Road Safety News

UK Road Safety Week to address ‘major problem’ of speed

Wednesday 19th April 2017

Brake has announced that the ‘dangers of speeding’ will be the focus of UK Road Safety Week 2017, which takes place between 20-26 November.

Brake says that in the UK, and across the globe, speeding is still ‘a major problem’, pointing to a Dutch study which suggests ‘drivers with one speeding violation annually are twice as likely to crash as those with none’.

Brake also cites DfT figures which show that breaking the speed limit, or travelling too fast for conditions, was recorded as a contributory factor in 23% of fatal crashes in 2015.

The charity also says that in a survey it conducted, four in 10 of drivers who participated admitted they ‘sometimes’ drive at 30mph in 20mph zones.

The speed theme goes hand-in-hand with that chosen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the 2017 UN Global Road Safety Week (8-14 May). WHO is encouraging drivers across the globe to show their support for the fourth Global Road Safety Week by pledging to #SlowDown.

Founded in 1997, Brake’s Road Safety Week encourages communities to take action on road safety and promote ‘life-saving’ messages. The week also provides a focal point for professionals to boost road safety awareness and engagement.

Road Safety Week 2017 will use the hashtag #speeddown to help raise awareness about the ‘dangers posed by speeding drivers’. Brake is encouraging campaigners, community groups, road safety professionals, companies and schools to register for a free action pack.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “Road Safety Week is an opportunity to bring together individuals, businesses and community organisations to focus, this year, on the deadly menace of speed.

“We’ve designed this year’s theme to raise awareness of the growing concern of speed on our roads, whether major routes, urban areas, or rural roads. We’ve started pulling together a creative campaign, built around the hashtag #speeddown, which will get everyone thinking about how they drive on our roads.”

Want to know more about speed and road safety?
Online library of research and reports etc - visit the Road Safety Knowledge Centre
Key facts and summaries of research reports - visit the Road Safety Observatory


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

I agree to disagree on this. Especially now motorways are seriously being considered for downgrades to meet junk science emission levels. So that will mean another road I can speed on and be condemned for. Oh, Top Gear is an entertainment program and has nothing to do with general motoring.
Terry Hudson. Kent

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

I think you’re confusing the highway with a racetrack Terry! (You’re not an avid viewer of Top Gear by any chance are you? Your attitude to driving and the use of the highway and those who manage them suggests to me you might be.)

What you and they won’t accept is that the highways are for everyone and the behaviour of its users therefore has to be regulated for the benefit of everyone. Whatever the speed limit is on a road, the authorities are simply stating that it is desirable and appropriate that vehicle speeds do not exceed x mph - for good reason. Usually, in my experience (actual measurement – not guesswork) these limits are either at, or above, what the majority of drivers do, but either way, those who do exceed these limits regularly by doing so are depicting a reckless or careless attitude and are the ones who we need to clamp down on, hence the enforcement. I’ve met so many speeders - very few were really in control, the rest shouldn’t be allowed out in a pedal car. The problem is too many speeders are blissfully unaware of their own limitations and don’t understand car control – those that do, are content to behave responsibly knowing they don’t have anything to prove – some even put their expertise to good use and even become traffic engineers and road safety officers. Subject closed I hope.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Hugh, while I agree that posted speed limits are supposed to be maximum speeds, drivers expectations, see it a lot different. Otherwise we would not have thousands of speed cameras or fear of speed cameras when going about our daily lives.

Surely as I see it, one TRO can cover as many roads as councils like? In the small town of Tunbridge Wells, they have just downgraded FIFTY roads in one hit 30mph-20mph! This is now becoming the norm, where even small villages are falling to this practice of multiply downgrades. So very easy to have hundreds of downgrades.

I totally disagree with your comment on the 85% percentile ruling. While those in the road safety industry might drive, cars are just a tool that does a job, just like white goods, fridges, washing machines etc, so these 'experts' have no interest in driving, they just happen to be driving passengers! That is why they are so enamoured with autonomous vehicles, because they hate driving and do not understand that millions enjoy driving and the input and thought processes it requires.
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

Terry - I think you might have a misconception of speed limits generally. They're an upper limit only and the authorities don't state that drivers must 'drive at the posted limit and make out they are automatically going to be driving safely'. I think you might be quoting Safespeed or the ABD there.

