U.S. Cities with the Worst Speeding Problem [+ Fatality Rates]

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Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that despite the risks, approximately 70 percent of American drivers report speeding at least some of the time. Each year, speeding kills about 10,000 people and is responsible for nearly 30 percent of all motor vehicle deaths in the U.S.

Fortunately, since 2005, the speeding-related fatal accident rate has decreased nationwide by about 34 percent, from 4.2 to 2.7 per 100,000 people in 2017. While speeding-related deaths among adult drivers declined slightly during that time, those among teenagers fell dramatically.

Between 2005 and 2017, the number of speeding-related fatalities per 100,000 teenagers dropped from 13.2 to 5.8—results that experts partially attribute to increased seatbelt use and decreased drinking and driving.

The CDC reports that since 2005, the proportion of teens who reported not wearing a seatbelt was cut in half. Similarly, the share of teens who reported riding with a drunk driver fell by 42 percent.

Speeding-related fatalities by teenage drivers decline age over time.

Despite improvements to the speeding fatality rate at the national level, there is significant regional variation. To determine which cities suffer the most from speeding-related fatalities, our researchers at Compare Auto Insurance analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the period 2013-2017.

They found that speeding tends to account for a higher percentage of traffic fatalities in the Southeast and Midwest. Additionally, four of the worst 15 cities for speeding are located in California. These are the cities where speeding problems are the worst.

15 Cities with the Worst Speeding Problem

Skyline of Charlotte, North Carolina at dusk with green grass and clouds in sky.

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#15 – Charlotte, North Carolina

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 40.6%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 3.8 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 159
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 392
View from Garlic Brothers Restaurant in Stockton, California.

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#14 – Stockton, California

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 40.7%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 3.6 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 55
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 135

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San Diego, California skyline view from road on Point Loma at sunset.

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#13 – Chula Vista, California

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 41.7%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 1.9 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 25
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 60
View of he Hudson River toward Yonkers, New York from the New Jersey Palisades with blue sky.

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#12 – Yonkers, New York

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 42.1%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 1.6 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 16
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 38
Fresno, CA skyline from freeway interchange with clouds in sky.

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#11 – Fresno, California

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 42.6%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 2.8 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 72
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 169
View of Dinosaur Ridge in Aurora, Colorado with blue skyline.

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#10 – Aurora, Colorado

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 42.9%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 2.9 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 51
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 119

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La Salle Street in downtown Chicago, Illinois at twilight with traffic.

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#9 – Chicago, Illinois

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 43.4%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 2.0 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 278
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 640
Freeway interchange in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with traffic.

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#8 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 47.3%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 4.4 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 131
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 277
Downtown St. Louis, MO with the Old Courthouse and the Gateway Arch at sunrise.

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#7 – Saint Louis, Missouri

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 48.6%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 7.7 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 121
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 249
Aerial view of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. with U.S. Capitol Building.

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#6 – Washington, District Of Columbia

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 49.2%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 1.8 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 61
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 124
Public clock in downtown Plano, Texas with buildings and blue sky.

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#5 – Plano, Texas

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 49.2%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 2.2 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 31
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 63
View of San Bernardino National Forest from Skyforest, California with mountains and blue sky.

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#4 – Fontana, California

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 50.7%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 3.5 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 36
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 71
Downtown skyline of Cleveland, Ohio at night with Cuyahoga River and city lights.

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#3 – Cleveland, Ohio

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 51.9%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 4.8 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 94
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 181

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Highway interchange near downtown Dallas, Texas at night with city lights.

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#2 – Irving, Texas

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 52.2%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 4.1 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 48
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 92
Aerial view of a traffic on freeway interchange in Las Vegas, Nevada with mountains on sunny day.

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#1 – North Las Vegas, Nevada

  • Share of all traffic fatalities involving speeding (2013-2017): 53.9%
  • Annual speeding-related fatality rate (2013-2017): 3.5 per 100k
  • Total speeding-related fatalities (2013-2017): 41
  • Total traffic fatalities (2013-2017): 76

Methodology & Detailed Findings

Fatality statistics were obtained from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System for the period 2013-2017. City and state population statistics were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

The following definitions were used in categorizing accidents by location in order to simplify interpretations:

  • Freeway = Interstate + Non-Interstate Freeway + Expressway
  • Major highway = Non-Interstate Other Principal Arterial
  • Minor highway = Non-Interstate Minor Arterial
  • Primary street = Collector + Local

Fatalities per 100k residents were calculated as the sum of fatalities for 2013-2017 divided by the sum of the populations for the same years, multiplied by 100,000. Only cities with at least 200,000 residents and more than one speeding-related fatality were included in the analysis.

