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Drivers' need for speed is hard to break

Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 | 10:30 AM ET
Mikkel William Nielsen | Vetta | Getty Images

Feel like you speed without even realizing it? You aren't alone.

A new study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that more than a quarter of those surveyed said "speeding is something I do without feeling."

Not surprisingly, just as many said, "I enjoy the feeling of driving fast."

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The report comes as the federal government moves to curb fatalities linked to speeding through public service announcements, such as the Click It Or Ticket campaign. Nearly a third of all traffic deaths, almost 10,000 annually, are due to speeding-related accidents, according to NHTSA.

"This is another reminder, as the busy holiday season approaches, to obey speed limits, reduce speed in inclement weather conditions and allow plenty of time to arrive safely," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

One of the more troubling findings from NHTSA's National Survey of Speeding Attitudes and Behavior involves the idea that drivers think they have the skills to avoid deadly crashes at high speeds. Sixteen percent of those surveyed said they feel "driving over the speed limit is not dangerous for skilled drivers."

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But that theory is flawed, according to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Motorists who drive at excessive speeds put themselves and others at an increased risk of being involved in a crash and possibly of being injured or killed," he said.

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Incredibly, about four in five drivers questioned think driving at or near the speed limit makes it easier to avoid dangerous situations and lowers the odds of a crash.

The report also found that the highest percentage of those who admit to speeding are teenagers. In fact, 11 percent of respondents ages 16 to 20 admitted to having at least one speeding-related crash in the last five years. That compares to 4 percent for the rest of the population.

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In the survey, male drivers admitted to speeding more often than female drivers.

Given many Americans' need for speed, NHTSA has launched a public service campaign called "5 to Drive." The program urges teenagers to think about five behaviors that could help avoid a crash: No speeding, no cellphone use or texting while driving, no extra passengers. no alcohol and no driving or riding without a seat belt.

—By CNBC's Phil LeBeau. Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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