Response to the Government
consultation on speed policy

October 1999

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The ABD welcomes the opportunity to respond to the Government's consultation paper on speed.

The ABD was founded in 1992 to campaign for improvement in road safety, driver training and education and balance in transport policy. With a growing membership, the ABD is now the leading independent drivers' group in the UK.

The ABD is a wholly voluntary organisation, drawing its Directors, Committee Members and Members from a wide variety of industries and occupations. The ABD receives no corporate sponsorship and is funded entirely from the subscriptions of its members.


Over the last ten years transport, and road transport in particular, has moved ever further up the political agenda, and one of the most central transport issues has become speed. Speed and speed management are now key areas both in terms of their implications for the safety of all road users — not just car drivers — and for the development of a truly integrated approach to transport in the UK.

In the last few years drivers have seen many new, lower speed limits introduced, including blanket 30mph limits in some counties and proposals for them in others, a variety of engineering measures designed to reduce speeds and a far greater emphasis on speed enforcement by the police.

The debate on speed has been moved into a new phase by the Helen Brinton MP in her private members bill on "Country Roads and Villages" in which she proposes the creation of "quiet lanes" with speed limits as low as 20mph and country road limits of 40mph enforced with a series of traffic calming measures.

Speed has emerged on to the environmental stage with some local authorities talking of reducing and enforcing lower speeds so as to encourage modal shift away from the car.

At the same time, the need for rapid, flexible individual mobility has never been greater as workers travel further afield in search of jobs.

The need for speed management

That speed needs to be managed is not the issue at stake — either in this document or on the roads outside. What is at issue is the importance of speed within the overall framework of road safety policy and the way in which it needs to be managed — and by whom — so as to have the greatest effect on road safety.
There is a clear need to examine the most effective, long term strategies for improving safety on our roads and so to implement a series of "quick fixes" should be unthinkable. All aspects of safe driving need to be addressed, not speed in isolation. There needs to be a clear focus on addressing the causes of road accidents, of poor driving, and not simply remedial attempts to tackle only the symptoms of a deeper underlying problem.


This document covers:

Definition of terms

"Speeding", in the context of this document, takes its most obvious definition: exceeding a posted speed limit. Of course, speed limits can change and are changing, and so it is perfectly possible that a driver travelling legally — and safely — at 60mph on one day can be breaking a new 30mph limit the next. Of course, although it is illegal to exceed a posted limit many thousands of drivers do so by greater or lesser degrees every day on the UK's roads. Until the recent Police initiative Operation Pride there has always been a tacit acceptance that drivers will not always adhere exactly to the speed limits — the issue at stake has been by how much they've exceeded them and the context in which they have been exceeded.

"Excessive speed" or "inappropriate speed" as far as the scope of this document is concerned — mean travelling at a speed which is unsafe for the conditions. This speed can be, and often is, lower than the posted limit — even when that limit is already set relatively low. It will be immediately clear that this definition is different from and infinitely more elastic than that of "speeding" above — however, its effects are anything but inexact — travelling at excessive speed is potentially lethal, whether that speed is 9mph too fast or 90mph too fast.

What is a "safe speed"?

A "safe speed" — one at which a driver has time to accurately observe, anticipate and react to hazards (hazards being anything that will necessitate him or her having to take some sort of action) — varies not just from road to road, but from car to car, metre to metre, time of day, traffic density and most certainly from driver to driver. There can be little doubt that whilst one driver may be perfectly competent at 70 or 80mph+ — and in the case of trained Police drivers at speeds considerably higher than this — another can be a liability at 30mph — a "safe speed" has no common or fixed value, and so to advocate exact adherence to speed limits or lower limits is unhelpful at best.

Only experience, education and training shows drivers the speeds are safe for the conditions. The motto of the Police driving school at Hendon has always been "Experience Teaches". It is considerably more than a sadness, then, that the length and funding for Police driving courses has been cut over the last few years with serious effects on accident rates and minimal investment in civilian driver training.

The concept of speed limits

Let's return to speed limits and briefly look at them conceptually. First of all, posted speed limits are certainly legal absolutes but not absolutes in either a scientific or philosophical sense — the sense, for example, that water always boils at 100 degrees or that 1 + 1 always equals 2. Drivers can and do exceed a limit regularly with absolutely no ill effects, either to themselves or to road safety. In fact, when questioned in a recent survey, only 9% of magistrates said they would observe a 30mph speed limit in light traffic in daytime.