Cities were ranked according to the percentage of all motor vehicle fatalities that had at least one vehicle speeding prior to the accident. In the event of a tie, cities with higher speeding-related fatality rates were ranked higher.

Location is not the only factor that influences the likelihood of fatal crashes due to speeding.

The rate of speeding-related fatalities also differs by demographics. About 75 percent of drivers involved in speeding-related fatal accidents are male, regardless of age. According to the IIHS, men usually drive more miles than women and are also more likely to engage in other risky driving behaviors such as not using seatbelts and driving under the influence of alcohol, which all contribute to higher fatality rates.

Speeding-related fatalities by gender and age.

While speeding-related fatality rates vary across cities, rural roads, in general, have significantly higher rates of fatalities caused by speeding when compared to urban roads. Even though rural roads only account for about 30 percent of miles traveled in the U.S., they represent about 50 percent of speeding-related fatalities.

Historically, rural roads have had higher posted speed limits, which correlate to higher rates of speeding and higher fatality rates. Compared to urban roads, rural roads also have a higher incidence of rollover crashes, which can be caused by speeding. Furthermore, rural drivers might have less access to prompt medical attention after an accident, which increases the likelihood of death after injury.

Graph of speeding-related fatalities by road type.

Speed kills, but the recent decreases in speeding-related fatalities are promising. To equip law enforcement with the tools they need to reduce speeding on the road, the NHTSA works with local jurisdictions around the country to provide training in enforcing traffic laws.

Some of the methods that law enforcement officers use to detect speeding include radar, laser devices, VASCAR, and speed cameras.

Additionally, certain cities like Boston have experimented with lowering speed limits to reduce speed-related accidents.

Furthermore, some automakers have installed intelligent speed assistance (ISA) systems within cars to help drivers better monitor their own speed, and some auto insurance companies offer discounts for drivers who slow down. Tackling the speeding problem will require continued efforts from individuals, industry, law enforcement, and legislators.

