The Department of Transport released data last week that revealed speeding offences reached a six year high in 2016. There were a total of 2.2 million speed-related prosecutions during the year, compared to 1.6 million in 2011. This has sparked major road safety concerns, as excess speed contributes to almost 25% of all fatal crashes on British roads. This highlights just how dangerous speeding is.

Drivers speeding three times per journey

Despite these shocking statistics, six in ten British motorists admit that they are willing to exceed speed limits. Indeed, the average motorist will knowingly do so three times per journey.

This is despite the introduction of higher fines for those who are caught driving over the speed limit. The new speeding fines were introduced on 24 April 2017. The changes saw three bands of speeding put into place. The applicable fines increase in severity depending on just how fast a motorist is driving over the limit.

Many drivers questioned believe that there were legitimate reasons for speeding. Examples provided included driving to A&E, taking a passenger in labour to hospital, driving on an empty road, needing the toilet or escaping the police!

Almost as worrying as these findings is the fact that 55% of drivers questioned about speed-specific road signs couldn’t identify the sign that signals the end of a 20mph limit and the beginning of a 30mph limit. Meanwhile, 33% didn’t know what the national speed limit sign was telling them.

This research suggests that neither increasing speeding fines nor putting more signs on the road will encourage drivers to slow down. As such, what else can we do to try to make our roads safer for all who use them?

Slow Down!

(Credit – Albert Bridge)

Shocking tactics

Insurance company More Th>n has been working on one possible solution. The company proposes showing photos of car crashes alongside speed limit signs to warn drivers of what they could face if they don’t obey the law. It’s a tactic that has been used on cigarette packets to try to deter people from smoking.

Using graphic images on cigarette packets has been proven to work by scientists. Smokers who see the images say that they make them understand how dangerous their habit is and that the images have made them consider quitting smoking. The MoreTh>n theory is that if showing this type of image is enough to encourage someone to give up an addictive habit, it may be that the same type of deterrent will work for speeding motorists.

More Th>n conducted a study to test this theory. It found that 67% of drivers felt heightened awareness of speeding dangers when they saw the signs, while 56% thought that the images were shocking (which made them effective).

Now, the company is sharing its findings with local police forces in the hope that they can carry out further trials, as more than half of the 2,000 drivers surveyed said that they think that the signs depicting car crashes would encourage drivers to slow down.

Unfortunately, little has been revealed so far about how young children will be prevented from exposure to such shocking images. Shops are obliged to hide the images on cigarette packets, but it is unclear how younger viewers will be protected from horrific images on speeding signs.

Other deterrents

The study also found that 25% of motorists don’t think that speed awareness courses act as a deterrent. This statistic adds further weight to the argument that the way in which speeding drivers are dealt with needs to change.

Road safety charity Brake has found this data very concerning. It has come up with several strategies that it would like to see implemented in order to combat speeding. These include increased enforcement by police, a default 20mph limit in all built-up areas, and ‘intelligent speed adaption’ to be fitted to all new cars as standard, in order to help drivers to stick to speed limits. Such systems either alert the driver that he/she is speeding or automatically reduce the speed of the vehicle.

There are a number of different options that could be implemented in order to deter drivers from speeding. Given the rising incidence of speed-related offences, it’s time that some of them are put into action to make our roads safer.

What would be the most effective tactic to deter you from speeding? Why is it that higher fines are failing to cut speeding offences? Share your views in the comment section below. 

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