To focus on speed limits to the exclusion of individual drivers' "safe speeds" may be legally correct, but is likely to have little impact on accident or fatality figures as in some cases the safe speed may be far lower than the posted limit, in others, somewhat higher. It also means that enforcement targeted at exact adherence to a limit is unlikely to result in compliance beyond the period of enforcement.

Drivers should not drive at a safe speed because they are scared of being prosecuted or they are scared of breaking the law, but because they recognise that it is safer to do so — but to achieve this the limits must be in the drivers' perception, reasonable, consistent and realistic — and have clear safety benefits. To introduce speed limits for reasons of encouraging modal shift could be argued to be extremely dangerous as consistency and the move away from safety issues has the potential to be lost and safety-based limits brought into disrepute.

Driving a car is not an exact science — we cannot say that driving at or below 30mph will always be safe any more than we can state that exceeding that limit will always be unsafe. If this was the case, there would not be a driver left alive on the roads.

Take a classic example, a rural road running past a school, perhaps with a limit of 60mph. When children are leaving the school it could be an act of almost criminal stupidity to drive at 60mph past the gates. By the same token, a driver could potentially drive safely — if illegally — past the same school gates on Sunday morning at 70mph or higher.

The complexity of the driving process

Driving safely does not consist of adhering to a set of hard and fast rules — it is too complex a process for that. The series of processes that underlie driving are so complex and change so quickly in the course of a drive that it is practically impossible to model them and crystallise them as "rules" — the driver must constantly evaluate and re-evaluate all around if he or she is to be safe — and setting the correct speed for the conditions is just one element in this wider process.

Fig 1. Basic driver Interaction Model

There are a complex series of internal processes that go to make up the action of driving (Figs 1 and 1a). These include basic psychomotor skills, perceptual motor skills and environmental perceptual skills. They also include the feedback a driver gets from the car — cognitive skills and a whole range of information-processing skills that enable the driver to interpret and react to the world outside the cockpit.

Fig 1a — Basic driver behaviour model

Search è
Observation è
Identification è
Decision è
Execution è
é ê
é ê
Information gathering ó Information processing ó Control phase ó Information processing

As drivers go on through their driving careers they develop and hone these skills. When they are learning, getting into second gear doing 20mph may terrifyingly fast and be potentially dangerous as the driver perceives that a great deal is happening at the same time. But drivers learn over time the perceptual, observational and motor skills they need to pilot a car safely and well. No driver deliberately sets out to drive unsafely and have accidents.

The process of driving can be split into two broad phases — the INFORMATION phase and the CONTROL phase. In the first phase, information is gathered, given to other road users in the form of signals and interpreted. The control phase takes into account the information given, constantly modified, to control the movement of the car. Each of these phases cycles back and forwards, with new external elements constantly coming into play and being evaluated and re-evaluated.

No one factor from this model can be held up as the critical factor — each interacts with the others to ensure safe, progressive and effective driving. Speed is just one factor in the overall framework of safe driving. To concentrate solely on speed and ignore or downplay the significance of the other elements of the model is to seriously skew the structure that makes for safe driving.

The external factors used to modify driver behaviour

The Three Es

For many years road safety has focused on the "Three Es" of education, enforcement and engineering. These are all external influences which attempt to modify and control driver behaviour. Since road accident statistics began to be kept in 1965, the use of these three influences has led, along with better brakes, better roads, seatbelts, ABS braking systems and airbags to a sharp decline in fatalities and accidents on the UK's roads. Since 1992, however, this curve has begun to flatten and, at a local level, is, in some cases, beginning to reverse. Road traffic volumes have increased by 36% from 1988 to 1998, so it seems unlikely that this on its own has led to the flattening of the curve (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Road Deaths 1965-1997

Source: Road Accidents Great Britain

The three Es remain at the heart of road safety, but their focus has narrowed to the point where speed reduction is almost their sole aim.


Taking enforcement first, it can be seen that from 1986 to 1996 the number of prosecutions for dangerous, reckless and drunken driving offences has fallen by 20% whereas the number for speeding has increased by almost 100%. The number of speeding drivers has certainly not grown by 100%, but what is seen here is a clear shift in the emphasis of enforcement. The Gatso camera has also helped in increasing the number of speed-related prosecutions. The proportion of drivers caught on camera has increased from 6% of prosecutions in 1993 by nearly six times to 34% in 1996. (Fig 3).

Fig 3. The rise of automated speeding convictions

Source: Advance Driving Winter 1998

From the last resort, used to alter the behaviour of dangerous drivers, enforcement has now become the front line weapon in road safety. This has led to a climate where drivers increasingly regard speed enforcement as unreasonable.

