Do speed limits matter?

In built-up areas, even a slight increase in speed can make a huge difference to whether someone lives or dies.

At 35mph a driver is twice as likely to kill someone than they are at 30mph.

“The majority of drivers regularly break speed limits. This is true for all classes of roads, all times of day and all days of the week.” (DETR)

Speeding is not something carried out by a small deviant minority – about two thirds of drivers regularly exceed 30mph urban speed limits and most vehicle related deaths occur on these roads.

In the UK, many drivers believe excessive speed is not a problem, even though it can pose a serious risk to all road users.

speed limitsDrivers who want to break the speed limit often intimidate other drivers in front of them by driving too close or constantly trying to overtake.

This can put a lot of stress on other drivers so that they also feel a need to exceed the speed limit to alleviate pressure from vehicles behind.

Many drivers also treat posted speed limits as minimums rather than maximums, failing to realise the risks they pose to themselves, their passengers and other road users.

There is overwhelming evidence that lower speeds result in both fewer collisions and in reduced severity of collisions. Research by the Transport Research Laboratory showed that just a 1mph reduction in average speed results in an average 5% reduction in collisions.

At the other end of the spectrum, even a slight increase in speed can cause fatality rates to soar.

Drivers are twice as likely to kill someone when travelling at 35mph than they are at 30mph.

At 40mph, nine out of 10 pedestrians will die, but at 20mph, nine out of ten will survive.

Over four times as many people die each year on our roads than as a result of violent crime.

Our driving attitude and behaviour has to change to prevent many more unnecessary deaths and suffering.

More info: