Speeding should never be socially acceptable

Speeding should never be socially acceptable

2014 saw a 4% rise in the number of deaths on UK roads. Yet despite those figures - speeding on all roads seems to be the norm for many drivers. Here, Brake's Greg Marah looks at the perception of speeding amongst the media and general public, particularly from those who are caught lamenting what is perceived to be a 'tax' on motorists.

We now live in a country where road deaths and serious injuries are on the rise, yet despite the facts and figures which show that poor driving habits such as speeding are a cause of a large proportion of crashes on roads, these poor driving habits are still seen as being socially acceptable.

You only have to look at a recent campaign by The Sun calling on the authorities to 'come clean' on speed cameras. Where they may have a point that local authorities have been flouting guidelines which have been set by the Department for Transport, is it right for a national newspaper to be campaigning against the prevention of speeding?

Furthermore, The Sun's campaign on cameras calls on them to be clearly visible and only placed at 'accident hotspots', yet how would speeding drivers who are clearly ignoring the law be caught? How would we prevent further deaths and crashes on the roads if as a nation we only have speed cameras once a specific number of people have been injured or died?

Speed cameras are, in The Sun's view, just a deterrent. This isn't an inherently bad thing, but drivers who are speeding deserve to be caught and deserve the punishment that they will face. If it means being financially punished and having to go on a speed awareness course to be educated in the dangers of excess speed, then that can only be a good thing.

Yet those who are caught are described as cash cows for local authorities. Rather than looking at the data of how many drivers disregard the speed limits which are in place, the media tends to look at the money generated in fines. In the case of The Sun, they describe being caught speeding as a 'tax' on motorists.

The irony is that the national newspaper in question here is quite often the first to pop into our news inbox asking for quotes on the latest famous drink-driver or celebrity who thinks it's appropriate to film themselves driving on Snapchat.

Perhaps national media outlets like The Sun, and the general public as a whole, should share the same moral code when it comes to speeding as they do when it comes to drink-driving. Breaking the speed limit in the UK is a factor in nearly 220 road deaths a year, a similar number to those who are killed on the road due to drink-driving.

It is also worth noting the benefit of sticking to speed limits and potentially even reducing them. A reduction in average speeds of 1mph on a section of road reduces the number of crashes by 5%. On urban roads specifically, a 1mph reduction in average speeds reduces the rates of collisions by 6%[1].

With damning statistics like that, you have to question why people still see speeding as being an acceptable part of life. However, speeding like drink-driving is inherently selfish and all it does is put all road users at more risk. To those who chose to complain about it, if you don't like getting caught – don't speed in the first place.

[1] http://www.trl.co.uk/umbraco/custom/report_files/trl421.pdf

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Comments 3

Guest - eric roberts on Tuesday, 20 October 2015 16:05

Hi as an old guy, i have noticed the number of young drivers who overtake me when i am sticking to the speed limit. I do though agree with the SUN newspaper. What is happening to the speed cameras do they work? The ones i cant get my head round are the ones on the new motorway Gantry, in our own West Yorkshire on the M62 ? We can all see them but do they work, if so why do cars go at well over the speed limit, can anyone out there tell us? thanks eric roberts http://www.pellonautocentre.com/yorkshire-car-drivers/

Hi as an old guy, i have noticed the number of young drivers who overtake me when i am sticking to the speed limit. I do though agree with the SUN newspaper. What is happening to the speed cameras do they work? The ones i cant get my head round are the ones on the new motorway Gantry, in our own West Yorkshire on the M62 ? We can all see them but do they work, if so why do cars go at well over the speed limit, can anyone out there tell us? thanks eric roberts http://www.pellonautocentre.com/yorkshire-car-drivers/
Guest - Michael Beaver on Wednesday, 21 October 2015 09:02

