Progress on making speeding socially unacceptable may be hampered by confusion on 20mph limits says IAM RoadSmart

Posted on 29/06/17 |

Making speeding as unacceptable as drink driving still seems a long way off given the results of today’s speed compliance statistics from the Department of Transport (1).  While 96% of drivers rate drink driving unacceptable (2), 81% of cars are exceeding 20mph speed limits on a regular basis.

It’s slightly better news overall with speeds coming down since 2011 across most roads, so more drivers are clearly getting the message that slowing down saves lives, helps the environment and doesn’t add much to your overall journey time.  Exceeding the speed limit was a factor in 15% of all fatal crashes in 2016 which was slightly down from the 2015 figure of 16.5%.  But, with around half of all car and van drivers still willing to ignore limits on motorways and 30mph roads, more work is clearly needed to change behaviour on our roads.

Neil Greig director of policy and research said,” It’s really good news for road safety that the roads with the highest speed compliance are actually our most dangerous - 60mph rural single carriageways.  Recent government, police and road safety charity campaigns have highlighted this issue and it does appear that the message is getting through.

Greig adds ”The main problem is clearly getting drivers to comply on the ever increasing number of roads in our towns and cities with a 20mph limit.  IAM RoadSmart have always felt that blanket 20mph limits, enforced by signposts only, are simply not enough to convey the reason for slowing down to drivers.  Targeting the worst locations with traffic calming and other engineering features is a much more effective way to make 20mph limits self-enforcing.  Speed limits on roads with consistent compliance problems need to be reviewed more frequently.

“We must all work to make it easy to stick to the speed limit and our main concern is that widespread confusion over 20mph may be undermining a more general trend to slow down.”


Notes to editors:

  2. IAM Safety Culture Index 2016.
  3. IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has 92,000 members and campaigns on road safety on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.

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