47% of drivers admit to driving at speeds in excess of 60mph at least once in the past year in order to overtake on country roads, according to a survey released by Brake and Direct Line.
The survey of 942 drivers also revealed that 23% did this at least once a month. One in eight surveyed admitted to overtaking when they couldn’t see what was coming in the other direction.
Ellen Booth, Brake’s campaigns officer, said: “It’s high time we tackle this irresponsible and dangerous love of speed on our roads. Drivers who overtake at speed on country roads aren’t just risking their own lives – they’re endangering their passengers and anyone coming the other way.”
Andy Goldby of Direct Line, said: “Two people die on single carriageway roads every day, and these deaths could be prevented. Our own data suggests that young drivers and their passengers are even more likely to die on this type of road.
“Drivers should remember that patience is a virtue, when it comes to deciding to overtake another vehicle at speed, as it could be a life saver.”
Brake says that in Britain in 2009, 749 deaths occurred on single carriageway roads with a speed limit of 60mph. Almost a third of people killed on single carriageways with a 60mph limit die in crashes where ‘exceeding the speed limit’ and/or ‘travelling too fast for the conditions’ are recorded as a factor.
The charity says that the coalition government has yet to respond to a 2010 consultation on setting speed limits, which proposed that highways authorities should carry out speed limit reviews on ‘A’ and ‘B’ class national speed limit single carriageways and lower limits on rural roads.
Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “Brake is right to highlight the dangers of rural roads. The IAM believes that driver training, especially post-test training, is the real answer to this problem.
“Most crashes are not caused by breaking the speed limit but by the driver’s poor decision-making. Driving too fast for the conditions is only one example of this. A blanket speed reduction to 50mph will not stop the human errors that the police record as the real reason for a crash. Nor will reducing the speed limit reduce the number of people who break that limit.
“Poor overtaking takes place at all speeds and is linked to inexperience and bravado, particularly in young men. Until driving experience on single carriageway rural roads is a compulsory part of the driving test, many young people will only learn about these roads through trial and error, where the most basic mistake can result in tragedy.”
For more information contact Ellen Booth at Brake on 01484 550067.