Road Safety News
 

‘Marathon’ enforcement campaign tackles Europe’s speeding drivers

Tuesday 19th April 2016

A 24-hour ‘Speed Marathon’ took place across Europe on Thursday 21 April.

The day-long initiative formed part of TISPOL’s week-long speed enforcement operation which will set out to tackle ‘the single biggest factor in fatal road collisions’.

The campaign, which got underway on 18 April and ran until 24 April,  focused on prevention by persuading drivers to think about the risks associated with illegal and/or inappropriate speed.

TISPOL encouraged participating police forces to publish information about the precise locations of speed checkpoints in advance.

Aidan Reid, TISPOL president, said: “Our forthcoming speed enforcement activity is all about prevention. We want drivers to think about the speeds they choose; speeds which are both legal and appropriate for the conditions. By doing so, they will be reducing the risks they face and the risks they pose to other road users.

“Illegal and/or inappropriate speed is the single biggest factor in fatal road collisions. That’s why police officers take action against drivers who fail to comply with speed limits.

“The 24-hour speed marathon is one component in our strategy for reducing casualties, and making Europe’s roads safer.”

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My definition of "inappropriate speed" would be any road user whether mechanically propelled or not, travelling with a speed which prevents being able to avoid a hazard which may reasonably be expected to be encountered on the trip.

What then is a hazard that may reasonably be expected to be encountered? Is it a pedestrian stepping out/a child pedalling off a footway in front of a vehicle within its stopping distance - which is in itself a function of its speed amongst other factors?

If so, then I suppose "society" must judge what the appropriate stopping distance is for each type of road environment and work out the speed limit from that? Should we expect pedestrians to be able to walk about safely when adjacent vehicles are travelling at a maximum of 30mph/20mph or do we accept some sort of "natural selection" for those that can't? Same thing applies to vehicles travelling at 70mph on a motorway but perhaps the difference is the potential for the person making the "mistake" to harm the other participant in the collision?

Hope this makes sense?
Nick, Lanacshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)
+1

Hugh, I speak solely as a road user - usually as a pedestrian, and occasionally as a motorist.

What I have noticed as a pedestrian is that in some places motor traffic travels very fast and is very intimidating, making it very difficult to cross the road - I have been beeped at and sworn at for even attempting to cross the road in some places. However, I have also noticed that in other places the motor traffic travels slowly and the drivers are courteous towards pedestrians, even spontaneously stopping to let them cross if it seems they are likely to want to.

What I have also noticed is that the differences in behaviour are independent of the prevailing speed limit or whether there are speed cameras or police speed vans in the vicinity. From those observations alone, seeing both good speeds and bad speeds in areas with the same speed limit, I can conclude that there are far more effective and efficient measures than speed limits for controlling speeds on the streets.
Charles, England

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)
+3

Can I ask Charles, whether you are speaking solely as a motorist, or are you connected with road safety and collision reduction? The reason I ask is that you said there are far more effective and efficient measures available for controlling speeds on the streets - care to elaborate? There are many who are resistant to any form of speed management, so if you know of a system that will work for - and be acceptable to - even the hardened speeder, we'd all like to hear about it!
Hugh Jones

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+3

Hugh no, you actually share my lack of confidence in the ability of drivers to be able to judge the appropriate speed in many of of our current streets. Where we appear to differ is that I lack your confidence (blind faith?) in the potential effectiveness/efficiency of speed limits. The reasons that they are ineffective today will not go away, and given that there is no such thing as a good speed limit (they are either "academic" or largely ignored), and that there are far more effective and efficient measures available for controlling speeds on the streets (think about why some speed limits are "academic" as you put it), there can be nothing worthwhile that can be gained from flogging that dead horse, which speed limits are, any more furiously.
Charles, England

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-2

Where we differ Charles, is that I don't share your confidence in all drivers being able to judge the appropriate speed, whether above the limit or not. Where a limit is academic i.e. well above the normal actual speeds, there is still a wide variation of speeds to be found for the same circumstances - some 'appropriate' - some definitely not. Some have it - too many don't. I agree it needs to be adressed, but we have to start with the blatant offenders.
Hugh Jones

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0

Hugh, you missed the point. We expect drivers to choose their own safe speed (regardless of the potential performance of their vehicle) in circumstances where the speed limit is too high for the conditions - why do we imagine they can safely do that yet not equally safely choose their own speed otherwise?
Charles, England

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-1

Not so much that 'speed limits are ridiculously low' perhaps, but that speedometers are marked ridiculously high and vehicles are now able to accelerate ridiculously (and unnecessarily) fast and similarly with respect to maximum speeds. It might be better to ask what is the rationale behind that?

