These tragic and often avoidable events always have a significant and life-long impact on the families affected, and on the individuals, who have to live with their injuries. That is simply not good enough, and every one of us must share the responsibility to influence the way in which our roads are respected and used.
In 2021/22, UK police forces issued more than 2.3 million Fixed Penalty Notices for illegal speeding offences. This is the highest number on record and continues a long-term trend of year-on-year increases for more than a decade.
Preventing harm and saving lives is a core mission of policing. It is entirely appropriate, legitimate and necessary to tackle drivers who break the law by engaging in behaviours that cause harm. This means addressing those crimes that cause death and serious injury on our roads – and that includes speeding.
Discussions about speeding, and in particular the way in which the police enforce the law on speeding, often descend into arguments about being ‘just a little bit over the limit’, or the speed camera location, or whether drivers were properly warned in advance of a speed detection operation. We don’t have these sorts of conversations about being ‘just a bit’ over the drink-drive limit or driving a ‘little bit’ dangerously. I know that with alarming regularity staff operating speed camera vans at the roadside are verbally abused and berated by passing motorists. All of this ‘noise’ misses the uncomfortable and inescapable truth that speed kills.
Unlike any other crime, road users are both potential victims and potential offenders every day. Abiding by the laws of the road, which are designed first and foremost to protect life, reduces the chances of being killed or seriously injured in a collision or causing a fatal or serious collision.
I would prefer to see fewer speeding offences being detected because our behaviours and attitudes towards speeding are changing.
We all have busy lives and we all want to get wherever we are going quickly, but I would advocate that we all want to get there safely, and while that might mean a few extra minutes on our journey, that is surely time well spent looking after the safety of ourselves and others as a responsible road user.
Personal responsibility is the starting point for safer roads. The police can continue to issue more and more Fixed Penalty Notices, but I would prefer to see fewer speeding offences being detected in the first place because our behaviours and attitudes towards speeding are changing.
Let’s remember that one person’s irresponsible and criminal actions could mean another person’s death.
Chief Constable Jo Shiner wrote this blog for Road Safety Week. Sign up to join the national conversation about speed.
Chief Constable Jo Shiner
Jo Shiner became the force’s ninth Chief Constable in July 2020 and is the first female Chief Constable in the history of Sussex Police. Throughout her career she has been committed to taking a preventative and proactive approach to policing – always working closely with partners. Her strong belief is that there are very few circumstances where policing alone is the answer.