Slow Down for Road Safety Week
GEM Road Safety Officer, Neil Worth, asks what makes an everyday, average and law-abiding citizen change when they get behind the wheel? This is a question that has been posed by lots of people recently when considering the issue of speed on Britain’s roads.
When I worked in Community Safety part of our statutory duty was to consult with the local community on their views of crime and disorder in their area and where we should focus our resources to reduce them. What were the top three concerns we heard time and again? Drug dealing, anti-social behaviour, burglary or cyber-crime? Well no actually, it wasn’t any of these! Although they featured in the responses, we could almost guarantee the top three complaints from the public would be:
1. Dog fouling
Why is it then when the Police respond to complaints about speeding, the majority of people they catch live locally to the area?
Ask any Traffic Officer and they will be able to recount tales of catching local councillors, who were vociferous in their demands that the speeding problem be tackled, who found themselves running late for a meeting; or the local mums complaining about how dangerous the roads were for their children yet themselves being stopped for driving in excess of the speed limit. Is it because we live in a world where “Someone has to do something (as long as it doesn’t affect me)” or is it simply that we view speeding differently to other forms of motoring offences?
The faster you drive, the longer it takes to stop. Fact. I’m no physicist but a car travelling at 20mph will stop in around 3 car lengths, while a car traveling at 30mph will take nearly double the distance to stop. Likewise, the higher the impact speed the higher the level of injury.
There is a reason that speed is considered one of the “Fatal Four” in terms of road safety along with drink/drug driving, distraction and not wearing a seatbelt. In 2016, 331 of the 1,792 people that died on the roads were involved in collisions where exceeding the speed limit, or travelling too fast for the conditions, was recorded as a contributing factor*. That’s nearly one in five collisions – a higher number than those that resulted in death from drink driving.
So how do we address the problem?
Well first we ALL need to take responsibility for our actions on the roads. The majority of people don’t speed but we can all influence those who do. We need to be aware of the roads we are travelling on and what the speed limit is – if there are street lights then it’s a good bet that the limit is set at 30 miles per hour unless otherwise posted. But why do 30? Studies by the World Health Organisation and others have determined that if we all reduced our speeds by 5% this could result in a 30% reduction in fatal collisions.
You wouldn’t dream of getting into the car after a few beers or using your mobile phone when you’re driving, so why not adopt the same attitude to speed? If we all drive carefully, to the conditions, reduce our speed to give ourselves a bit of space and time to react, we can ALL get home safely and maybe we may save a life or two on the way.
* Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain Annual Report 2016.