Again, it's well worth re-reading Guy Bradley's earlier comment, "The problem is that many drivers find that (safe speed) hard to judge, but also feel safe in their comfortable, well built cars, so speed limits are imposed as an overall maximum".

Where one person thinks a speed limit is 'ridiculously low', others might think it appropriate.
Hugh Jones

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0

What is the rationale behind speed limits when the "appropriate speed" so rarely exactly matches the speed limit anyway?

If we consider what we demand of drivers in circumstances where driving at the posted limit would be dangerous (we expect them to be able to exercise impeccable judgement in the choice of a lower speed - remember, speed limits are limits and not targets!) then we must ask why we won't allow them to use those same, trusted, powers of judgement in the situations where the speed limit is ridiculously low for the circumstances (we all know of such circumstances). If we then consider that blanket speed limits are generally redundant anyway, because we all know by now that they (without strict and unrelenting enforcement) have very little impact on the speeds that drivers choose to use (and generally quite safely) anyway, then we must surely ask *why* do we continue to use them? What is the rationale with respect to "appropriate speed" and where is the supporting evidence?
Charles, England

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-2

My original question was "could somebody please provide me with a clear, succinct and accurate definition of what an 'appropriate speed' actually is and how I will know if I am doing it?"

Many thanks to the six people that so far have had a stab at answering the question, but I would have thought that far more people would have pitched their answers because so many road safety interventions mention that inappropriate speed is a particular problem. I have asked this question on many different forums, but so far nobody has been able to answer it despite its obvious importance. Because of this I would like to put forward what I think is a fairly good answer to the question and once again ask for some input from the professionals on this forum.

"An appropriate speed is the one a driver or rider selects that ensures they cannot be involved in an accident because they have predicted 100% correctly what is going to happen next."
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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-4

I subscribe to the idea that it is changing attitudes to speed and driving that is important. What is happening in the UK (and elsewhere) is that there is a growing consensus that in urban and community streets we should moderate our speed to provide far greater safety, comfort and choices for people who are not in motor vehicles. So making those places far better places to live.

Then the speed limit becomes a societal endorsement of that consensus. Whilst individuals may feel that they can be safe at speeds faster than the limit, that is not in fact the issue. Its about a collective decision-making as to what is right, reasonable and acceptable followed by engagement so that everyone knows why its being done and enforcement for those who fail to comply.
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

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+2

I don't disagree with your last summary Charles, but as a Mr Bradley said in an earlier comment on this thread and in particular his last paragraph: "If all drivers comply with the limit, that's a start" - if some drivers are prone to not complying with the legal posted limit, don't expect them to be too bothered about whether their speed is 'appropriate' or 'inappropriate' either when it's otherwise legal.
Hugh Jones

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+2

Hugh, speed, as in not being stationary, is a factor in *all* collisions. Things that aren't moving cannot collide. However, we presumably agree that we must tolerate *some* speed in our society.

The question is then how do we moderate that speed to a level that best suits the prevailing conditions - which are infinitely variable in any given area. Some seem to think that blanket and static speed limits are the answer.

However, the evidence suggests that speed limits do not play a big part, if any, in the choice of speed for road users. Perhaps it's time to accept that reality, and start looking towards measures that actually will deliver safer speeds, regardless of whether there is a speed limit or not.
Charles, England

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-1

Charles

Based on your logic then it would appear that most crashes would not have been avoided had the vehicles been travelling slower!

There are only two boxes on the Stats 19 relating to speed. Both require the officer to only tick them if they have evidence.

One is "exceeding the speed limit" (306) and the other is "travelling too fast for conditions" (307). Both of which are highly subjective if the officer concerned was not a witness.