Complete Study Results

CityTraffic FatalitiesAnnual Fatality RateTotal Speeding FatalitiesTotal Traffic FatalitiesPopulationRank
North Las Vegas, NV53.9%3.54176234,3891
Irving, TX52.2%4.14892235,6482
Cleveland, OH51.9%4.894181388,8123
Fontana, CA50.7%3.53671207,0864
Plano, TX49.2%2.23163281,5665
Washington D.C.49.2%1.861124672,3916
Saint Louis, MO48.6%7.7121249314,8677
Milwaukee, WI47.3%4.4131277599,0868
Chicago, IL43.4%22786402,722,5869
Aurora, CO42.9%2.951119357,32310
Fresno, CA42.6%2.872169519,03711
Yonkers, NY42.1%1.61638200,99912
Chula Vista, CA41.7%1.92560264,10113
Stockton, CA40.7%3.655135304,35814
Charlotte, NC40.6%3.8159392826,06015
Las Vegas, NV40.3%393231621,66216
Long Beach, CA39.9%2.559148470,48917
Durham, NC39.8%2.73588257,23218
Arlington, TX39.7%2.854136388,22519
Des Moines, IA39.7%2.52768214,77820
Honolulu, HI39.4%2.341104350,78821
Albuquerque, NM39.2%4.7130332556,71822
Madison, WI39.0%1.31641248,85623
Riverside, CA38.8%3.557147321,57024
Wichita, KS38.7%3.467173389,05425
Garland, TX38.5%3.13796235,96526
Dallas, TX38.4%5.13298561,300,12227
Denver, CO38.0%2.790237678,46728
Santa Clarita, CA37.5%1.71848209,48929
Aurora, IL37.1%1.31335200,94630
Greensboro, NC36.9%3.752141284,81631
Oakland, CA36.7%2.654147417,44232
Rochester, NY36.4%2.32466209,46333
Portland, OR36.3%2.166182630,33134
Baltimore, MD36.2%2.267185619,79635
Tulsa, OK35.7%4.386241401,35236
Moreno Valley, CA35.6%2.12159203,69137
Oklahoma City, OK35.5%4.7147414629,19138
Detroit, MI35.4%6.1209591679,86539
Los Angeles, CA35.0%2.34591,3123,949,77640
Colorado Springs, CO34.6%2.454156450,00041
Fayetteville, NC34.5%3.840116210,32442
Fort Worth, TX34.0%3.5145427835,12943
San Antonio, TX33.7%3.82758151,461,62344
Seattle, WA33.3%1.344132688,24545
Anaheim, CA33.1%2.442127349,00746
Henderson, NV32.7%1.31855284,81747
Scottsdale, AZ32.0%22475239,28348
Raleigh, NC31.6%2.454171449,47749
Lubbock, TX31.5%3.341130247,32350
Fremont, CA31.5%1.51754230,96451
Modesto, CA31.3%2.42580210,16652
Tacoma, WA31.3%2.42580207,28053
Minneapolis, MN31.1%1.12374411,45254
Fort Wayne, IN30.9%3.242136262,45055
Chandler, AZ30.9%1.72168245,16056
San Bernardino, CA30.2%4.245149215,25257
Lincoln, NE30.0%1.11550277,31558
Sacramento, CA29.8%3.176255489,65059
Omaha, NE29.7%247158463,08160
Buffalo, NY29.7%1.51964259,57461
Saint Paul, MN29.2%0.91448300,82062
Santa Ana, CA29.1%234117334,49363
San Diego, CA29.0%1.81244281,390,96664
San Jose, CA29.0%1.6842901,023,03165
Mesa, AZ28.9%2.252180479,31766
Philadelphia, PA28.9%1.71374741,569,65767
Corpus Christi, TX28.4%2.540141322,72668
Pittsburgh, PA28.3%1.72692305,01269
Huntington Beach, CA27.7%1.81865200,41570
San Francisco, CA27.7%1.146166864,26371
Bakersfield, CA26.7%2.751191372,68072
Indianapolis, IN26.5%2.8119449853,43173
Tucson, AZ26.4%2.875284530,90574
Winston Salem, NC26.4%2.429110240,19375
Toledo, OH26.3%2.231118279,45576
Reno, NV26.2%1.82284239,73277
Phoenix, AZ26.0%3.32631,0131,574,42178
El Paso, TX25.8%2.170271678,26679
New York, NY25.4%0.73111,2238,560,07280
Atlanta, GA25.2%3.171282465,23081
Virginia Beach, VA25.0%1.329116450,05782
Houston, TX24.7%2.52781,1242,267,33683
Gilbert, AZ24.4%0.91145232,17684
Austin, TX23.7%2.195401916,90685
Anchorage, AK22.6%1.42193298,22586
Laredo, TX22.5%1.41880255,30587
Louisville, KY22.4%391406615,47888
Newark, NJ22.0%1.826118282,80389
Memphis, TN21.8%3.3109500654,72390
Tampa, FL21.6%2.954250368,08791
Nashville, TN21.5%2.168317654,18792
Cincinnati, OH21.0%1.726124298,95793
Jersey City, NJ20.9%0.7943265,93294
Boston, MA20.8%0.725120669,15895
Glendale, AZ20.7%2.125121241,54396
Chesapeake, VA20.3%1.31574235,41097
Boise, ID19.0%1.11263220,85998
Birmingham, AL18.6%3.436194212,26599
Saint Petersburg, FL18.6%226140256,031100
Norfolk, VA17.3%1.41798245,752101
New Orleans, LA16.7%2.242252388,182102
Columbus, OH16.4%141250852,144103
Miami, FL15.7%1.738242443,007104
Spokane, WA14.3%0.8856212,982105
Richmond, VA14.1%0.91071220,892106
Oxnard, CA13.0%0.3323206,732107
Baton Rouge, LA12.4%2.225202227,549108
Orlando, FL7.9%113165269,414109
Jacksonville, FL6.3%0.941651867,313110
Montgomery, AL5.6%0.66108200,761111
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