Rather than educating and training drivers to drive better, speed enforcement simply concentrates on making them drive slower. The ABD believes that rather than ameliorating the effects of an accident by reducing road speeds, driver training and education should be used to ensure the accident is prevented from happening.

If hardline speed enforcement is to be advocated, then is corresponding "zero tolerance" of other traffic offences to be introduced? If there is a "zero tolerance" approach to speeding, then consistency demands that the same policy is applied, unswervingly, to ALL criminal offences. This could be taken to its logical conclusion with the Police waiting outside tyre depots prosecuting drivers driving in to have their illegal tyres changed. To demand a "zero tolerance" policy just for speed is inconsistent at best, and likely to be seen as such by the public.


Engineering measures focus increasingly on speed and speed reduction with the use of traffic calming and lower limits becoming widespread. However, the effectiveness of broader engineering measures is seriously compromised through lack of funding. The Casualty Report and Road Safety Plan for Oxfordshire states "Due to government imposed cuts in budgets we are now finding it increasingly difficult to maintain roads and pavements to an acceptable standard with serious implications for safety". With 25% of the motorway and trunk road network requiring major repair in the next 4 years this lack of funding has serious economic implications for the UK's business competitiveness as well as for road safety.

In some cases engineering measures are psychological in effect, red asphalt surfaces, the village gates we have just heard about. Others are physically designed to reduce speed — cushions, humps, carriageway restrictions. Many counties are now planning to introduce 30mph speed limits anywhere there are 20 or more buildings which could give rise to traffic movements — even where there is no evidence of accidents or fatalities. In contrast, fewer safe new roads are being built after the current government shelved plans for bypasses and relief road schemes across the country. Engineering too has become focused on speed reduction.


In the same way the third E — Education — has increasingly narrowed its focus to concentrate on speed. The national £36 million "Speed Kills" campaign has seen television and radio advertisements, roadside posters and leaflets distributed to schools and workplaces talking of the dangers of speed.

Selecting the most appropriate safe speed for road conditions is certainly a key factor in driving well and safely, but it is far from the only factor. The Association of British Drivers believes that the focus on speed and many speed reduction engineering, enforcement and education measures underestimates the need for a broader emphasis on the other factors that make for safe driving.

Is tackling speed the best way to improve road safety?

We believe that the increasingly hardline emphasis on lower speeds is not the most appropriate or effective way to reduce accident rates in the longer term and over the whole road network. The evidence for concentrating almost solely on speed as the key factor in improving road safety is, we believe, somewhat less concrete than is sometimes supposed.

Causal links between speed and accidents

As recently as 1996, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety ~ (PACTS) of which the ABD is a member, stated that "a detailed study including the part played by speed in accidents has not been carried out for a number of years". It goes on to say that "There is not the directly provable and unarguable link between speed and physical impairment which exists between drinking and driving".

It does not seem to be the case that there are reliable, hard and fast statistics to show that speed causes accidents. Whilst speed may make the consequences of an accident more serious, it will, in itself, not cause the accident to happen.

It has already been shown that the "fatality curve" of accidents from 1965 to 1997 is flattening out from around 1992 onwards despite the increasing emphasis and spend in road safety on speed from this point.

The case of Suffolk

Taking the example of the 450 new 30mph limits introduced across Suffolk in 1996, no clear improvement across the county can be detected after the introduction of the new limits. In fact, there was an increase in fatalities of 23 after the new limits were introduced.

Local residents, some of whom originally campaigned for lower speeds have not been enamoured of the new limits either. Shortly after the limits were imposed, villagers in the village of Sicklesmere sent a petition to Suffolk County Council's speed management panel. This petition showed 128 signatures against the 30 limit in Sicklesmere and only 8 in its favour. It is not always the case that the silence of the majority of the community before the imposition of a new limit will be followed by silence after it.

The County coroner in Suffolk, Mr Bill Walrond is on record as having blamed the new limits for at least two deaths on the A134. At the very least, this example shows that the new limits have had little positive effect on accident rates.

This view was reinforced by the DETR in a recent letter to the ABD in which a member of the Road Safety Team stated "We are aware of Suffolk's policy of introducing what is in effect a blanket 30mph speed limit in their villages. Whilst their commitment to improving road safety is laudable, in the absence of any evidence of its effectiveness we would not suggest this approach to other highway authorities. We believe that compliance is much more likely if each case is considered on its merits with limits set accordingly." Despite this, many counties now plan to introduce arbitrary 30mph limits.