Hence the low percentage of crashes where speed is deemed and evidenced as a contributory factory do not mean that lower speeds of the participants could not have avoided the collision in the remaining incidents..
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

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+2

Charles - Although your belief in the reliability of Stats 19 is based on the fact that evidence from the scene is asessed by trained poilce officers and not gut feeling, I note nevertheless that your assessment of the causes of the collisions you've witnessed do seem to be based on gut feeling - are you confident you're able to accurately judge the approach speeds of vehicles as a (presumably) untrained observer/bystander? As Rod says, speed is a factor where a slower speed would have prevented the collision.
Hugh Jones

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+2

Rod no, in this context, there is no difference between speed being a factor and speed being a contributory factor. If speed did not play any role in the outcome of an incident then it clearly isn't a relevant factor. On the other hand, if speed *did* play a role, then speed is a contributory factor and will be recorded as such - that is how STATS19 works.

Hugh, STATS19 is the best we have. I would rather we used that data than gut feeling. STATS19 is, at least, informed opinion by a trained police officer - based on evidence from the scene. Gut feeling can be influenced by many outside factors and prejudices unrelated to the given incident itself. I've never personally witnessed a collision where speeding was a factor - in the few I have witnessed (urban and rural) all parties were travelling well within the speed limit. That isn't to say that none of them were travelling too fast for the prevailing conditions though, because I think they probably all were. But as we know, speed limits are the wrong tool to try to tackle the problem of travelling too fast for conditions with - there are more efficient and effective ways to do that.
Charles, England

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0

Charles, I am afraid you are wrong. There is a difference between speeding and/or inappropriate speed being a factor (as in the article) and being a "contributory factor".

Stats 19 reports by the police only refer to contributory factors to the incident and therefore do not indicate whether a lower speed may have resulted in the collision being avoided.

Speed can be classified as an impairment to one's ability to avoid collisions. The higher the speed then the faster reactions are required and the more robust control systems are required to avoid collisions. Speed pushes all of these and often to the limit such that the participants in an incident can no longer control the consequences of their interactions.

Hence your reliance only on speed as a contributor only applies to the analysis of the cause of incidents and not the transformation of incidents into crashes.

In the real world people die, are injured and are put off using the roads as vulnerable users due to the consequences of speed.
Rod King, Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

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+1

I may not be permitted another comment but people's faith in Stats 19 is understandable but misguided - the police do not witness the collisions they have to report on and witnesses can be unreliable and contradictory and the factors can only be judged after the event. The causes of collisions are an everyday occurence however and are there for us all to see for ourselves - so what's the most significant, commonest and most easily observed failing amongst drivers which can lead to accidnets? Speeding. No matter how one redefine it, mangle and analyse the data, it still comes down to speeding and campaigns like this are therefore never wasted.
Hugh Jones

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-1

The statement "Illegal and/or inappropriate speed is the single biggest factor in fatal road collisions." makes no sense for at least two reasons.

Firstly, "Illegal and/or inappropriate speed" is not a "single" factor, they are two unrelated factors.

- "Illegal speed" is speed above the posted speed limit, which may or may not be appropriate otherwise.

- "Inappropriate speed" is speed within the speed limit but judged by the reporting police officer to be injudicial for the prevailing conditions.

Secondly, according to Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2014 Annual Report, neither of those factors (or even the two combined) is the biggest single factor in fatal road collisions. According to the DfT report, the two most frequently reported contributory factors for fatal accidents in GB were "loss of control" and "failed to look properly".

Surely, if we are to be able to provide an effective model to improve road safety, we need first to understand the facts. Before we can do that we need to be coherent and consistent with the way we represent the data.
Charles, England

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+8

Guy - 'speed,' of any legal or non-legal description or guesstimate is not the biggest single factor in fatal accidents. DfT contributory factors say 'loss of control' is the biggest single factor. If 'loss of control' is due to 'speed' then speed and loss of control would be paired as factors on Stats 19 forms making them equal first. Sure, the 'after the event' Stats 19 system isn't perfect by any means, but it's the best we have.
Paul Biggs, Staffordshire

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+2

In reply to Paul Biggs, if you read the article more closely, you will see that it refers to ‘the single biggest factor in FATAL road collisions’ (my capitals for emphasis). Impact causes harm and injury and the higher the speed at the point of impact, the more harm is caused.

