❝A short saying oft contains much wisdom.❞
Sophocles (496BC – 406BC)

Our growing selection of quotes on speed and road safety, from both the  good guys  and the  bad guys .
External references open in new window/tab.
Selected Quote
“Any time you have police issuing an inordinate number of tickets, it probably means the speed limit is set artificially low.”
Lt. Gary Megge
Michigan State Police Traffic Services Section
Detroit News

Quotes pertaining to Road Safety / Speed
“A new Motor-car Act was coming along as well. The Act of 1903 was out of date. the section limiting speed to 20 miles was to be abolished. There was to be no speed limit, for to put the limit at say 20 miles suggested to some motorists that that was the speed at which they were habitually at liberty to travel. In Birmingham he could say now that the old Act was likely to come to an end, they had never laid a speed trap. When the 1903 Act became law he issued instructions to the police that they were not to prosecute persons under the speed limit section, but to rely entirely on the first section dealing with driving to the common danger.”
Birmingham Post 1922 — An article describing a report made by the Chief Constable of the Birmingham Police Force at a meeting of the Midland Car Club on 1st Dec 1922.

“Measure what is important, don't make important what you can measure.”
Robert McNamara
(US Secretary of State for Defence during the Vietnam War)
He was speaking to his Air Force chiefs after discovering that they were using the number of buildings destroyed by bombs as a critical success factor; but you can see how it applies to the government's attitude to 'speed'.

“to punish a motorist because what he was doing might be a danger in an hour's, or a week's, or a month's time according to circumstances but not at the time it was done, was a monstrous tyranny.”
J J Leeming
'Road Accidents: Prevent or Punish'

“In many cases where parents demand a speed limit ‘to protect our children’ they really mean ‘to save us the trouble of looking after our children’.”
J J Leeming
'Road Accidents: Prevent or Punish'

“We are insane on the subject of road accidents, and as a result of that insanity our whole approach is fundamentally wrong, and we are trying to solve the wrong problem. Our law and propaganda are not really based on the wish to stop accidents, but are solely concerned with revenge on the driver, without respect to whether he is guilty. It is thought that this is all we need do to stop accidents. But it is not, it can only cause more.”
J J Leeming
'Road Accidents: Prevent or Punish'

“Everybody sees speed as the main factor involved in accidents but usually it is drivers' misjudgements.”
Sgt Brian Rogers
Cheshire Police

“Most of the accidents I've attended were caused by bad driving, not speed”
“I am concerned we are using a sledge hammer to crack a nut”
PC Gary Baldwin
Traffic Division
Thames Valley Police
speaking on "Traffic", BBC2
19 August 1999

“The normally careful and competent actions of a reasonable individual should be considered legal.”
'Establishing Speed Limits - A Case of Majority Rule'
Arizona Department of Transportation

“Motorway zero tolerance speed limits, if introduced as promised, are a shameful excuse to raise more revenue”
Professor Garel Rhys
Head of Automotive Economics
Cardiff Business School,
and Parliamentary Adviser on Trade and Industry;
commenting on Tony Blair's anti-car policies.

“A driver suggesting that he might be the best person to decide whether a speed limit is reasonable under prevailing traffic conditions can expect to be treated like a heretic earmarked for incineration by the Spanish Inquisition.”
Adam Sweeting
Electronic Telegraph

“This is nothing at all to do with safety; it's much more sinister. Even Hitler liked Autobahns...”
John Simpson
ABD member
commenting on the proposed Road Traffic Penalty review.

“The criminal justice system has got it all out of kilter. We treat the motorist like a pariah and the burglar like a victim”
Glen Smythe
Metropolitan Police Federation.

“They're a lot less anal than the British when it comes to speed.”
Eddie Irvine
extolling the virtues of the Italian Police
Formula 1 magazine
May 2001

“No car company condones speeding or unsafe driving but my concern is that there is an over-emphasis on speed and perhaps neglect of some of the other equally or more significant issues.”
Geoff Polites
Ford Australia President

“Driving fast is an abhorrence to the politically correct British anti-speed lobby, but these 'pinkos' fortunately did not follow me to Munich. The late Colin Chapman rightfully avowed that fast driving stands for greater concentration and I agree wholeheartedly. Driving at high speeds results in better concentration and awareness and, equally, other motorists who choose not to drive flat out respect those who do and consequently are more disciplined in their use of motorway lanes. Many, many accidents in Britain, unmentioned in the statistics, are from drivers falling asleep, bored at the wheel. German drivers are far superior to us Brits in the art of driving.”
John Watson
Formula 1 magazine
September 2001

“...we have one of the best road safety records in Europe...”
David Jamieson
Transport Minister
Oct 2002

“All psychologists and doctors say people who go faster drive better and are more careful. Only 9% of fatal accidents were caused by speeding. Where it is safe to go faste r, it is the right thing to do.”
Pietro Lunardi
Italian transport minister

“It is a fact that everyone who has a car will speed. I have broken the speed limit and I defy anyone to say that they haven't. The point is that often speed limits are broken without people having accidents. What we have to focus on is where speed is actually causing accidents.”
Steve Mortimore
Assistant Chief Constable
Avon and Somerset Police
Daily Mail 2003-06-05

