important to them that their father is able to come home to them in one piece every night.

    @ Trevor: Wow, I knew speeding fines were higher these days, but had no idea they were that high. $200! Ouch.

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