Blame it on the popularity of NASCAR, but an American desire for speedy vehicles is spilling off the racetracks and onto the nation's highways.
Auto manufacturers are promoting faster cars these days as one way to get out of the worst sales slump since 1963. Sales of cars like the Corvette, which can hit 175 mph, for example, are more than brisk.
Even environmentally responsible and safety-conscious Honda has succumbed with this ad: "Two roads diverged in a wood - and I took the one less traveled by state troopers."
According to a recent USA Today study, 10 percent of speeding tickets issued in 2002 were issued to drivers going 90 miles per hour or faster. Compare that to 2 percent in 1991.
And the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration reports that in 2002, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent (13,713 lives) of all fatal crashes. And note this interesting statistic: Only 13 percent of those fatalities occurred on Interstate highways.
The speed scene is also seen in video games like the "Need for Speed" series, which promises that gamers (mostly teenage males) can "enter the world of urban street racing and high performance tuner cars."
No matter the cause, it's time to cool the hot-rod mentality and obey the rules of the road. And auto executives should also come up with ad campaigns with less deadly appeal.