As I said earlier, the national limits apply to the class and character of roads by default and local limits are only where the local authority felt the national limit inappropriate. Knowing what's involved in making a TRO and the cost, I don't believe that 'hundreds of roads annually are having their speeds downgraded or lengthened' - in one County that's impossible!

Even if it were logistically and financially possible to match speed limits to the 85th%ile speeds everywhere, you would see either a reduction across the board or no change - certainly no increases. Without knowing it, you probably spend most of your driving time on roads whose speed limit is above or close to the 85th% ile anyway. Don't forget - those tasked with regulating traffic - whether by speed limits or other measures - are motorists themselves and are regular users of the roads they manage.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

Hugh, I cannot accept your 'rosy' picture on how speed limits are set, I am sure Cheshire cannot be that different to any other part of the country! Most of Kent's TRO's are for speed limit reductions, with hundreds of roads annually having their speeds downgraded or lengthened. Nationally we are now in the middle of all 30mph limited roads being downgraded to 20mph, for no other reason than to meet Walking & Cycling political agendas. What speed limit is nowadays set to the pretty worldwide universal accepted 85% percentile guidance?

How are you going to educate people to drive to prevailing conditions, when all you are doing, is to tell them to drive at the posted limit and make out they are automatically going to be driving safely? This simplistic nonsense is where it has all gone wrong.

Perhaps with all the anti/pro speed limit arguments, readers might be interested in this article?
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Roughly about 90-95% of ALL UK highways i.e. all town and country, are subject to national speed limits and have been for decades Terry and would not involve local councillors anyway, so you can't blame them!

In my experience, because of the regular interaction between councillors and their traffic staff, they are quite clued-up about local speed limits anyway and wouldn't waste their time trying to lower a speed limit to assist someone egressing their property. Misguided requests for speed limit change are usually nipped in the bud at officer level.

The way I judge drivers is usually by their speed - it is actually one of the best indicators of how someone is driving. Several speeders have been honest to admit to admit to me that they are 'poor drivers'!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

Hugh, I only speak as a 'speeding' driver that has driven for over fifty years without hurting or injuring anybody. When I first got my licence in 1964 there was only a few 30mph, occasional 40mph limits in towns and a few villages, therefore there was very little 'speeding' per se. Now of course every road has a speed limit, so hence more 'speeding'. Speeding and recklessness are not the same thing, if judged intelligently!

I only have contested TRO's on a personal basis, hoping somebody might listen and look at the real issues. Sadly now of course, so many speed limit downgrades are not down to accidents, but to encourage 'Cycling & Walking' agenda's.

Highways England roads tend to have national speed limits (NSL) but all other roads come under County Council jurisdiction and in the south of England, you would find it hard to find rural two-way, or even duel carriageways at NSL. The only roads around here at NSL, tend to be single lane country roads! So even with a theoretical 60mph speed limit they are not littered with wreaked vehicles, because drivers appreciate the hazards and drive at an appropriate speed. But, on more open and wide safer roads, speeds are consistently monitored?

In Kent we have A2/M2 and A20/M20 'owned' by Highways England and the rest of the plus 5,000 everyday driving miles are under the council and its management of speed limits.
But even saying that part of the M20 is partly variable speed limited, so is often down to speed limits that bare no relation to traffic density or weather conditions. Your driving does not improve when frustrated or angry, because your journey time has been increased for no justifiable reason.

Taking your last sentence reminds me of those ridiculous phone Apps. so loved by insurance companies 'How am I driving' which is supposed to show how safe you are driving. How can they say how 'safe' you are driving if you have no visual visibility of the road!

