Speeding isn’t the first crime you think of as “criminal”, and most people have been ticketed for it at one time or another.
Breaking the law is one thing, acting against the laws of physics is another. It’s easy to forget about the energies at work when you give the car a little gas. Let’s say that a car is only doing 30 miles an hour when it slams into a brick wall.
For an instant, the car and everything inside are subjected to a force of 20 Gs- 20 times the Earth’s pull on us and nearly seven times what astronauts endure for launch or re-entry- which is enough to rupture delicate nerves, blood vessels and organs. The driver might have been going faster, and stomped on his brakes to lessen the force of the impact, but the human body requires time to assess danger and to act upon it. For visual stimuli, we require an average of a quarter second to begin reacting to danger. It also takes time for the car’s brakes to shed all the speed they can. The fractions of seconds add up on the road, and work together to make wrecks not only much more likely, but also much more severe. Modern safety features like crumple zones, airbags, and the all-important seatbelt, work by lengthening the time of impact so the suddenness of the stop suffered by the occupants is lessened. That translates to lower G forces to endure.
The human body isn’t made of glass, but it’s still fragile. People often survive high speed collisions because the G forces only act on them for an instant, but the seconds leading up to a collision and the instant of a hit can have consequences that last for the rest of your life. Nerve damage, broken bones, internal bleeding and damage to organs can be devastating, to say nothing of the psychological trauma of being reminded the hard way that the Laws of Physics and Natural Order don’t issue warnings, citations, or suspensions.
-Written by D.M. Eaton