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DUI and the Culture of Speed

DUI and the Culture of Speed

Source: Public Action Management

By Pamela S. Erickson

October 24, 2023

We live in a culture of speed. And, speed contributes to impaired driving crashes and deaths. Unfortunately, impaired drivers are often the culprit when it comes to speed and a crash. Here is why I believe that we have a culture of speed:

Cars: Just look at your speedometer. I drive a slug of a car…it’s a 2002 Mercedes Sedan that we bought from an estate. It seems designed for older women. Yet I was shocked to see that the speedometer topped out at 160 MPH!

Why would car-makers suggest that your car can go 160 miles per hour when it is not legal to do? In fact, according to Wikipedia, “The highest posted speed limit in the country is 85 mph (137 km/h) and can be found only on Texas State Highway 130, a toll road that bypasses the Austin metropolitan area for long-distance traffic.”

An explanation for this absurdity is contained in an article by CNN Business: “Most speedometers max out around 140 or 160 mph, even though the cars aren’t designed to go that fast. The practice serves automakers’ needs to mass-produce standard gauges for different cars. It also adds psychological benefits to drivers, who may want to think of themselves as amateur racecar drivers. The downside is people may feel too powerful in their car and drive recklessly fast.”

Movies and Advertising: Movies often have a “chase scene” where the good guys are chasing the bad guys through urban neighborhoods and city streets at very high rates of speed. Car ads usually show cars driving fast and doing things cars shouldn’t do…like climbing rocks! (At least the ads are filmed in the desert with no other cars or people around.) Even women are portrayed driving fast! As one commentator put it, “It is widely believed that Americans have a ‘need for speed.’ It is no wonder why movies like The Fast and the Furious, Mad Max, and Ford vs. Ferrari grab our attention with car racing scenes, high-speed chases, and flaming crashes. The love of cars is often associated with freedom; driving out on the open road without a care in the world resonates with many.”

Toys: I have two grandsons I help take care of, so I have been able to watch what they get for toys. Go to any store where you buy toys and you’ll find the boys’ section has a lot of race cars. In fact, its often the first toy that a boy gets! Fortunately, my grandsons have moved on to other things. Roman (almost 7) likes arts and Raylen (age 3) likes work vehicles. For example, when Ray learned to talk, one of his first words was “excavator” as his toy had a broken part! But they still have race cars even though they don’t play with them much.

Consequences: Unfortunately, in Nevada this situation results in thousands of traffic tickets for drivers going over 100 mph. In 2022, the Nevada Highway Patrol gave out 4,051 tickets to motorists for speeding at 100 mph or more. That equates to 11 per day for just the highway patrol.

There are just too many deaths and too many of them are children. To highlight the issue of children and cars, NHTSA declared October 15-21, 2023 National Teen Driver Safety Week.

Traffic safety advocates said the key to preventing the death of the community’s most vulnerable road users comes down to individual responsibility as well as improving road designs.


“Speed limits in the United States,” Wikipedia

“Why your car’s speedometer goes up to 160 mph (even when your car can’t),” By Matt McFarland, CNN Business, September 10, 2022

“Slow down, Nevada: ‘Alarming’ number of drivers cited for topping 100”, By Jeff Burbank, Las Vegas Review-Journal, June 13, 2023

“Boy’s death inspires bill targeting ‘reckless driving capital of the world’”, By Mark Credico, Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 6, 2023

“Man arrested in death of 5-year-old North Las Vegas boy hit, killed while dropped off for school”, FOX5 Staff, October 6, 2023

“Consumer Alert: Talk to Your Teen This National Teen Driver Safety Week,” NHTSA