Just dumbing down people to drive at a speed limit, mindless of prevailing conditions and then saying they are 'good driver' is totally irresponsible. This is the sort of mind-set that I oppose, as I think I said earlier, judge people on HOW they are driving not on their speed.
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

I'm intrigued that you've contested so many TROs Terry. Is this in a professional capacity as a consultant? If so, you would surely know how speed limits really come into existence and that almost all the miles we drive, are on roads with national limits and not local anyway. If you're not, I would respectfully say that you as a driver not liking or agreeing with a speed limit, does not mean it's wrong!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Hugh, I obviously have not driven around the country checking TRO's. But driving around, you do witness speed limits that do not comply with setting guidelines. I have contested enough TRO's to know that the police have often objected to the proposed downgrade, but it still goes ahead. As I said before, downgraded based on emotion rather than facts.
Residents complain to local councillor and say they are living on a 'race-track', or, as soon as some form of accident occurs, speed is immediately blamed, without anybody knowing the facts. So then easy for councillors to placate these moaners and reduce the speed limit, showing piously that 'they are doing something'. Hence constant speed limit downgrades, when often missing the real issue, that some people make of having difficulty of exiting their driveway, crossing the road etc is down to the volume of traffic, not its speed.
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

Bob, it is true that some police forces don't adhere to 110% + 2mph. Some adhere to 110% + 3mph.
David Weston, Corby

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Quite right Terry. We must avoid resorting to urban myths and being influenced by the uninformed emotive rhetoric of pressure groups and their spokespersons. Fortunately that's never been a problem on this forum. Well done by the way, for taking the trouble to go around the country checking on all those local speed limits - quite an undertaking I would have thought with all those reports and surveys to read and check, then the site visit etc. etc.

To 'M' of Worthington - Dodgy logic and conclusions I'm afraid. Tailgaters are speeders, temporarily held up by slower moving, more sensible drivers - same beast. Yes, I have stopped many and asked them.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (6)

The latest news as published in the Mirror is that in Scotland and some other police forces they are no longer adopting the differential of 10% plus 2 mph advocated some years ago and made public by The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). This hopefully will now deter and slow down many drivers who regularly drive to those higher differentials and who now will have to look towards their own speedometer and drive at a slower speed.

All they need to do now is give safer following on distance and we have the recipe for much safer road conditions and even a possible reduction of near 50% in accident stats that TISPOL are looking for throughout Europe by 2020.

I would like to believe that my continued efforts over the last few years of bringing this anomalous speed discrepancy to light in many different quarters has at last had some effect. Somebody somewhere has listened and acted.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

Hugh Jones, what you are saying is just an urban myth promoted by the so called 'road safety' industry. Speeding does not mean recklessness. Those that speed without being reckless, tend to be more alert and respond quicker to ever changing road conditions.
Drivers may drive too fast into a hazard, but that is because they have failed to spot the potential hazard in the first place!

If speed was the problem, then why do not say police drivers continually crash? Could it be something to do with better training?

The DfT issues guidelines (Setting Local Speed Limits) to try and ensure there is some form of national consistency, but councils just ignore these guidelines and prefer to set speed limits on the whims and fancies of local councillors and that is why you can end up with 30mph speed limit on roads with just fields either side of the road. Councillors pleasing local voters takes priority over national interests of having an efficient road network.

So is 'speeding' so dangerous that it now warrants draconian punishments as recently announced, when speed limits are set so emotionally?

We should stop worrying about the speed people drive at, but HOW they are driving. I find your last paragraph very telling, for what you are saying that it is easy to detect 'speeders' but those driving below an expected standard is harder, so let us take the easy option and target speeders; which of course is government policy.
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)

If we look at statistics then we know that about only 5% of over 2 million drivers are reported for actually being over the speed limit. This is according to TISPOL and project EDWARD. We are also told that accidents involving excessive speeds are about 24% of all collisions and therefore we can then assume that if 5% is exceeding the speed limit then some 19% is for driving too fast but at speeds below the speed limit. That does not correlate with your assumptions Hugh that speeders who break the speed limits are the same ones as those that break other traffic laws as some 95% of other drivers did not break the speeding law. On the other hand if one looks at any traffic travelling on our roads today one can easily recognise that some 30% plus of drivers will be tailgating. They are the ones who are most likely to become involved in a collision somewhere, sometime. It doesn't have to be a tailgating accident as such ie running into the rear of another vehicle but a smidsy at a junction or a collision on a roundabout. These drivers continually fail to give safe space because they do not know just what safe space is. They know all about speeding and what speeds they can do without being prosecuted but nothing about safe following on distances at all. You stop and ask one.

