Road Safety News

Police Scotland targets speeding motorists

Wednesday 4th May 2016

A week-long initiative is underway in Scotland as police look to highlight the "potentially devastating effects" of speeding.

Under the Police Scotland initiative, motorists will see an increased police presence in a move to target and educate offenders. The campaign will also look to explain to motorists that road and weather conditions could mean a safe speed is under the posted limit.

Officers are also speaking to vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists about a range of road safety issues.

Chief superintendent Andy Edmonston, head of road policing for Police Scotland, said: “Vulnerable road users accounted for nearly half (95) of all road fatalities in 2014 and a further 3,348 suffered injury.

“We want people to realise the potentially devastating effects their driving can have on others, especially vulnerable road users.

“Limits are there for a reason and show the maximum speed at which it is permitted to drive. However, drivers also need to drive according to the prevailing conditions, adjusting speed accordingly if it is wet, foggy or the sun is low for example.

“By driving at an appropriate speed and being aware of road conditions, you can help us reduce the number of casualties on Scotland's roads and make the roads safer.”


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Nick's view on the use of 'disagree/agree' facility is right. The weather's very pleasant here and I'm going for a swim later - any clairvoyants wish to disagree with that?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

A brief reply to Rodney's lengthy comment: the responsiveness of drivers and vehicles is entirely reasonable at speeds driven in the UK as demonstrated by the 300 bn miles driven every year. The exceptions that dominate the accident figures are low-speed non-speeding accidents and fatalities due to failing to look properly, in the 30mph-60mph region.

'Blighting' the street. Those vehicles are being driven by the shoppers to get to the shops. Have you never visited a mall or supermarket? There's little point in shops if you can't reach them.

'neo-liberal non-collisions' priceless. As in, people in a free country not having accidents? You prefer an Orwellian solution perhaps? And in a stunning counterpoint to that, even the Police acknowledge that around two thirds of the driver population are willing to speed, with traffic monitors going as high as 70%, so in a true democracy the right to make an informed decision as to speed would be protected by law.

And 'outside societal norms' describes your position sir, since the same traffic monitors show speeds are normally distributed about a mean, which in 30mph 70mph (dual carriageway) and motorway limits is centred on the speed limit. Free individuals are indeed normal, and choosing speeds both above and below the limit in a normal fashion.
Andrew Mather, Kent

Agree (7) | Disagree (4)

I often think that although what people want is lower vehicle speeds they ask for lower speed limits thinking the latter leads automatically to the former.

Without changing the appearance of the road or the driver's "natural choice of speed" through each location then merely putting signs up doesn't change much.

Not got time to expand on this so please don't think this is a full explanation of my thoughts on this.

PS I am pretty bemused why 2 people disagree with a posting of a DfT document but you probably know my thoughts on the use of disagree/agree facility?
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

Rod, I agree wholeheartedly with *almost* everything you wrote!

I agree that speed can impair one's ability to react with other road users, I agree that speed has a direct relationship to the severity of collisions, I agree that motor vehicles disproportionately dominate the street scene, I agree that inappropriate motor vehicle speed can also have other negative environmental consequences, I agree that individual motorists have different understandings of what speeds are appropriate for any given circumstance, I agree that appropriate speeds are not necessarily the highest speed that can be achieved without reasonable risk of collision.

Now for the "but"... What I vehemently disagree with (11, on a scale of 1 to 10) is your opinion that speed limits are in any way an appropriate device to even attempt to tackle these inappropriate speed problems with. They do not work. History tells us that, our day to day experiences tell us that and the scientifically robust studies provide evidence of that.

Anyone can see exactly where I'm coming from by comparing two places with the same speed limit - "place A" where speeds are appropriate and "place B" where they are not - and examining why, even under the same limit, motorists choose different speeds (and no, it isn't because the motorists in "place A" are any more considerate). Basically, I think you will find, it is down to exploiting the strengths and not relying on defying the weaknesses of human nature.
Charles, England

Agree (7) | Disagree (4)

Can you genuinely not see Charles, that the campaign to reduce residential limits to 20 (and other reductions as outlined by Iain earlier) actually seeks to address what you rightly see as a problem i.e. inappropriate speeds which are currently difficult to detect, measure and enforce?

The more these inappropriate speeds (i.e. too fast) become illegal, the better I would have thought although from my own experience, I've found that our current speed limits (apart perhaps from the national 60s) are about right in terms of the cut-off point between appropriate/legal and inappropriate/illegal.
Hugh Jones,

Agree (2) | Disagree (5)

I agree with you that that there is a "we have already made up our minds about this" attitude apparent from some contributors here. But it isn't the "speed kills thus slower is safer" stance that troubles me - because I do believe that motor traffic generally travels much too fast in community streets and that more appropriate speeds in those places will result in safer and more socially acceptable road user interactions.

