Speed kills. We have all been told that since driver’s education class, and yet American drivers routinely exceed the speed limit. Before you underestimate the danger of exceeding the speed limit, consider that in 2016, speeding was a factor in 27 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths. Speeding is costly, too. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the annual economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is $40.4 billion.
Another important issue is the impact of speeding on fuel consumption. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as a rule of thumb, you can assume that every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph will cost you 7 percent more for gasoline.
Some states are tougher on speeding and reckless drivers than others. To find out which states take the hardest line on dangerous driving behavior, WalletHub compared driving laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The results and our detailed methodology – along with expert commentary – can be found below.
Strictest States on Speeding and Reckless Driving
|State||Overall Score||Reckless Penalties
|T - 3||Arizona||17.00||7||2|
|T - 3||New Mexico||17.00||7||2|
|T - 8||Illinois||14.00||16||4|
|T - 8||Virginia||14.00||25||1|
|T - 8||Alabama||14.00||7||19|
|T - 8||Washington||14.00||12||8|
|T - 13||West Virginia||12.50||5||36|
|T - 13||MaryLand||12.50||25||5|
|T - 17||Wyoming||11.00||11||32|
|T - 17||Vermont||11.00||12||29|
|T - 17||Georgia||11.00||25||17|
|T - 20||District Of Columbia||10.50||34||11|
|T - 20||New York||10.50||41||5|
|T - 20||Florida||10.50||34||11|
|T - 20||Rhode Island||10.50||25||19|
|T - 24||Hawaii||10.00||25||23|
|T - 24||Alaska||10.00||16||29|
|T - 24||Louisiana||10.00||40||11|
|T - 24||Maine||10.00||16||29|
|T - 29||Missouri||8.50||41||19|
|T - 29||Tennessee||8.50||41||19|
|T - 29||Pennsylvania||8.50||45||11|
|T - 29||South Dakota||8.50||16||40|
|T - 29||Utah||8.50||25||32|
|T - 34||Indiana||8.00||41||23|
|T - 34||Connecticut||8.00||25||36|
|T - 34||Minnesota||8.00||25||36|
|T - 34||Nevada||8.00||22||40|
|T - 34||North Dakota||8.00||22||40|
|T - 39||Massachusetts||7.00||34||36|
|T - 39||New Hampshire||7.00||16||49|
|T - 39||Michigan||7.00||16||49|
|T - 39||Wisconsin||7.00||45||23|
|T - 43||Kentucky||6.50||45||26|
|T - 43||Montana||6.50||33||45|
|T - 43||Ohio||6.50||45||26|
|T - 43||South Carolina||6.50||45||26|
|T - 47||Nebraska||6.00||34||45|
|T - 47||New Jersey||6.00||34||45|
|T - 49||Oklahoma||5.50||34||48|
|T - 49||Mississippi||5.50||45||32|
- Nearly three quarters of the states and DC have “absolute” speed limits, which means that exceeding the limit is enough evidence for a conviction. But about 26 percent of the states leave room for interpretation with “prima facie” laws — or a “mixed” combination of absolute and prima facie rules — allowing speeders to argue in court that their speed was in fact reasonable.
- Reckless drivers should expect, on average, to spend at least one day in jail for their first offense and three days for their second offense.
- In most states drivers are subject to license suspension under a point system. Your first offense might not get your license suspended, but enough accumulation of points will. On average, point penalties for speeding will get you 30 percent closer to a suspension.
- The average maximum cost of a ticket for reckless driving is $845, with the lowest being $100 (in Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Ohio) and the highest at approximately $6,250 (Oregon).
- More than half (52 percent) of states do not automatically cite drivers for reckless driving based on a specific speed threshold or a specific number of mph over the limit.
- 42 percent of states and DC use speed cameras to automatically catch and fine speeding drivers.
Ask The Experts
To understand the total cost of speeding to society – and what can be done to reduce its occurrence – we consulted a panel of traffic safety experts. Click on their profiles below to read their bios and insights on the following key questions:
- As traffic worsens in many cities, drivers' tempers get shorter. What can states do to reduce road rage and aggressive driving?
- Average highway speeds are much higher now than in the days of the national 55 mph speed limit. How has this affected efforts to reduce fuel consumption?
- What road design & traffic calming measures have been shown to be effective at reducing speeding?
- Young drivers have a harder time resisting the temptation to drive fast. What steps can states and parents take to help new drivers learn safe driving habits?
Ask the Experts
To measure the strictness of states’ laws against speeding, WalletHub collected data for all 50 states and D.C. on the following metrics and applied the corresponding scores. The strictest states will have the highest scores. We then summed the scores for speeding and reckless driving in order to obtain a final rank for each state.
Speeding – Total Points: 14
- Speeding Automatically Considered Reckless Driving
(In states where reckless driving was defined as a specific speed and not “miles per hour over the limit,” scoring is based on the difference between the designated speed and the maximum posted speed limit in the state.)
- 15 -19 mph over speed limit (3 points)
- 20 - 24 mph over speed limit (2.5 points)
- 25 -29 mph over speed limit (2 points)
- 30 -34 mph over speed limit (1.5 points)
- 35+ mph over speed limit (1 point)
- Not set (0 points)
- Type of Speed Limit
- Absolute (2 points)
- Mixed (a combination between prima facie and absolute) (1 points)
- Prima Facie (meaning a driver caught speeding can argue in court that the speed was in fact reasonable and prudent and thus not be fined) (0 points)
- Average Increase in Cost of Insurance After One Speeding Ticket (20 mph over the speed limit)
- 40% or more (2 points)
- 30%-39.99% (1.5 points)
- 20%-29.99% (1 point)
- 10%-19.99% (0.5 points)
- 0%-9.99% (0 points)
- Laws in Place Prohibiting Racing on Highway
- Yes (1 point)
- No (0 points)
- Does the State Use Automatic Speed Cameras
- Yes (3 points)
- No (0 points)
- Additional Penalties for Aggressive Driving
(For example, tailgating, racing, etc.)
- Yes (1 point)
- No (0 points)
- How Much Do Speeding Tickets Count Toward a Suspension (for speeding 70 mph in a 55 mph zone)
(Multiple speeding tickets can result in a suspended license, either through a point system or simply due to the number of violations. This metric illustrates how much one speeding ticket will count toward an eventual suspension.)
- 45% or more (2 points)
- 35% - 44.99% (1.5 points)
- 25% - 34.99% (1 point)
- 15% - 24.99% (0.5 points)
- 0% - 14.99% (0 points)
Reckless Driving – Total Points: 16
- Mandatory License Suspension (for first conviction)
- 3 months or more (3 points)
- 2 - 2.9 months (2 points)
- 1 - 1.9 months (1 point)
- Under 1 month (0 points)
- Minimum Jail Time (for first conviction)
- 10 days or more (6 points)
- 5 - 9 days (4 points)
- 1 - 4 days (1 point)
- Under 1 day (0 points)
- Maximum Fine (for first conviction)
- $900 or more (2 points)
- $600 - $899 (1.5 points)
- $300 - $599 (1 point)
- $0 - $299 (0 points)
- Minimum Jail Time (for second conviction)
- 20 days or more (3 points)
- 10 - 19 days (1.5 point)
- 1 - 9 days (1 point)
- Under 1 day (0 points)
- Maximum Fine (for second conviction)
- $1,800 or more (2 points)
- $1,200 - $1,799 (1.5 points)
- $600 - $1,199 (1 point)
- $0 - $599 (0 points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, National Conference of State Legislatures, and WalletHub research.