Ryan Dunn is dead.  His car went off the road, jumped the guardrail, and crashed into a tree.  The vehicle then burst into flames and burned Dunn’s remains.

The police said “preliminary investigation revealed that speed may have been a contributing factor to the accident.”  Dunn may have been going as fast as 110 mph, according to TMZ.

Alcohol may have played a role because Dunn was pictured drinking just hours before his fatal accident.

Speeding is the primary cause of about one-third of all automobile fatalities.  In 2009, it was responsible for 10,591 deaths, or 31 percent of total fatalities.  In addition to the human costs, high-speed crashes cost the US economy more than $40 billion per year, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) said in high-speed crashes, internal restrain systems such as airbags and safety belts become insufficient to protect occupants.  The effectiveness of road barriers and crash cushions also becomes diminished.

A US Census report in 2008 showed that 77 percent of interstate highway fatal crashes happened to vehicles traveling over 55 mph.

Moreover, the IIHS stated that speeding increases the likelihoods of crashes in the first place because it:

1) Increases the distance the vehicle travels from the time the driver detects an emergency to the time he reacts

2) Increases the distance the vehicle will keep going after the driver starts to brake