What primarily worries me is the persistence with the ideas (both of which fly in the face of everything that history has taught us) that: (a) it is the motorists who are to blame for this problem, and (b) the insistence that speed limits should play any part, let alone a significant part, in providing a solution to inappropriate speed.

A secondary concern is that when the establishment-favoured or orthodox road safety measures are being discussed, or even "pushed", the road safety professionals who are proponents of those measures always appear to filter ("cherry-pick"?) the evidence to present only that which reinforces their stance, regardless of its quality or integrity, and ignore or even try to discredit evidence which contradicts their stance, regardless of its pedigree and integrity. We need to see a more rigorous understanding of the meaning of "evidence-based" demonstrated, I think.
Charles, England

Agree (6) | Disagree (7)

Certainly there is an attitudal problem in that many people don't realise, or care to realise, the effect of speed in impairing their ability to respond and the ability for their vehicle to be responsive. Neither do they realise the effect of speed on severity of collisions. So, quite rightly, most in road safety do look to change that attitude and get across the message that speed is a key factor in enabling everyone to be more able to avoid collisions.

In addition the speed is a large factor in the "dominance" of motor vehicles on our streets and hence vehicles do not need to be in collisions to have an impact on communities. What to a driver may be a collision and incident free journey, may well be the blighting of a street for shoppers, walkers and cyclists. Speed can not only be toxic in increasing emissions but in denying people the freedom to walk or cycle comfortably and without fear.

But that message is being regularly undermined by those who fail to understand that whilst the correct speed may vary between situations and conditions there is a far greater variation in individuals perception of what is an appropriate speed for any such conditions. The neo-liberal approach that justifies ones speed on the basis of non-collisions fails to meet the needs of society and communities. It also condones the attitudes of those whose perception of appropriate speed differs from the societal norm. That is why speed limits take many factors into account beyond the avoidance and cost of casualties. And that is, quite rightly, vested in elected representatives of the community as a whole.
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty fopr Us

Agree (8) | Disagree (9)

Although hosted on the Road Safety GB website, this is a road safety newsfeed. Its function is to report the news and provide a facility for readers to comment and discuss the news reports. We try to cover as broad a range of road safety stories/issues/topics as possible, not simply ones that Road Safety GB or anyone else supports.

Unless Road Safety GB is quoted in a news report, it is not correct to assume that Road Safety GB supports an initiative that is covered in a news report.

With this in mind, I am puzzled how you come to the conclusion that the 'RSGB view is contrary to good road safety'.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (13) | Disagree (4)

Rest assured that there are some people out here who do consider that casualties are caused by a number of factors. Perhaps it is because speed is possibly the "easiest" and least subjective to measure that it has such high profile. Also at lower speeds it is likely that less severe injuries will result and some may be avoided altogether as the time to take action against the other failings may increase at lower speeds. Work towards addressing behavioural and attitudinal issues is in my experience increasing. Without a multi-discipline approach we will not get anywhere! There is no magic/silver bullet.
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

Starting your sentence with "But" suggests that you agree with the core of Duncan's posting. You may provide a forum, but the RSGB view is contrary to good road safety, as Duncan explains.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

Agree (4) | Disagree (13)

But we do provide the opportunity for people to express their views with regard to speed/speed management - as you, Charles, Hugh and many others have done.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (11) | Disagree (0)

Just a word of advice Charles, but there really is no point in engaging with anybody on this site when it comes to the issue of speed or speed limits, inappropriate or otherwise.

The facts are set in stone "speed kills thus slower is safer" and no amount of rational argument and no amount of evidence to the contrary will ever shift that view. The fact that this golden rule is diverting attention away from what is actually killing people out on the roads makes absolutely no difference at all because the rule is easy to believe and that's all that matters.
Duncan MacKillop. No Surprise - No Accident

Agree (8) | Disagree (14)

Try this
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

Iain, you say "that is exactly what we do". So what was the answer to the implied question of "why traffic speeds in those places [were] clearly very appropriate" despite the speed limits?