The reason people think it is OK to speed is because they own a car which does nothing to discourage it. The car is marketed on it's performance. It's harder to stick to the speed limit than to exceed it with throttle response of a modern car. Irresponsible TV programs like Top Gear only ever look at how exciting it is to speed around in a car without seeming to care about anyone outside it. All this just gives drivers the impression that speed limits are a petty unnecessary nanny state rule which is there to inconvenience and fine them.
The sense of danger of driving fast is not there within the car. The driver never feels the fear. The minority of people outside of the cars (pedestrians, cyclists, kids paying outside...) can feel the danger of someone tearing passed them. However, most motorists these days do not spend a significant amount of time walking or cycling in order to appreciate the risk they are placing on others with their car.
Motorists are not discouraged from speeding by their cars and they don't appreciate the risk they are imposing on other people. This will never change. What can change are the cars. Why is it allowed for a motor manufacturer to sell a car which can be used illegally, in a dangerous way, on the road by where people live, walk and cycle. Why should people be able to choose how fast they can go? Why give them the option of using a product illegally and dangerously? All cars engines are computer controlled it is trivial to link the sat nav, ECU and speed limit data together to stop a car from speeding. There is no argument against it. There is a reluctance because people like speeding. They think they have a right to choose. But why should they? You cannot smoke and give other people cancer in public places so why allow another product we can buy to injure and kill the public when we could easily stop it?
Road deaths should really be the responsibility of car manufacturers. If you sell a product that kills people you'll go to jail. Unless you sell cars. And guns. You can't say 'buy our car look how fast it goes' and then when someone kills somebody with it say 'ah well you shouldn't be speeding should you'.
Of course the other reason nobody cares is because news stories are all about how it's someone else ruining things for us. Immigrants, terrorists etc... No putting this into perspective on the news. This year 30000 were killed by terrorists. Terrible eh but you motorists managed to wipe out 1.3million just to give you some context...
That's why people speed and don't care.

The reason people think it is OK to speed is because they own a car which does nothing to discourage it. The car is marketed on it's performance. It's harder to stick to the speed limit than to exceed it with throttle response of a modern car. Irresponsible TV programs like Top Gear only ever look at how exciting it is to speed around in a car without seeming to care about anyone outside it. All this just gives drivers the impression that speed limits are a petty unnecessary nanny state rule which is there to inconvenience and fine them. The sense of danger of driving fast is not there within the car. The driver never feels the fear. The minority of people outside of the cars (pedestrians, cyclists, kids paying outside...) can feel the danger of someone tearing passed them. However, most motorists these days do not spend a significant amount of time walking or cycling in order to appreciate the risk they are placing on others with their car. Motorists are not discouraged from speeding by their cars and they don't appreciate the risk they are imposing on other people. This will never change. What can change are the cars. Why is it allowed for a motor manufacturer to sell a car which can be used illegally, in a dangerous way, on the road by where people live, walk and cycle. Why should people be able to choose how fast they can go? Why give them the option of using a product illegally and dangerously? All cars engines are computer controlled it is trivial to link the sat nav, ECU and speed limit data together to stop a car from speeding. There is no argument against it. There is a reluctance because people like speeding. They think they have a right to choose. But why should they? You cannot smoke and give other people cancer in public places so why allow another product we can buy to injure and kill the public when we could easily stop it? Road deaths should really be the responsibility of car manufacturers. If you sell a product that kills people you'll go to jail. Unless you sell cars. And guns. You can't say 'buy our car look how fast it goes' and then when someone kills somebody with it say 'ah well you shouldn't be speeding should you'. Of course the other reason nobody cares is because news stories are all about how it's someone else ruining things for us. Immigrants, terrorists etc... No putting this into perspective on the news. This year 30000 were killed by terrorists. Terrible eh but you motorists managed to wipe out 1.3million just to give you some context... That's why people speed and don't care.
Guest - Alice Bailey on Thursday, 22 October 2015 15:03

Really interesting comments Michael! You'd make a great guest blogger!

Really interesting comments Michael! You'd make a great guest blogger!
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