Commentary: Would large fines slow down speeders?

Slow down!

Motorists going too fast are a primary reason why Sacramento County's highways are among the most dangerous in California.

The mind-blowing 130-mph Memorial Day ride on Interstate 80 by Kings star Tyreke Evans grabbed everyone's attention (553,000 views and counting on YouTube and thousands more on Sacbee.com). He has company in treating local freeways like the set of "The Fast and the Furious."

The California Highway Patrol says that just during May and June, it caught 83 drivers doing more than 100 mph in the Valley, mostly on Sacramento and Stockton highways. As The Bee's Tony Bizjak reported Monday, that's probably only a small fraction of triple-digit speeders.

The long, flat stretches of blacktop that criss-cross the capital city may especially entice young men who want to see how fast their cars can go. But their bravado, and recklessness by drivers of all ages, come at a terrible price.

Sacramento ranked third-worst among California's 58 counties for speed-related fatal and injury crashes and for total fatal and injury collisions (in relation to vehicle miles traveled) in 2008, the most recent figures available. For speed-related collisions that killed or injured, only San Francisco and Napa counties were more dangerous. For all crashes resulting in death or injury, only San Francisco and Calaveras counties were worse than Sacramento.

Overall, traffic fatalities are on the decline, according to figures compiled by the state Office of Traffic Safety. Statewide, the 3,113 fatal collisions in 2008 were the fewest since 1998. The number in Sacramento County plummeted to 84 in 2008 from 122 in 2007.

But that tragic toll is still too steep. Unsafe speed is one of the three most common risk factors, behind only driving while impaired and improper turns.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.