Drivers support lower speed limits, but speed themselves

10.16 | 22 September 2010 | | 4 comments

The majority of drivers support lower speed limits despite being unable to resist speeding themselves, according to research released today (22 September) by the road safety charity Brake and Direct Line.

The survey found that 92% of drivers want a 20mph limit around schools, 60% want a 20mph limit around homes, and 56% want a 20mph limit in all areas where there are lots of people on foot and bicycle. A lowering of speed limits on rural roads was also supported by 70% of respondents.

While supporting lower speed limits, most drivers admitted speeding themselves. The survey found that 72% of drivers had driven at 35mph or faster in a 30mph zone, with 36% saying they did it at least once a week. On rural roads 51% admitted to breaking the 60mph limit, with 30% saying they did it at least once a week.

When asked what would persuade them to drive more carefully, the measure named by most drivers was enforcement. 63% said more police and cameras would persuade them, 46% said tougher penalties and 26% said more publicity campaigns by the government would help.

Julie Townsend, Brake’s campaigns director, said: “In recent months the debate on speed and speed enforcement has been raging, following news that some local authorities are turning off their speed cameras.

“Our research suggests that drivers do understand that slowing down saves lives – as they overwhelmingly support lower speed limits on both urban and rural roads. At the same time, the majority of drivers continue to break speed limits, and tell us that enforcement is the main factor that persuades them to slow down.

“The government must listen to what drivers are saying: we need lower limits, and effective enforcement, to stamp out the menace of speeding and the needless deaths and injuries that result from it.”

For more information contact Ellen Booth at Brake on 01484 550067


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    Vince, a snapshot from the late 1960s. A car stopped in Rotherhithe for driver behaviour, under the driver’s seat – a sawn-off shot gun used in a wages snatch. A car stopped for speeding in Dulwich, under the spare wheel – jewellery from a burglary just committed. A car stopped for jumping a red light in the Old Kent Road, hidden under the back seat – illegal drugs, the driver was a dealer. All this was over the space of 10 days. All the officers came from the same Traffic Garage. Were any of these cases mine? Yes, the shot-gun case.

    Do we need roads policing? Well, the 4X4 used for terrorism at Edinburgh Airport didn’t fly there.

    Roy Buchanan, Sutton
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    I agree with Roy and Vince on this. As Vince points out, they also make ‘high quality’ arrests.

    Mark – Wiltshire
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    Once again Roy Buchanan bangs on about more ‘Roads Policing’. Quite right too! I fully support this view and the message needs to repeated as often as possible until the situation is rectified.

    Sadly, I don’t think it ever will be. I know TrafPol numbers have declined from the late 80’s/early 90’s and must be a fraction of what they were in Roy’s heyday of the 70’s.

    What is quite often forgotten is that not only do TrafPols enforce traffic law, they also catch a lot of criminals because, believe it or not, criminals use the roads. I wonder how many serious criminal offences have been detected because a vehicle had an out of date tax disc, dodgy tyre or other defect that was spotted by a TrafPol?

    Keep shouting Roy, one day someone in authority who can make changes might hear you.

    Vince Morley – Milton Keynes
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    In this survey, “When asked what would persuade them to drive more carefully, the measure named by most drivers (63%) was enforcement.” In a survey carried out in 2006 by Tesco Car Insurance, 42% said “High profile police patrol cars are the best way to make Britain’s roads safer.” A report in The Times in 2007 said “The Government has reprimanded chief constables for failing to allocate enough traffic officers to keep roads safe.” A comment made this week by the Chairman of TyreSafe was that motorists know the risk of being caught committing offences by the police is very low.

    How long will we have to wait for this situation to be rectified? Could Road Safety GB being doing more? I am at the TISPOL Conference in Manchester next week. Will I be networking for better roads policing? Well, what do you think?

    Roy Buchanan, Sutton
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