5 reasons not to speed

September 16th, 2022

Ah…the thrill of the open road. A chance to see what your car can really do.

But before you put the pedal to the metal, check out our five reasons why speeding could see more than the wind blowing in your hair – it could also blow your finances.

Chances are you’ve checked out the numbers at the far end of your car’s speedometer, and thought “I wonder…”.

Yes, it can be tempting to see what sort of speed your car can really muster up on the highway.

The catch is that while your speedometer may show a top speed of, say, 200km per hour, the legal speed limits on Aussie roads are far below this.

According to the RACQ, Australian Design Rules require your car’s speedo to display the maximum speed of your type of vehicle1

But there are five smart reasons not to give in to the urge to burn some rubber and check out just how quick your car can be.

1. Fuel economy

Topping up your car at the bowser is pricey enough. Why add to the bill by driving at high speed?

Riding the accelerator can rapidly turn your car from a sipper into a slurper. In fact, driving at 110km per hour can see your car guzzle 25% more fuel than if you cruise at 90km per hour.2

Fuel is expensive these days, so who wants to be speeding all the way to the service station every few days to fill up? Not us!

2. You won’t get there faster

When you first learned to drive, it’s a fair bet mum or dad (or nan and pop) waved a knowing finger, warning, “Speeding won’t get you there any faster”. Pretty annoying, huh? But it turns out they were right.

Research shows drivers experience what psychologists call ‘time saving bias’3. It means we overestimate the time we could save by driving faster, and underestimate the time savings of driving at a more moderate speed.

Not convinced?

Think of it this way. A 30 kilometre journey is going to take half an hour if you stick to a speed of 60km per hour. Push the accelerator a little harder to, drive at 65km per hour, and you’ll only cut two minutes from the drive time4.

So, despite driving over 8% faster, you’re only scoring a 6% time-saving.

3. Damage to your vehicle

Speed adds to your car’s wear and tear. Motoring body NRMA5 says driving fast over uneven surfaces is a particular tyre killer. And on any road surface, sharp braking can impact everything from your brake pads to the fuel supply.

More generally, regularly driving fast will see the engine, suspension and other components of your car wear more quickly6.

Long story short, while many newer cars can certainly handle high speeds, your car maintenance budget may not be so well-equipped to cope with the extra costs.

4. Greater likelihood of a crash when speeding

Speeding is the number one cause of road fatalities in Australia, causing around 70-plus deaths each month7. And there’s a reason for that.

Driving at high speed ups the stakes of being involved in a crash. The faster your car is travelling, the longer it takes to slow down8 – and the greater the potential for serious damage if you connect with a car, a stationary object like a tree, or worst case, a pedestrian.

Figures from the Queensland State Government9 show that if you’re driving at 60km per hour and need to break suddenly, you’ll scoot along for 25 metres before hitting the breaks. Add an extra 20 metres for the car to reach a stop, and the total stopping distance is 45 metres.

If you’re ripping along at 110km per hour, your reaction distance will be around 46 metres. Braking distance is a whopping 67 metres. So, the total distance to come to a halt is 113 metres – that’s over one-tenth of a kilometre just to bring the car to a standstill!

Add in wet roads, poor visibility or a few driver distractions and braking times can be even longer.

5. Speeding fines – they’re going to hurt

The time taken to screech to a halt when you’re driving at high speed explains why Australia has strict rules in place around road speeds.

There are still parts of the Northern Territory such as the Barkly Highway, Stuart Highway and Arnhem Highway where the top speed limit is 130km per hour10. But on many roads, it’s likely you’ll be limited to at least half that speed.

Speed limits vary according to where you’re driving even within the same state or territory. The ‘go slow’ areas tend to be around schools and in built-up suburban areas. Luckily, there are always road signs to let you know the legal limit.

Average speeding fines

Regardless of where you’re driving, the moral of the speeding story is that you can be left seriously out of pocket if you get caught.

In Queensland for instance, the average speeding fine is $210 – that’s about five hour’s work. Drive 40km per hour over the speed limit though, and you could be up for a lot more, like $1,286 plus a 6-month driving suspension. Who needs that?11.

Not to mention the impact on your driving record. Law enforcement doesn’t take licence related offences lightly. You may only cop a hefty fine but chances are, that dangerous dash could have some serious consequences when it comes to your demerit points.

How to avoid speeding fines

Plenty of drivers have learned the hard way: The simplest solution to avoid speeding fines is sticking to the limit.

Sure, there are a few apps to identify speed traps that can help you game the system. But they may not be much help if there’s an unmarked patrol car sitting on your tail.

And don’t plan to rely on a far-fetched yarn to get off the hook when flashing blue lights appear in the rear mirror.

Chances are the cop you’re dealing with has heard it all before – including some of the dodgiest excuses listed on like “I wasn’t speeding, I just got a haircut and it makes me look fast” or “I wanted to get to McDonald’s before the breakfast menu ended”12.

Impact on car insurance if you’re caught

Can a speeding fine impact your car cover? Yes…and no. If you get caught speeding, you’ll earn a few demerit points. According to insurer AAMI13, insurance companies don’t usually base your premium on the number of demerit points you’ve racked up.

It’s a different story if you’ve accumulated so many points that your licence is suspended. When that happens, AAMI says you could be seen as a high risk driver, which will likely bump up your premiums.

Remember, when you’re organising cover, the insurance company will often ask about your driving track record. If you don’t answer truthfully, any claims can be refused.

Car insurance doesn’t come cheap, and if you’re strapped for cash to pay for cover, a Nimble AnyTime Mastercard can come to the rescue, providing funds at top speed to pay the premiums pronto.

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