If speed did, indeed, kill, it would seem reasonable that these new limits would have led to a statistically significant decrease in fatalities in Suffolk as well as on the road network as a whole. In fact, the opposite is often the case.

Much of the impetus for reducing speed limits and managing speed externally comes from the TRL report "Speed, speed limits and accidents' which carries a statistic which states "speed is a contributory factor in between 23 and 26% of accidents". In the USA, two researchers from the University of California, Dr Charles Lave and Patrick Elias, have studied the effects of speed across the roads systems of a number of US states. They found that when higher freeway speeds were introduced, considerably lower accident and fatality rates were recorded.

Here in the UK, Cambridgeshire County Council and the AA Foundation for Road Safety Research studied over 7,600 accidents, and concluded that excessive speed (including speed that was excessive for the conditions but still within the speed limit) was ONE of the causes in only 5.4% of accidents.

There is a considerable body of research suggesting that the causal link between speed and accidents is unreliable at best. This research includes papers by Corbett and Simon (1992), Furnham and Snaipe (1993), Matthews et al (1991), Buckinghamshire County Council (1992), the DETR (1992), Utzelman (1976) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (1991).

Much of the difficulty in ascertaining accurate accident statistics for correlation with speed has been that there has been no common method of data collection since 1959. Even so, half the police forces in England and Wales were still collecting causation data from the scene of accidents — although systems of doing so and evaluation criteria had diverged significantly. It was thus practically impossible to compare like areas with like. An example of this might be the two forces, one which attributed 19% of accidents to excess speed and another which talked in terms of a 5% attribution (TRL 323, 1999). If speed was a universal cause of accidents, this seems an unlikely set of figures at which to arrive.

The recent TRL report "A new system for recording contributory factors in road accidents" (TRL 323) sets out, using 15 "precipitating" (the "what") and 54 "causation" factors (the "why") the causes of road accidents. It goes further and attributes confidence measures to each of the causation factors — Definite, Probable and Possible in order to reflect the necessarily subjective nature of accident causation data. The report cites excessive speed — note excessive speed — as one of the top 5 factors, but only attributes 7.3% of overall factors to it and 6% of definite factors — this is a long way indeed from the "Speeds, Speed Limits and Accidents" figures, yet is borne out by the Cambridge report and also from Lave and Elias' research from the USA.

The evidence from Suffolk, Cambridge, the USA and from the 8 Police authorities surveyed in TRL 323 all point away from the prominence of speed as a major cause or contributory factor towards, accidents. However, let us assume for a moment that the 1994 TRL report "Speed, Speed Limits and Accidents" is correct and that speed is a contributory factor to between 23 and 26% of all accidents. It may even be the largest overall isolatable cause, but focusing overall road safety strategy on speed fails to tackle the causes of the remaining 64-67% of accidents.

These examples, we would argue, clearly show that there is a high degree of ambiguity in the research corpus and that it is unreasonable to state that speed kills and that lower, blanket speed limits are the answer to improving road safety. The wrong speed at the wrong time is potentially lethal, but the disbenefits of hardline enforcement of lower limits, we believe, exceeds the benefits.

Focusing the 3 Es on new, lower limits sends the message to drivers that all they have to do to be safe is adhere to the speed limit.

Speed limits and safety

A particularly worrying factor is the broader application of lower limits in many counties across the UK — not just in villages but also on trunk roads, dual carriageways and A roads. It could be argued that where there is no or little history of accidents and the 85th percentile speed is considerably above that set as a limit there will be widespread disregard for the limits. This in turn may have an extremely serious effect — widespread disregard for speed limits as a whole, including those that are set within government guidelines. Artificially low limits — especially when coupled with traffic calming — will also have the effect of increasing drivers' levels of frustration, perhaps giving rise to situations where they will take risks they would have otherwise avoided. High levels of aggression are also likely.

Setting lower limits may mitigate the effects of accidents, but may not stop them and may even possibly increase them. As drivers are forced to drive more and more slowly they begin to lose concentration, attention wanders.

Worse than this, over the longer term, drivers' car control skills, the psychomotor skills outlined earlier, begin to deteriorate and they are driving closer and closer to the limits of their ability to handle a car safely. New drivers have less scope to develop the skills they will need to drive safely as limits fall.