“I fear that if we prosecute more and more motorists and people have a perception that we are being unreasonable then there will be a backlash. We police by consent and need people to have confidence in the criminal justice system. We rely on people to report offences, to be witnesses and to be jurors in the fight against crime. Anything that undermines that support concerns me.”
Michael Todd
Chief Constable
Greater Manchester Police
Manchester Online 2003-07-12

“Exceeding the speed limit related to just 60 collisions per year out of a total of 1,900 collisions in the Durham area ? that?s about 3%.”
Paul Garvin
Chief Constable
Durham Constabulary
Sunday Times 2003-11-23

“We may see the day when the police are rooted out of their panda cars, put back on the beat and told to concentrate upon crime rather than bullying motorists.”
Sir Patrick Moore OBE CBE FRS FRAS
in his autobiography 80 Not Out. 2003

“Safety on UK roads is at risk because drivers feel targeted, vulnerable and alienated”
John Maxwell, chairman of the IAM
IAM press release [pdf 90k]

“Every one of us can think of a speed limit that appears to be completely barmy, utterly bonkers. And if you think it?s bonkers you are much less likely to comply with it. What we need are speed limits that have credibility in the public mind.”
Richard Brunstrom
Chief Constable
North Wales Police.
The Times 2004-12-12
(Are we sure this is in the right column? Ed.)

“If the 1607 event was a tsunami, then a resident of Cardiff, for instance, is ten times as likely to be killed by a tsunami as by a road accident.”
Michael Disney
Professor of astronomy at Cardiff University
Consultant to NASA and ESA
The Times 2005-01-04

“Safe drivers are getting fed up with being penalised for exceeding a speed limit by a very narrow margin.”
Caroline Chisolm
Daily Telegraph 2005-05-27

“The current variable speed limits on the A140 in Suffolk are unnecessary. They frustrate drivers, and are part of what is seen as a policy to reduce vehicle speeds throughout the county regardless of the need for them to be reduced”
Len Bond
Former Traffic Officer with Suffolk Police
A140 Campaign 2005

“An arbitrary limit allows sloppy policing. Officers don't have to determine if there has been dangerous driving, as they just ticket everyone.”
Paul Taggart
Hawke's Bay Today

“I am amazed that the balance of engineering, enforcement and education has left so many drivers — in every respect law-abiding citizens — feeling victimised. This cannot be good for road safety. We need to get drivers 'on side', wanting to play their part in road safety and not alienated by blanket measures which are needed to control the irresponsible minority but end up affecting us all.”
Nigel Mansell
President of the IAM
July 2006

“British road safety was the best in the world. Now it is institutionally incompetent at the highest level.”
Paul Smith
Safe Speed

“…slowing him down was difficult because you have to maintain concentration…”
Ron Dennis
McLaren-Mercedes F1 Team
Explaining the team's orders to Lewis Hamilton not to push hard and race for the lead against team-mate and race leader Fernando Alonso after the second pit stop in the Monaco Grand Prix

“…In the late 1960s there was an average of 45 police motorcyclists patrolling Central London on both the early and late shifts. At the beginning of the 1990s, that average had dropped to 9 for the whole of London.…”
Roy Buchanan
Retired traffic police officer
Daily Telegraph

“Because traffic safety is often counterintuitive, the biggest hurdle to effective traffic management and a safer environment continues to be interference by well-meaning but misinformed citizen groups and politicians. Education of these parties is the key to allowing the traffic engineer to maximize traffic safety and reduce traffic crashes.”
Michigan State Police
Traffic Services Section, Field Update 32 [pdf]

“Fear is an essential part of doing what we do, because fear defines a limit and if you are good at understanding the physics of what a car can sustain through a corner, for example, then you drive it more quickly than others. To be fearless is no use — you have no limits and so you just go flat out, exceed what the car can do and, therefore, crash. That's why so many of these boy racers get killed, their lack of fear or excess of bravado is out of proportion to the physical limits of their car and their driving ability.”
David Coulthard
It Is What It Is, P187 (Hardback)

“In many cases, the problem is the speed limit, not the motorist.”
“Any time you have police issuing an inordinate number of tickets, it probably means the speed limit is set artificially low.”
“I know if I got a ticket on a road where the speed limit wasn't set properly, I'd fight it.”
Lt. Gary Megge
Michigan State Police Traffic Services Section
Detroit News

Quotes from the bad guys
“speed limits should be made very low and rigidly enforced to take all the glamour out of motoring”
Friends of the Earth

“There are two core questions you need to know the answers to when you're driving: how fast am I going, and what's the speed limit in force around here".
Prof Steve Stradling
Napier University
DTLR road safety adviser.
'You and Yours'
BBC Radio 4
Friday 2001-07-06

“It is against the law and there is no excuse for drifting over the limit any more than there is for drifting a knife into someone.”
Richard Brunstrom
Chief Constable of North Wales Police
speaking on 'Wales Today' BBC TV

“Improving motorcyclists' skills merely means they kill themselves in a more skilled way.”
Robert Gifford
The Times, 2003-06-25

“Getting speed limits right, without a doubt, means making them lower.”
“lower speed limits do not always mean longer journey times”
Mary Williams
Daily Mail

“… people need to be encouraged out of their cars …”
Mary Williams
Brake (supposedly a ‘road safety charity’)

“It is not that I want traffic to move slowly, but I do want it to be safe and you can't have both.”
Jenny Jones
Green Party, London Assembly Member
London Evening Standard