An old safety ad at one time stated, “Speed kills.” As a car or truck moves at greater speeds, multiple issues develop. The tires have a more difficult time maintaining traction on a road surface. Controlling those tires becomes more and more difficult, as the forces exerted are greater. Stopping distance increases, as more energy must be used to bring the vehicle to a stop.
Control also becomes more difficult because a driver’s ability to recognize changes in conditions on the road surface or behavior of other vehicle is harder to identify due to the reduction in time a driver has to react. At extreme speeds, by the time a driver recognizes a problem, it may be too late to successfully stop.
In addition, the safety systems in most vehicles become less effective, and their ability to protect a driver and occupants is compromised. Most crash testing is done at relatively low speeds, and even the “safest” cars and trucks on the road at 35 miles per hour may provide low levels of protection to a driver when the vehicle's speed approaches triple digits.
Such a crash happened last month on I-77 when a BMW traveling at “a high rate of speed,” crashed into the rear of a moving tractor-trailer at 1:45 a.m. The three occupants of the BMW were killed, with a North Carolina State trooper calling it one of the worst crashes he had seen in a long time.
The truck driver was uninjured, and at first did not even recognize a vehicle had struck his truck, thinking it was a flat tire. The BMW hit with such force that the entire vehicle was smashed under the rear bed of the trailer behind the wheels.
Many rear-end collisions like this typically occur when another vehicle strikes a parked truck on the side of the road. If the truck was traveling at the speed limit and the BMW was being driven in excess of 100 mph, the forces involved would be similar to crashing into a stationary object at 50 or 60 mph.
It was unclear if alcohol was involved, but driving any vehicle at that speed on a darkened interstate all but guarantees a bad outcome.