Excessive Speed Causes Injuries, Fatalities on Missouri Highways

March 7, 2012,

834002_nospeed.jpgOn March 6, an 18 year-old Florida man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident. The charges are connected to a 2010 incident, wherein Ramesse Harris (then, only age 16, and driving a stolen car) fled from Manatee County Sheriff's Deputies and initiated a chase. Law enforcement officials called off the pursuit when Harris entered St. Petersberg, due to concerns about risking public safety by continuing a high speed chase on city streets. About 60 seconds later, Harris ran a red light and T-boned a car driven by 56 year-old Gary Lane Smith. Harris was injured, and Smith was pronounced dead at the scene. Throughout the chase, law enforcement reported speeds between 60 and 100 mph.

While relatively few Missouri drivers have been pursued by police, many of us are likely guilty of speeding. Excessive speed is a leading cause of auto accidents in Missouri: each year, drivers traveling well in excess of the posted speed limit are responsible for car accidents that result in serious injuries and fatalities.

As with many other kinds of accidents, car crashes caused by excessive speed are easily preventable: catastrophic injuries and expensive medical costs caused by these accidents can be avoided. Missouri drivers are urged to follow a few simple rules to help prevent car accidents, and keep all motorists and passengers safer on our state's highways:

• Observe and obey posted speed limits. Speeding can limit the time you have to avoid a dangerous collision.

• Pay attention. Distracted driving, often caused by cell phone use and texting, leads to a loss of focus on the road, and can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

• Don't drink and drive. If you do plan to drink, appoint a designated driver.

• Don't tailgate. Following too closely reduces the time and space you need to avoid a car crash.

• Don't drive while tired. Tired driving carries many of the same risks as drunk driving, and can lead to a deadly accident.

215798_speedlimit.jpgAccording to the Missouri Highway Patrol, in 2010, a Missourian was killed in a speed related accident every 41.9 minutes: 324 people died and an additional 12,220 were injured in these accidents. Of all 2010 fatal Missouri crashes, 39.5% involved excessive speed as a causal factor.

Safe and careful driving is the best way to prevent these senseless injuries and fatalities. By paying attention and following the rules of the road, Missouri drivers can get where they're going safely, and protect other drivers as well. Safe and careful driving can help you avoid the dangerous, careless driving of others, and help prevent car accidents, personal injury, property damage, and costly medical bills.

We're all aware, however, that not every driver on the road is concerned about following traffic laws. As they say, accidents do happen, and unfortunately, car accidents caused by careless or reckless driving can lead to serious personal injury and death.

If you've been involved in an auto accident caused by the reckless driving or excessive speed of another driver, you should talk to an attorney who can protect your rights. Keep in mind that it's important to discuss your claim with a lawyer as soon as possible following an accident, so that you may keep track of important dates and deadline,s and preserve any evidence necessary to your auto accident case.

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