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Road Safety Week 2023: Why Is It Still OK To Speed?

Carl Waring

Carl Waring

|  21st November 2023  |

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Road Safety Week is an annual road safety awareness event held during the third week of November. The week provides an opportunity to promote awareness of the need for us all to consider how we, as road users, can play our part in making the UK’s roads safer.

The organiser of Road Safety Week is the charity Brake, formed to support the victims of road traffic accidents and the bereaved in the case of fatal accidents. It promotes road safety awareness through campaigns and international conferences. The charity invites participation in its awareness campaigns from schools, communities, the emergency services, and companies, particularly those involved in the transport sector.

What is the theme of Road Safety Week 2023?

This year, ‘Road Safety Week focuses on speed, particularly the question, “Why do we think it’s OK to speed?”

Those familiar with this road safety campaign will know this is not the first time ‘speed’ has been the main focal point for the annual road safety event. There are several reasons for this:

According to a fact sheet produced by the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents  (RoSPA):

  • Excess speed contributes to about 12% of all reported collisions involving injury, 13% in serious injury cases, and 24% in fatal accident collisions.
  • If, on average, drivers reduced their speed by just 1%, it is estimated the accident rate would fall by 5%
  • When drivers travel 10-15% more than the average speed of the other vehicles around them, their chances of being involved in an accident significantly increase.
  • A pedestrian hit by a car travelling at between 30 and 40mph is up to 5.5 times more likely to be killed than if the vehicle was travelling at no more than 30mph.
  • 54% of car drivers on 30mph roads in urban areas exceed the speed limit; 20% exceed the speed limit by 5mph or more.

How common is speed as a factor in road traffic accidents?

Historically, official statistics on the cause of road traffic accidents have only included information from the reports of police officers who attend the scene of the accident. The information that could be gleaned from post-accident investigations has not been considered.

However, as a result of a new system of accident reporting devised by the National Police Chief’s Council, in the future, post-accident investigations, including the use of forensic evidence to determine the speed of vehicles involved in accidents, will be considered.

The Metropolitan Police in London have been using this new reporting system to gather information about the causes of road accidents in London for the past few years. As a result, the road traffic accident statistics for London in 2020 were revised, with quite startling results. The percentage of accidents in which speed was considered a contributory factor was upwardly revised from 19.1% to 46.8%.

More recently, a report by Transport for London revealed speed was a factor in 48% of all road traffic accidents involving a fatality in 2022.

So, is the problem of speeding getting worse in the UK?

The Independent newspaper recently reported that convictions for speeding had hit an eight-year high in England and Wales in 2022, with 236,840 motorists successfully prosecuted for exceeding speed limits. Unwelcome news, given that speeding, is one of the leading causes of road traffic accidents!

How do we get drivers to reduce their speed?

The best chance of getting people to drive less fast ought to be through a combination of initiatives, including

  • enforcement,
  • training,
  • education,
  • 20 mph speed limits
  • by fixing speed limiters to new cars,
  • publicity

However, it seems to take an eternity for longer-term initiatives to roll out, and even then, there can be a mixed response, as has been the case since the Welsh Government introduced a default speed limit of 20 mph on what were formerly 30mph roads.

Why is Road Safety Week so important?

Long-term initiatives often seem to be never-ending works in progress or are unpopular when they do appear, hence why awareness events like Road Safety Week are so important. They are one week put aside to focus on a specific issue, bolstering a good cause, inviting people to get engaged and demonstrate their support – in this case, with the attainable aim of getting drivers to slow down and be more mindful of their driving speed.

Mooneerams Solicitors is an award-winning niche personal injury firm of solicitors and acts on behalf of the injured victims of road traffic accidents and bereaved family members following fatal accidents.

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