New York Police Department (NYPD) officials stated that speed was a contributing factor in a car accident that killed four young Queens residents in April 2014. The victims of the car crash were Darius Fletcher, 21; Jada Monique-Butts, 19; Crystal Gravely, 19, and Jaleed Furtado, 20. Andrew Gramm, 20, the driver of the vehicle was the only person to survive the accident, but he did suffer from serious injuries. He faces no criminal charges as a result of the crash.
According to police investigators, Gramm was probably speeding on a rainy and foggy evening when the accident occurred. As Gramm approached a dead end road, he attempted to make a quick U-turn on the wet road and flipped the vehicle, which careened into Steinway Creek in Queens. As the car began sinking, Gramm was able to exit the vehicle and call 911. Rescue divers attempted to free the four young passengers who were trapped in the vehicle which was submerged in eight feet of water. The divers were not able to save the passengers.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), speed plays a significant role in many motor vehicle accidents and fatalities each year. In 2010, 10,210 people were killed in speed-related accidents–over one-third of all vehicle fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that speed-related accidents cost the United States $40 billion every year. Age and gender play a significant role in speeding accidents. Young males are most likely to be involved in speeding crashing that result in death or serious injuries. One study determined that the rate of speeding violations per mile traveled is three times higher for people ages 16 through 19.
Throughout the years, studies and research has shown that speeding and car accidents are directly related. When states raise their speed limits, drivers tend to go faster than posted limits, resulting in increased accidents and fatalities. In 1973, the federal government, in response to the oil shortage at the time, required all states to reduce their highway speed limits to 55 mph. States that failed to comply with this limit would not receive federal funding for highway repairs. As a result, from 1973 through 1974, auto fatalities decreased by 4,000.
In 1995, the National Highway System Designation Act repealed the national speed limit and allowed states to pass their own speed limit laws. In 22 states, the highway speed limit is now 70 mph. In 12 states, including Montana and New Mexico, the speed limit is 75 mph. The speed limit on a new rural highway in Texas is 85 mph.
It is important to note that most government crash studies are conducted at 35 mph, which is considered to be a severe impact speed. Safety features such as seat belts and air bags become more ineffective as the result of high speed crashes.
Police Eye Speed, Weather In Astoria Crash That Killed 4, CBS News, April 6, 2014