But it’s just 10mph over the speed limit, Trooper

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(COLORADO) – A common question troopers get asked at social gatherings or in brief conversation is, “How fast can I go over the speed limit before I get pulled over?” The trooper may respond with a rhetorical question, “What is the posted speed limit?” Although speed is probably the most commonly violated law on the roadway, there is a reason why the speed limit should be important to you: will you stop in time?

Two things must be considered when we look at how long it will take a vehicle to stop: 1) Stopping distance plus 2) distance traveled before the driver observes and reacts to brake.  Let’s play out the math. Assuming there is a dry road and a motorist has a properly braking passenger vehicle, a vehicle traveling at 55mph will take 144 feet to stop plus an additional 64 feet (based on current perception/reaction time data). This means it will take the vehicle 208 feet to stop. That is over half of a football field.

Therefore, if a motorist is traveling 55mph on a highway with a two-car length following distance, this vehicle would have already crashed into the vehicle in front of them before the driver began to brake. Many motorists don’t consider the space they need to maintain around them when driving at high rates of speed. Two-car lengths are commonly practiced, but it is grossly deficient. A good rule of thumb is to have one car length per 10mph traveled.   

In 2023, troopers investigated 2,860 fatal and injury crashes around the state that included speed as a factor. Speeding was found to be the top causal factor for 685 of those crashes, followed by lane violations (632) and impaired driving (588).

The counties that had the most fatalities caused by speeding (based on the crashes referred to above) were:

  • Adams
  • El Paso
  • Mesa
  • Eagle
  • Mineral

People crash in many speed-related scenarios, especially when coupled with other poor driving choices such as driving while impaired, being distracted or performing other aggressive actions behind the wheel. Motorists need to remember that it is not the initial act of speeding that kills you; the sudden stop at the end does. 

The faster you travel, the more distance is traveled, and your potential for a serious injury or fatal crash increases.

Why else should we obey the speed limit? With so many people complaining about speeding and aggressive drivers, we all have contributed to the problem. If the average driver thinks it’s okay to go 5 mph or 10 mph above the speed limit, the risk-takers will go faster than that.

Speeding is a roadway user problem for motorists and pedestrians. So the answer is, the posted speed limit needs to be your top limit. Anything over the posted limit is speeding and subject to a potential citation. Let’s all do our part to drive down reckless roadway behaviors and put Colorado on track to be one of the safest states to travel in.

Troopers continue to take a low-tolerance approach to the top fatal crash factors, including lane violations, impaired driving and speeding, while launching a yearlong campaign called “Drive Safe.” This campaign celebrates positive driving behaviors and encourages all of us to drive like a trooper is riding with you.


Since our origin in 1935, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has focused on preserving human life and protecting property within our communities. Our 1,100 members embody the core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect in their daily jobs.  In addition to our expertise in motor vehicle safety on the state’s roadways, the CSP is responsible for the Governor and other dignitaries’ protection, commercial motor vehicle enforcement, hazardous materials, homeland security, communications, investigative services, criminal interdiction, community education, aviation operations, and more.