Speed limits are part of the law of the land and road users have to accept them or accept the consequences of their actions, like any other breach of the law. The problem has always been that the chance of an impact happening is relatively low, so the more we do something that is potentially dangerous without incident, the more we think it is safe to do it.

We are all obliged to follow the rules of the road, including that we should always drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear, adjusting for the prevailing road and weather conditions. That is what I understand by the term 'appropriate'.

The problem is that many drivers find that hard to judge, but also feel safe in their comfortable, well built cars, so speed limits are imposed as an overall maximum. If all drivers comply with the limit, that's a start.
Guy Bradley, Hertfordshire

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+3

Here we go again. The single biggest factor in road collisions? 100% if we consider speed as vehicles actually moving. A recent FOI request I made about 471 accidents on the A38 in Staffordshire revealed exceeding the speed limit was ranked 10th at 4%. We might be forgiven for wondering why law enforcers don't use legal terminology. Inappropriate speed isn't a legal term or an offence - exceeding the speed limit is. What is an appropriate speed? Is it any speed where no accident happened? Is it measured in 10mph increments? What's an inappropriate speed? Any speed where an accident happened? Anyway, what have Europe's roads got to do with the UK? They aren't connected.
Paul Biggs, Staffordshire

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0

A very simplistic view with too many ifs and buts which in reality can be retrospectively applied to any collision when a vehicle is in motion at any speed in any conditions. Even in a carpark with speeds as low as a few miles an hour.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CveElF7sNYU

I would suggest the above illustrates the point that at dusk on a country road with good sightlines 30mph using your criteria is too fast. Although hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of journeys like this are completed at the national limit without incident everyday.
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

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+4

"..we should never be moving anywhere near the national speed limit as deer and other animals can easily come out of hedgelines." Quite right - where the hedgelines are up to the edge of c/way, driving at the national speed limit on roads with these physical characteristics is not good practice because the span of our forward visibility is minimal however, where hedgelines are well back and there is a footway or verge, our 'advance notice' of others is better. I didn't think it was necessary to elaborate in this way to answer Duncan's question as I took it as read that what we can and can't see, influences our speed to a great extent - so does being alert, concentrating and having good brakes, but I didnt think it was necessary to mention those either.
Hugh Jones

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+1

"Apart from not being illegal, we shouldn't ever be going so fast that we're not prepared to, or can't, stop or otherwise avoid, contact with anyone or anything that may cross our path or come within striking distance."

From the above statement we should never be moving anywhere near the national speed limit as deer and other animals can easily come out of hedgelines.

I think reasonably certain is a fairer measure as with the millions of miles driven at, or near this limit have proven over the many years, the likelihood of incident is small.

I am quite sure that nearly 99.9% of travellers do not go out to cause an incident and we should be aware of this before demonising groups or using derogatory tones.
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (9) | Disagree (5)
+4

Possibly Duncan's question is tongue-in-cheek, but all drivers should know whether their speed is appropriate to the prevailing circumstances - regardless of their profession or job. I say 'should' know, but too many can't judge it. Apart from not being illegal, we shouldn't ever be going so fast that we're not prepared to, or can't, stop or otherwise avoid, contact with anyone or anything that may cross our path or come within striking distance.

Even when risk is mimimal, there's also driving at a speed which is respectful to other road users and residents that otherwise could be described as anti-social. That's rather a loose definition obviously and others may want to add to it.

In terms of actual speed, I've found that anything above the average or mean speed - plus 10% - is borderline inapprporiate and where the safety margin starts to diminish - again only appproximate and assumes that the driver would know what the average for the road at the time actually is!
Hugh Jones

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+4

I know that thanks to my amateur status I'm not really supposed to post on this forum, but I do have a genuine question that only a professional in the road safety industry can answer.

If 'inappropriate speed' carries significant risks of me being involved in a fatal accident then could somebody please provide me with a clear, succinct and accurate definition of what an 'appropriate speed' actually is and how I will know if I am doing it?

I'm sure that a great many other road users would appreciate knowing this as well.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (9) | Disagree (6)
+3