And why, if there were no problems, was the speed limit reduced in those places? It will be interesting to see if the speed limit reduction has the effect of increasing average speeds in those areas, as it can do if the average speeds were well below the original speed limit.
Charles, England

Agree (6) | Disagree (6)

Charles: Bearing in mind Iain's summary of what has been done to bring Scotland's limits closer to the appropriate speed, presumably you are now happy that the enforcement of those limits is appropriate and justified, as the 'inappropriate' speeds will now be illegal and easier to detect and clamp down on?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (7)

Hugh, time moves on and we still keep hearing speed limits being touted as part of the final solution - despite the evidence - so we clearly need to continue the discussion.

Also, I was alarmed to see you characterise the 20's plenty campaign as "to make what currently are 'inappropriate' speeds in residential areas illegal and therefore easier to address". That sums up for me one of the major faults of current road safety thinking - that, apparently, the notion that the issue of bad roads can in any way be effectively addressed by creating laws to make scapegoats of the victims of those bad roads is still given any credence.
Charles, England

Agree (10) | Disagree (6)

We could start by looking at places where, despite the speed limit (which will usually be 30mph or 40mph), vehicle speeds are appropriate and where road casualties are not a problem, and try to understand why traffic speeds in those places are clearly very appropriate. - See more at:

To answer this point, that is exactly what we do. We have recently carried out speed review investigations on all A and B routes to determine if the existing limits were appropriate using speed surveys, collision histories and collision rates per 100million vehicle kilometres.

This led to some speed limits to be reduced.
Iain (Scotland)

Agree (4) | Disagree (7)

Rather than drag this thread out, I would refer Charles to the archives under 'speed', where speed, speed limits and enforcement and related matters has been debated endlessly over the years and where more explanations and answers may be found.

I would only add that to reduce the scope for 'inappropriate' speed, I agree that some limits should be lowered to reduce the margin between the legal limit and what might be the 'appropriate' and more desirable speed - an example is the 20s plenty campaign to make what currently are 'inappropriate' speeds in residential areas illegal and therefore easier to address - in theory anyway.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (8)

So in other words Hugh, 99% of our speed limits are a legacy - and although the numbers on them are arbitrary and have no evidence-based or even rational justification, they are still promoted by some as the infallible mainstay of road safety policy. And even though the vast vast majority of collisions do not involve broken speed limits, we still see this irrational obsession with catching speed limit breakers.

The problem that the authorities have is that, because the roads are generally engineered for throughput rather than sociable use, we still suffer unnecessary and unacceptable levels of road casualties due to the consequential inappropriate speed choice by the lulled motorists. But because the only speed offence they can easily target is that of breaking the speed limit, that is the one they concentrate on. Inappropriate speed however remains untackled and road casualties continue to plague us.

The elephant in the room, and the issue that we seem to have trouble coming to terms with, is that it is inappropriate speed (something that cannot be automatically detected, even by speed cameras) and not the breaking the speed limit (which speed cameras can detect) that needs tackling.

Drivers are (for the time being, at least) still all human beings, not automatons, and drive at a speed that the road and its environment lead them, via subliminal processes generally, to believe is safe. The challenge is to ensure that the speed message the road is giving is appropriate as well as being unequivocal - something which speed limits cannot do.

We could start by looking at places where, despite the speed limit (which will usually be 30mph or 40mph), vehicle speeds are appropriate and where road casualties are not a problem, and try to understand why traffic speeds in those places are clearly very appropriate.
Charles, England

Agree (9) | Disagree (8)

I think Charles you misunderstand how speed limits come about. By and large we have a 'one-size fits all' national speed limit system. Probably 99% of the roads we travel on have default national speed limits applied to them i.e. street-lit urban =30; single c/way =60 and dual c/way =70 - any departure from that will be local speed limits, where the Council has decided that the national limit would not be appropriate - the guidance for that is on the Dft website. Please, please, do not assume that the posted speed limit has been somehow 'tested' and is therefore the optimum, or correct, or target speed that always has to be reached and maintained - it's an upper limit - period.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (15) | Disagree (5)

Given that it is openly admitted that paradoxically, despite speed limits being hailed in many quarters as the keystone of road safety because drivers cannot be trusted to choose a safe speed otherwise, because speed limits are set dangerously high for some prevailing conditions, that road safety actually depends on those very same drivers being expected to ignore those speed limits and then being fully trusted to choose their own safe speed according to those prevailing conditions:- perhaps one of the road safety professionals reading this could help us understand the basis upon which those speed limits are set.

By that I mean, what are the "standard prevailing conditions" (temperature, weather conditions, traffic density, lighting conditions, vehicle vintage, driver age and experience, or whatever) under which a posted speed limit for any given road is recognised as being a safe speed to drive at. And what proportion of the time do those conditions need to typically be present for a speed to be deemed suitable as the limit?
Charles, England

Agree (5) | Disagree (11)