Speeding remains a significant factor in road safety, contributing to approximately 26% of all traffic fatalities in the United States. The implications of driving above the speed limit or too fast for road conditions are profound, affecting not only the speeder but also posing risks to other road users. In Tennessee, where speeding-related crashes have been a prevalent issue, it is crucial for drivers to understand what constitutes speeding and the potential consequences.

What is Considered Speeding?

High speeds amplify the likelihood of collisions due to increased stopping distances and reduced maneuverability. Additionally, the energy of a crash rises exponentially with higher speeds, making collisions more severe. Speeding is generally defined as driving above the posted speed limit or at a speed deemed unsafe for prevailing conditions.

The consequences of speeding include:

  • Reduced Ability to Maneuver: Speeding diminishes a driver’s ability to negotiate curves or navigate around obstacles in the roadway, increasing the risk of collisions.
  • Extended Stopping Distances: Vehicles traveling at high speeds require more distance to come to a complete stop, increasing the risk of rear-end collisions or collisions at intersections.
  • Delayed Reaction Time: Speeding increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a hazard, potentially leading to accidents that could have been avoided with a timely response.
  • Heightened Crash and Injury Risks: Other vehicles and pedestrians may struggle to accurately judge distances, elevating the risk of crashes and injuries.

Speeding in Tennessee: The Facts

According to the Tennessee Integrated Traffic Analysis Network (TITAN), speeding-related crashes were alarmingly high, with nearly 23,000 reported incidents between 2017 and 2019. Of particular concern is that 36% of these crashes involved drivers between the ages of 18 and 24.

Tennessee Speeding Laws

Tennessee has established specific statutes governing speed limits to ensure road safety:

  • TCA §55-8-152 – Speed Limits – Penalties: Statutory maximum speeds are set at 70 MPH for interstate highways and 65 MPH for all other public roads.
  • TCA §55-8-153 – Establishment of Speed Zones: The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has the authority to reduce speed limits on state transportation system highways below the statutory maximums.
  • TCA §55-8-156 – Special Speed Limitations – Penalties: Municipalities have the authority to lower speed limits on roads within their jurisdiction, with a maximum speed of 55 MPH. Additionally, municipalities and counties can set school speed limits in certain circumstances.

For any limit lower than the statutory maximum, an engineering investigation is required. This ensures that speed limits are set appropriately, considering the specific conditions of the road.

What to Do if You Receive a Speeding Ticket in Tennessee?

If you receive a speeding ticket in Tennessee, a judge may allow you to take a 4-hour online driver education course to dismiss that citation before it appears on your driving record.

The DriveSafe Online Tennessee Defensive Driving Course is fully-approved by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security (TDOSHS) to dismiss your ticket. Check with your Court to see if your case qualifies.

Once you have permission to take our course, simply sign up, successfully complete it and return your certificate of completion to the courthouse as instructed by the Court.

What to Do if Drivers are Speeding Around You

  • Be Courteous and Safe: When in the left lane, allow faster vehicles to pass safely.
  • Give speeding drivers ample space, as higher speeds increase the likelihood of losing control.
  • Adjust Your Driving: Adapt your driving to the situation. Speeding often correlates with aggressive driving. If a speeding driver is tailgating or engaging in risky behavior, use your judgment to safely maneuver out of their way.
  • Take Action: If you believe a driver is following or harassing you, promptly call local law enforcement.

Understanding the implications of speeding and adhering to Tennessee’s speeding laws are crucial steps in promoting road safety. As drivers, it is our responsibility to be mindful of speed limits, adjust our speeds based on road conditions, and contribute to making Tennessee’s roads safer for everyone. By following the laws and adopting safe driving practices, we can collectively work towards reducing the incidence of speeding-related accidents and ensuring a secure road environment for all.