SpeedGauge data reveals that speeding enforcement varies strongly by jurisdiction, a cautionary note for insurance underwriters using speeding violations as an input to risk models.
As a follow up to SpeedGauge’s summary paper, “Speeding and Traffic Enforcement 2016-2020”, we decided to take a deeper dive into the data to shed more light on the numbers for 2020 and what they mean to insurers and transporters. We came up with some interesting revelations.
Although the Coronavirus pandemic has reduced significantly overall miles driven in the past two-plus years, we are nonetheless seeing a higher incidence of speeding, leading to increased speeding tickets and recorded incidents. (SpeedGauge’s speeding frequency study for the U.S. illustrates these increases in speed.)
A View of Speeding from FMCSA:
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2020 regulated carriers were issued 486,618 tickets. The following map shows the distribution of those tickets across the U.S., highlighting the states with the highest concentration of speeding citations. In the FMCSA’s tally, California accounted for more than 5% of all speeding tickets in the country in 2020.
A Closer Look at Speeding from SpeedGauge:
SpeedGauge analyzed granular telematics data from over 12,000 fleets and 1.1 million vehicles. This proprietary data reveals that the speeding tickets recorded by FMCSA do not necessarily correlate to where speeding actually happens. What is really happening on the road? Let’s take a closer look.
This speeding incidents map derived from SpeedGauge customer data shows relative speeding patterns by state in 2020.
In the SpeedGauge analysis, speeding is much higher along the west coast. For example, California accounts for just under 5.5% of all speeding infractions, yet SpeedGauge telematics data shows that about 9% of all speeding occurs in California. Conversely, in SpeedGauge’s analysis, only 3.3% of the nation’s speeding happens in Georgia, whereas the FMCSA shows Georgia accounting for over 9.6% of infractions.
What Does This Mean?
If we assume that SpeedGauge’s large installed base is representative of all FMCSA regulated vehicle traffic, then the comparative analysis of the distribution of speeding tickets and total speeding incidents means that speeding enforcement varies widely by state.
As the two speeding maps demonstrate, there is a bias in enforcement. An additional complication is the amount of driving in each state. California obviously has many more vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) than states like West Virginia. Correcting for the differences in VMT, SpeedGauge data reveals the states with the most (and least) stringent speed enforcement.
Several factors no doubt impact these figures, such as law enforcement resources, the number of road miles in each state, the distribution between interstate and non-interstate roads within individual states, etc. But the disparity between FMCSA-reported speeding tickets and actual speeding incidents recorded by SpeedGauge remains.
And Why Should This Matter to Insurers?
Speeding violations are used as a major input in insurance underwriting and, indeed, for FMCSA BASIC scores. Speeding in any jurisdiction represents a serious safety and claims risk; however, insurance underwriters must be careful about using FMCSA violations as an input to underwriting because of the bias in enforcement.
SpeedGauge proprietary data shows that risk posed by speeders in low-enforcement jurisdictions is not being captured in speeding violations data. For insurers it means that if underwriters are using speeding tickets as an input, then they need to use a miles-driven-in-jurisdiction modifier to adjust for the variation in enforcement by jurisdiction.
The Key Takeaway from SpeedGauge’s Analysis of FMCSA Traffic Enforcement Data?
Speeding tickets alone provide an incomplete picture of driving risk.