It’s Time to Slow Down. Canadian Drivers Admit to Putting the Pedal to the Metal Too Often

By Lesley Green
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A recent survey by InsuranceHotline.com has found that Canadian drivers speed too often when on the road. Seven in 10 drivers (68%) say they regularly drive five to 15 km/hour faster than the posted speed limit.

On neighbourhood streets where the limit could be as low as 30 km/hour, or on highways where you can travel 100 km/hour, exceeding the limit — even a little — is dangerous. Speeding is one of the most common causes of collisions in the country, along with distracted driving and driver impairment.

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Nearly Half of Drivers Have Been Pulled Over for Speeding

With so many drivers admitting they habitually speed, it’s no surprise that almost half say they’ve been caught in the act: 48% concede they’ve been pulled over sometime over the course of their driving career.

  • 58% of men have been pulled over for speeding compared to 38% of women
  • 57% of drivers living in a rural community have been stopped compared to 46% of drivers living in an urban or suburban area
  • 53% of drivers aged 55 or older have been caught compared to 44% of drivers under the age of 55 -- likely owing to the fact that older drivers have more years of driving under their (seat)belt

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Why Do Drivers Speed?

Getting a speeding ticket is the price we pay for playing fast and loose with the speed limits which ultimately puts others — drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists — at risk. And the price is significant. There’s the fine itself, the affect the ticket has on your auto insurance rate, and the potential demerit points that are added to your driving record. With all this in mind, why do drivers speed?

Of the drivers surveyed who admit they’ve been pulled over for speeding, nearly half (47%) told the officer they were speeding for at least one (but sometimes two!) of the following reasons:

  • Didn’t realize they were speeding
  • Hadn’t seen a speed limit sign
  • Was unaware the speed limit had changed
  • Were running late
  • Driving with the flow of traffic
  • Wanted to pass the driver ahead of them
  • Speedometer was malfunctioning
  • The roads were empty
  • Had to use the bathroom
  • Speed limit displayed on GPS was wrong
  • Medical emergency
  • Low on fuel and need to get to gas station
  • Missed their turn or exit
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Why Is Speeding Dangerous?

Unfortunately, driver attitudes about speeding haven’t changed over the last 15 years. In 2005, a Transport Canada survey also found that seven in 10 drivers admit to exceeding the limit at least occasionally. The report found that for those who speed the average was 12 km over the limit on highways, 10 km on two lane highways/country roads, and 7 km on residential streets.

No matter where the act happens though, speeding is speeding, and it’s dangerous:

  • The faster you go the narrower your field of vision to watch out for hazards that could result in a crash
  • The faster you go the more time you’ll need – time you won’t have – to take corrective measures to avoid a collision
  • The faster you go the greater the braking distance needed to come to a stop
  • The faster you go the greater the severity of a crash

Speeding Towards Higher Auto Insurance Premiums

A speeding ticket is a fast way to higher auto insurance rates for about three years, the time it takes to clear off your driving record.

A speeding ticket for driving 5 km to 15 km over the posted limit would typically be considered a minor traffic conviction which could result in a 10% increase in premiums down the road. But that’s only if it’s your first ticket. If you already have a ticket on your driving record, you could see a premium increase as much as 15%.

Ouch!

It’s this reality that spurs drivers to shop their rate. A five-year look back at drivers who shopped their rate at InsuranceHotline.com (and connected with a provider to discuss the quote they received) found that overall about 12.5% had a ticket on their driving record that could affect their rates. In 2015, 11.4% said they had a speeding ticket, while in 2019 just 8.2% did.

While this downward trend is promising, the reality highlighted from the InsuranceHotline.com survey is that seven in 10 drivers say they regularly speed which is alarming for anyone who uses our roads.

With summer in full swing and the back-to-school season on the horizon, drivers are encouraged to keep an eye on their speedometer for safer roads and lower auto insurance rates.

About the Survey

An online survey of 1,515 Canadians was completed between January 31 and February 3, 2020, using Leger’s online panel. The margin of error for this study was +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20.