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Speed the best predictor of collisions: study

Last Updated Aug 23, 2019 at 12:15 pm MDT

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A new study out of the University of Waterloo finds speeding is the riskiest driving behaviour

Study findings suggest speeding is a strong predictor of crashes

Researchers also looked at other risky driving behaviours, including hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering

We all know aggressive driving is risky, but the most dangerous kind is apparently a problem we’ve dealt with for a long time — speeding.

Researchers from the University of Waterloo looked at over 28 million trips for possible links between four bad driving behaviours — speeding, hard braking, hard acceleration and hard cornering — and how those behaviours factored into collisions.

Their analysis of the data revealed speeding is a strong predictor of crashes, while statistically significant links for the other kinds of aggressive driving couldn’t be established.

“When you speed, you are at a higher probability of getting into an accident,” Allaa Hilal, adjunct professor, electrical and computer engineering at the University of Waterloo, explained. “Regardless of the age … the type of car, the probability is much, much higher.”

The data was gathered by looking at on-board diagnostic devices installed on the vehicles of some insurance company clients in Ontario and Texas.

“And one of the key findings was, if you’re speeding is at the 75th percentile and somebody else’s speeding is at the 50th percentile … the one who is at the 75th percentile has a 50 per cent more chance of getting into a car accident. So the statistic is significant and the numbers are clear,” Hilal told The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS.

“Some of the results are no surprise, but prior to this we had a whole industry based on intuition,” Hilal added. “Now it is formulated — we know aggressive driving has an impact.”

Stefan Steiner, a statistics professor at the university, believes analysis of those on-board devices could eventually revolutionize the insurance industry by enabling fairer, personalized premiums based on actual driving behaviour, not age, gender or location.

As well, Hilal stated the data could make roads safer by giving drivers both tangible evidence and financial incentives to change. “Having this information exposed and understood allows people to wrap their minds around their true risks and improve their driving behaviours,”she said.