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

I don't see a problem with Brake highlighting the 'major problem' of speed Terry, however you try and subdivide it. Your specific concern seems to be those who 'drive too fast for the conditions', however the mindset that causes a driver to travel too fast for the conditions is the same for the one who is also prone to break the speed limit anyway (and no doubt also the one who 'fails to look properly' which you've also highlighted) i.e. the careless and reckless driver doesn't 'choose' one traffic law to violate, nor do they just adhere to one bad practice - it's across the board, which is what the Dutch study is implying - that the regular speeder, because of their mindset, will be accident prone, but how that accident arises may vary.

As the technology exists to detect and action the 'over the limit' speed offences rather than the much harder to action 'too fast for conditions', or even 'failed to look properly', it makes sense to concentrate on the speed limit violator - it's usually the same people!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (8)

'Breaking the speed limit' and 'travelling too fast for conditions' are two entirely different issues! The first is unlikely to be a problem and second will cause a problem, but do not expect Brake to understand that!

Simple way to stop 'speeding' is to scrap all speed limits and hence no 'speeding'. If you want to get drivers to drive at a safe speed for prevailing conditions, then this requires a lot more effort and intelligent thinking. So government go for the easy first option of mindless obedience to speed limits as the panacea for all accidents. Which of course dovetails nicely into its pro cycling, anti-car agenda.

As speed limits only ever go down, then this just generates more 'speeders', but that does not mean dangerous.

DfT figures state that only about 5% of accidents are down to "Exceeding the speed limit", where-as over 40% are in the "Failed to look properly" category. But as Brake trades in emotive rhetoric they just ignore facts, for their own agenda.
Terry Hudson

Agree (14) | Disagree (9)

Dutch study is based on cars in police reported crashes - around 5% of all cars. Dis-proportionally this group of vehicles will have irresponsible drivers, drivers with little regard for road safety rules. So in reviewing the results this has to be kept in mind. And as the number of speeding offences per annum and severity of speeding offences increases there will be even greater levels of irresponsible drivers involved. The end result could be the result of the lack of safety of these irresponsible drivers and nothing to do with road safety for responsible drivers.
John Lambert, Geelong, Australia

Agree (11) | Disagree (1)

The Dutch system tends to be quite strict - between 4km/h(!!) and 20km/h (I think?) over any given limit or so can end up with a non-endorsable fine. Therefore, those who tend to collect speeding tickets in NL tend to be those who spend a lot of their time behind the wheel. Professional drivers, say.
David Weston, Corby

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

Oh dear, here we have yet another example of Brake misrepresenting study data. The news from Brake claims that "Drivers with one speeding violation annually are twice as likely to crash as those with none." To support that they cite a Dutch study. However, the Dutch study explicitly excludes driver behaviour from its analysis of the data. The first sentence of the study abstract starts: "To establish the statistical relationship between offenses and crashes when the unit of analysis is the vehicle instead of the driver,"!

Can we actually trust anything we read from Brake? This just shows how important it is to thoroughly vet anything that comes out of this organisation before giving any credibility to it.
Charles, England

Agree (19) | Disagree (6)

It's two problems: the excessive speed in itself and the speeder i.e. the one who creates the excessive speed in the first place. The Dutch study referred to in the article seems to confirm what many have thought - how the serial speeder will get into more scrapes than the non-speeder.

Referring to the three 'E's: excessive speed in itself can be dealt with by Engineering (physical retarders) but can only limit the negative effects locally, whereas the speeders themselves can be dealt with through Enforcement and penalties and has a more global benefit. As for the third E (Education), unfortunately I think it's the least effective of the three 'E's with regard to speeders.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (8)