Road Safety News

Practice what you preach, urges charity

Tuesday 3rd September 2013

A new survey suggests that while almost two-thirds of drivers think “traffic is too fast for the safety of kids on foot and bikes” (64%), and “want action to make walking and cycling safer” (65%), many are not reducing their own speed.

The survey, published by Brake and Direct Line, recorded the view of 1,000 drivers from across the UK and has led to Brake calling for drivers to “slow down to 20mph around homes, shops and schools”.

The survey also shows that although drivers say they want safer streets, many are not reducing their speed. 63% of respondents admitted to driving at 35mph or faster in a 30 limit and 29% do this at least once a week; 67% explained they feel pressure from other drivers to go faster in built up areas, and 33% said they give in to this pressure to make them drive faster.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “While it's important kids and young people receive road safety education, it's crucial that drivers take on the ultimate responsibility for protecting children on foot and bike.

“Our research shows there's a contradiction in what some drivers say they want and the way they behave at the wheel.

“As well as campaigning for Government and local authorities to do more to reduce speeds in communities to tackle pedestrian and cyclist casualties and create nicer places to live, we're appealing to drivers everywhere to do their bit too.

“By slowing down to 20mph around homes, shops and schools, you'll be helping to save lives, and enabling kids to walk and cycle more in their neighbourhoods.”

Contact Siobhan MacMahon at Brake on 01484 550063 for more information.


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Although, as I have said, I support the message, I am nevertheless puzzled by the last para of the article which talks about "..slowing down to 20mph.." (?) Is this a clumsy reference to 20mph speed limits generally i.e. where 20 would be the max? or just a suggested slower speed? In which case it would be absurd to suggest this would be slow enough for certain situations or always appropriate. I think they've spoilt their message by doing this. Better to have just left it as 'slowing down' without mentionng a specific speed.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (1)

Perhaps the results of the Milgram experiment are visible in Brakes's survey results? Milgram found that people generally comply with their moral codes when authority is not present (acting safely and responsibly, though not necessarily legally) but, when authority is present, will comply with authority rather than act according to their own moral code. Milgram explained his results by saying that 'most people don't have the social skills necessary to successfully challenge authority'.

Therefore, when faced with questions like 'is traffic too fast for the safety of kids on foot and bikes', people give the answer they know the authorities want. But, when authority is not present and faced with a clear road that has no children on foot or bikes, they simply revert to acting safely and responsibly.

This may be just 1 of many possible explanations for the differences between survey results and people's actions in practice.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (13) | Disagree (3)

Eric and Rod:
I'm going to intercept this thread at an early stage because we will simply be going over old ground.

Eric has expressed very strong views about Rod King and the 20's Plenty campaign, and Rod has responded to the points Eric has made.

Can we now leave it for our readers to agree or disagree with the two of you, and to add further comments to the thread should they wish to do so.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (13) | Disagree (0)


Results are fine. Every local authority conducting wide-area 20mph pilots has subsequently expanded them across the complete authority. They have done so with a close and detailed scrutiny of the results with far greater precision than your telescope view from afar.

I have every confidence that Road Safety Professionals in local authorities across the country will continue to see lower speed limits as a legitimate and effective tool in increasing road safety.

One of the reasons for the success of the whole 20's Plenty movement is that we are prepared to engage with communities, politicians and professionals at all levels. We try to understand objectives and concerns and work at maximising the success of schemes.

And yes its is about social engagement and behaviour change. But it's certainly not an experiment. For millions of years communities have been engaging to work out and develop the rules of behaviour and the balance between what is shared and what is private. The 20's Plenty movement is nothing more than a very small, but important, part of that process.
Rod King 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (12) | Disagree (7)

Road safety is not about "sharing public spaces" (that is something for social architects to ponder). Road safety is about minimising death and injuries on public highways. Mr King, and his 20's Plenty accomplices, promote this behavioural change experiment in spite of the results to date. Road safety professionals should distance themselves from Mr King and his misleading propaganda.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (7) | Disagree (20)

This whole debate is so important because road safety is not just about the mechanics of roads, vehicles and street design, but as much about behaviour change and the way that we value and share our public spaces. It's this sort of debate, coupled with the other report on the cost of denying our children independent mobility because of fear of road traffic speed, that is enabling communities to examine their attitudes to sharing and road safety.

And slowing down doesn't only give us more time to react to situations but also a far more personal engagement with their road users when we have time to recognise their faces, see their features and also even their smiles. We feel more part of the community in such circumstances and less isolated. So well done to Brake and Direct Line for bringing this to our attention.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (14) | Disagree (9)

It's the old chestnut where residents want traffic to slow whilst in their street, but they are the first to get done for speeding down it.
bob craven lancs

Agree (20) | Disagree (1)

As has been explained on this site many times, to state that "By slowing down to 20mph around homes, shops and schools, you'll be helping to save lives" is wishful thinking, not supported by the results of 20mph implementation. I'm also sceptical about the value of what drivers say in surveys, and how that data is used.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (9) | Disagree (19)

"'s crucial that drivers take on the ultimate responsibility..." That's it in a nutshell. The attitude of some motorised road users is the fundamantal problem on the roads. Everyone should be a conscientous motorist/rider and be prepared to take responsibilty for their actions.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)