Direct Line Survey Misses The Point
Road safety group, the Association of British Drivers, today argued that a recent Direct Line survey is in danger of being overly simplistic. The survey argued that 'speeding is one of the biggest dangers on out nation's roads with one in three road deaths being attributed to speed'. The survey went on to criticise drivers for lack of speed limit knowledge.
Recent research from the ABD (see Notes for Editors below) showed that inattention, tailgating and poor observation are far bigger problems than exceeding a posted limit. In fact, official accident statistics do not even differentiate between exceeding a speed limit and driving too fast for the conditions — two completely different things.
ABD Road Safety Spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie said
“Of course, setting a safe speed for the conditions is vital, but the relationship between speed limits and safe speeds is becoming ever more remote. It is now perfectly possible to travel legally — and safely — at 60mph on one day and be breaking a new 30mph limit on the same road the next. Is it any wonder drivers are confused?”
The ABD is concerned that many new limits are the road safety equivalent of 'crying wolf'. Chairman Brian Gregory commented
“A driver can be well within a speed limit and yet be lethal because of lack of skill, lack of attention, poor road conditions or simply by being too close to the car in front to stop. It is far too simplistic to say that sticking to a speed limit makes him safe.”
Notes for editors
The major causes of M4 crashes, 1999-2004 were:
'Excess speed' is speed which is too fast for the conditions as well as speed in excess of the posted limit. As such, it is impossible to find out how many crashes were caused by drivers exceeding the limit and how many by simply too fast for the conditions.
- Inattention - a factor in 28% of crashes
- Failure to judge others' path or speed (eg poor lane changing) - a factor in 28% of crashes
- Lack of judgement of own path - a factor in 17% of crashes
- Fatigue - a factor in 14% of crashes
- Careless, thoughtless or reckless behaviour - a factor in 14% of crashes
- Excess speed - a factor in 14% of crashes
Significantly, the causes of crashes are given rankings by accident investigators. They class causes as definite, probable and possible. 'Excess speed' was ranked as a 'definite' cause in just one fatal crash - less than 1% of all accidents.
* Data from Wiltshire Constabulary, M4 crashes 1999-2004
Further Notes for Editors