Traffic laws vary from state to state, with some states doling out far stricter punishments for the same violations than others. In fact, discrepancies between state traffic laws is so vast that WalletHub decided to conduct a report titled “Strictest And Most Lenient States on Speeding and Reckless Driving.” The goal of the report is to bring awareness to the problem of speeding and its consequences.
Speeding can be both dangerous and costly. According to the WalletHub report, speeding was a factor in 27% of motor vehicle crash deaths and costs society an estimated $40.4 billion each year. State laws go a long way toward preventing speeding violations and their costly consequences, though some are more effective than others.
There is often a direct correlation between the effectiveness of speeding laws and their severity. For instance, the states that received the strictest rankings — Delaware, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and California — also happen to have the highest rate of enforcement and the harshest reckless driving penalties. Delaware scored an eight and one in both categories, respectively; Colorado an 11 and two; Arizona and New Mexico a two and seven; and California an 11 and four.
In comparison, the five most lenient states—Nebraska, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Texas—scored between 45 and 51 for enforcement and between 34 and 45 for the harshness of the punishment. New York ranked somewhere in the middle, at number 20. That Empire State received an enforcement rating of five and a penalty rating of 41.
Most states penalize reckless driving with at least one day of jail time. A conviction often leads to license suspension, though not always. On average, however, point penalties for excessive speeding will get a person 30% closer to a suspension. The average minimum fine for reckless driving is $845, with the lowest being $100 (in Mississippi, Kentucky, Ohio and New Mexico) and the highest being $6,250 (in Oregon).
According to New York State’s Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, speeding in excess of 10 mph over the posted speed limit can result in a jail sentence of not more than 15 days. The fine for this violation is between $90 and $150. Driving at 10 to 30 mph over the posted speed limit may result in a jail sentence of up to 30 days and a fine of between $180 and $300. Driving more than 30 mph over the posted limit may result in a fine of between $360 and $600 and a jail sentence of up to 30 days.
Three reckless driving convictions in 18 months may result in license suspension. Speeding can lead to between three and 11 points on a person’s driving record.