As road safety enforcement becomes focused on speed and automated with the advent of new and more sophisticated Gatsos, drivers have less opportunity to be stopped by the Police and learn WHY their behaviour was dangerous. The only education they receive is in the form of brown envelope, a £40 fine and 3 points on their licence. Explaining to a driver who has driven at a dangerous speed at the roadside why his speed was too high for the conditions is hardly an ideal classroom situation, but it is infinitely better than the anonymous and merely penal Gatso fine. Acquiring points merely becomes an occupational hazard — there is no change of behaviour for the future — drivers will continue to drive at inappropriate speeds.

The role of education

We would also advocate far greater emphasis on the first E of the three, Education. Some moves have already been made towards this, including Oxfordshire's "Think Ahead" hazard awareness training package — this moves driver education on from the simplistic "speed kills". However, this needs to be taken much further — and, of course, funded. It is not the case that the effects of driver training take a far longer time period to come into action than physical restraint measures, fleet trainers such as Drive and Survive have shown that improvements are profound and rapid — and last far beyond the confines of the traffic-calmed street or the Gatso camera.

RoSPA trained the fleet of NEWS Transport in 1990. The fleet manager, David Footit, set a target of reducing accidents by 50%. In fact, the fleet saw accidents reduce by 70%, a 10% reduction in fuel use and a return on investment of 3:1 within a year of commencing training.

At the other end of the spectrum, from the very first Learner drivers need to be taught more than the basic motor skills necessary for manoeuvring a car. Whilst experience is vital in developing skills, training in observation, anticipation, interpretation of road conditions and the actions of other road users and how best to react, all have an important part to play. Setting the correct speed for the conditions is a result of developing each of these skill areas — not an end in itself.

Defensive driving tuition teaches that it is not only culpable accidents that can be avoided, but most of those apparently the fault of the other party as well. This is true of most road user groups — drivers and pedestrians in particular, cyclists, horseriders and passengers progressively less so. There is thus a situation where most potential accidents that can befall a road user can be avoided by that individual.

People must be told that accidents can happen to them, and that should they be involved, it is overwhelmingly likely that they could have avoided it even if the other party was at fault in some way. Rather than blaming the other party, all road users should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own road safety and that of dependent children, as well as for allowing for the mistakes of others.

Only then is a positive, thinking attitude to road safety encouraged. This will put road users in a frame of mind where they can accept sound road safety advice and, by thinking about their behaviour in the right way, be able to learn from both their own mistakes and those of others.

Driving simulators can be extremely useful in developing basic skills before students drive on the road, and could even form a "compulsory basic training" in the same way that motorcyclists now undertake similar basic training. Such training should also include training in observation and interpretation as well as hazard anticipation and management. The positive effects of motorcycle training can clearly be seen in Fig 4, below.

Fig 4. Training and education in action



Fatalities &
serious injuries

Source: Abstract of National Statistics 1998

The Government should examine the introduction of incentives for drivers to train — reduced insurance premia, reduced car tax, perhaps Government or vehicle manufacturers paying a proportion of the cost of training.

But does training and education work? The ABD believes that is the most effective form of promoting safety on our roads because it internalises the concept of safe speeds, it does not merely enforce them from outside. Taking the example of motorcycle training mentioned earlier, looking at the fatality rates from the introduction of intensive bike training in the 1980s to today the reduction is clear, and the curve is much sharper in decline that that for other road users who have received no training.

To take another example, in 1969, the Metropolitan Police's accident record was 1 accident every 80 thousand miles. In 1995 as training had been progressively cut, this rate quadrupled to 4 accidents in every 80 thousand miles. Last year, Police drivers killed 22 people — the highest total for 5 years. Yet Police driver training — particularly the Class 1 courses are being shortened and little investment is being made.

Finally, company car drivers drive some of the highest mileages of any user group, often under considerable pressure. However, company car fleet managers are leading the field in driver training. There are many studies of the effectiveness of training on fleets, but this paper will briefly consider just one.

In one particular fleet, quoted by the training firm "Drive and Survive", untrained drivers were responsible for 73% of the firm's accidents, their accidents cost more than twice as much as those of the trained drivers, but perhaps most significantly of all the accident rates of the trained drivers was only 15%, whereas that of the trained drivers was 105%.

IAM and RoSPA fleet training also hold many other statistics clearly demonstrating the benefits of training far higher than even the most effective reduction rates achieved by cameras, calming or other external speed restrictions.

The role of engineering

Road improvements are key to improving safety as they remove the potential for certain accidents to happen. What is needed is a restoration of the bypass program to remove through traffic from towns and villages and more effort to upgrade single carriageway trunk roads to dual and to provide graded junctions in place of central reservation gaps.

