London, 3 Sep 2004.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Foundation stone of "Speed Kills" Abandoned by DfT
ABD calls for safety policy rethink
The Department for Transport (DfT) has recently abandoned one of the key foundations of the "Kill Your Speed" policy - the assertion that speeding causes a third of accidents. The ABD believes that this should herald a return to a much more positive and effective road safety policy, which will save many lives.
"Getting rid of the notorious one third fallacy is the best thing that's happened to road safety in years," said ABD Road Safety spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie. "All the research on the causes of crashes shows that the one third fallacy blames speeding for ten times as many accidents as it actually causes. This fundamental error has led to safe behaviour being criminalised whilst dangerous driving and badly designed roads are allowed to persist."
In a recent letter to a member of the public, a DfT official produced the following carefully worded, face saving climbdown:
"The Department has, in the past suggested that around one third of accidents are speed related. This is not a figure it continues to use. But not because the Department no longer believes in its accuracy. Just as speed is a complex issue, so is the recording of contributory factors."
The words may be carefully chosen but the message is clear - the evidence from real accidents don't support the "one third" fallacy, and the DfT have been forced to abandon it.
The whole foundation of the speed reduction policies of the last dozen years has been based on the statement that speeding causes a third of road deaths.
Now, the DfT has finally admitted that it can't back it up from real evidence - which suggests that 3% is nearer the mark than 33%.
This means that most of the speed limit reductions, traffic calming and speed camera enforcement introduced to target this one third of accidents have been misguided.
When the authorities should have been spending 5% of their effort targeting a small number of reckless drivers travelling excessively fast in dangerous circumstances, they have instead been led by the one third fallacy to criminalise normal progress and to prosecute safe and reasonable behaviour.
They have also neglected the causes of 95% of accidents, related to poor road design, inattention and misjudgement. Many of these causes have actually been made worse by the obsession with speed, as drivers have become distracted from the business of driving and cynical about all road safety campaigns.
"Now the one third fallacy is fading from sight, we need to get back to measures which help drivers to control their speed properly in response to the conditions rather than penalise them for driving safely," said ABD Chairman Brian Gregory.


Notes for Editors