In his book How Math Can Save Your Life (Wiley, 2010) James D. Stein asks whether it makes sense to cut a few minutes off your trip by driving faster. The short answer is no. He looks first at kinetic energy, which increases as the square of the velocity. A car traveling at 70 mph has 36% more kinetic energy than one traveling at 60 mph (702/602) and a car traveling at 75 mph has 56% more kinetic energy than one traveling at 60 mph. You can do a lot more damage to yourself and your car in an accident at higher speeds.
Stein also cites the work of MIT physicist Max Tegmark who did some expected-value calculations based on data compiled in the early years of this century. Fasten your seatbelts! “Each hour of driving on an interstate freeway decreases life expectancy by 19 minutes. . . . Each hour of driving in local city traffic decreases life expectancy by 8 minutes. . . . Each hour spent riding a motorcycle decreases life expectancy by 5 hours.” (p. 82)
According to some hypotheses, at least, last Thursday’s tape indicates that high frequency trading may be even more dangerous than racing a motorcycle on a freeway when an “accident” happens. Speed kills—and traffic seizes up.