In town, engineering measures should focus on improving flows and removing conflicts between classes of road users.

Kill Your Speed has undermined road improvements by facilitating the introduction of inappropriate speed reduction based "traffic calming" measures. These have taken resource away from more valid road improvements and have often actually created hazardous situations, especially for cyclists and motorcyclists, to the extent that some of them have been removed soon after installation.

The role of enforcement

Enforcement should be targeted at those individuals whose behaviour is such that other, responsible road users cannot avoid accidents caused by their recklessness. Most accidents can be avoided by both parties, but those who lose control and mount the pavement, overtake on blind bends, fail to make basic observations of the road conditions or ignore give way signs or red lights (to give a few examples) are a menace on the roads and should be targeted by trained police officers, as should reckless cyclists and drunken pedestrians.

Sometimes, especially with less serious cases, it is appropriate that a speeding summons or fixed penalty should be issued in such circumstances, as an absolute offence is easier to prove and such behaviour is often accompanied by breaking the speed limit. However, this fact should not be used to justify the reverse logic — that breaking limits goes with reckless behaviour, this is not the case.

Enforcement should not be used on a blanket basis against drivers who are travelling safely according to the conditions but in excess of a limit which may be set for conditions pertinent at another time of day — for example outside a school in the middle of the night, or for conditions existing further down the road. A speed limit that it is never safe for a highly trained driver to exceed would be set far too high for most drivers most of the time. In the same way a limit set at the lowest common denominator would cause frustration, congestion and vastly increased journey times as well as being detrimental to road safety.

Kill Your Speed has brought about large scale enforcement of speed limits which are more often than not set inappropriately low. The ability to carry out such enforcement has enabled the setting of limits which would not be tolerated by the public otherwise. This has resulted in the wholesale persecution and terrorisation of completely safe drivers and is totally unacceptable.

The setting of speed limits

Legally binding national guidelines should be introduced to ensure that limits are set in accordance with existing and sensible DETR recommendations, amended only to account for the better handling and stopping distances of modern vehicles.

Kill Your Speed has created a climate whereby limits can be set according to political rather than safety criteria. Reducing a limit is often seen as good for safety and opposing such reductions is bad. This has created a situation where senseless limits are introduced after requests from a very small number of people, without any proper national structure. In addition, many Local Councils are looking for ways of making car use unpleasant to encourage "modal shift". They see low speed limits as an ideal way to achieve this.

This use of limits for environmental reasons has serious implications for the perception of speed limits and for road safety. Drivers must see speed limits set reasonably for reasons of safety, not for environmental or other reasons.

A new approach: The internalising of safe speeds

What does the ABD believe are the alternatives to what it has suggested is the over focus on lower speeds in each of the three Es? There is, of course, no easy answer — the whole issue of speed and limits is exceptionally complex.

The ABD does not for a moment disagree that speeds need to be managed — what we are suggesting is that the driver should be responsible for imposing the most appropriate speed for the conditions — only then can he or she apply the general rules for setting safe speeds to all conditions and driving situations — not merely where there are humps or cameras to affect her behaviour.

This internalising of safe speeds is absolutely vital to safe driving — the external imposition of slower speeds using either vehicular limiters or blanket limits will do little in the long term to improve safety on the road. Every driver is different, and the 60mph limit that may be far too high for one individual may be well within the skills limits of another — who might be able to travel the same road safely at 80mph.

The question then may be "how can we fit speed limiters in drivers heads rather than to their cars or to the roads"?

We would advocate a far greater emphasis on the WHOLE RANGE of skills and factors that go to make up safe driving — each of the factors mentioned in the earlier model of driver behaviour.


The ABD believes that the present emphasis on speed and external controls on the driver are leading, and will continue to lead to a "dumbing down" of drivers, leading in turn to higher accident rates as driving skills decay — no matter how low the speed limit. Slowing drivers down will NOT make them safer, and is likely to have negative consequences for road safety.

Secondly, we believe that using speed reduction as an attempt to secure modal shift is extremely dangerous. This has the potential to bring safety-based limits into disrepute, leading to them eventually being ignored and flouted wherever possible. Such a change in the driver's perception of speed limits would be disastrous.

Finally, we believe that there needs to be a clear shift away from speed and towards stressing the need for drivers to think, to observe, to anticipate and interpret — and, to achieve this, a move towards training and education. This will internalise safe driving practices and make them a permanent feature of road behaviour, not merely impose them when there is a camera, a speed bump or a lower speed limit.


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