A Fine Mess - Motoring 10/3/1 - Mathew Davies
I write in reply to a ridiculous anonymous letter printed under the above title on the above date.

To suggest that speeding is the cause of only 6% off all accidents is a niaive and selective interpretation of TRL Report 323. It is the case that "speeding only" is the cause, as stated, of only a relatively low percentage of road traffic accidents (RTAs). This is a a result of the STATS 19 form which used by the Police to record RTA location, vehicle and casualty details which allows accident causation to be suggested by the attending Police Officer.

Speeding is one of a number of acceptable causations however it is not particularly descriptive. If while speeding the vehicle had, say, overturned or skidded then this would be the causation and what would have been reported in TRL report 323. As you can see overturned or skidded can be considered after the incident as more useful when considering accident remedial measures while the route cause of the accident was still speeding. The most common type of accident is the "rear end shunt" on the approach to a roundabout due to a number of reasons including a lack of observation, travelling too quickly and skid resistance but once again speeding is a factor but is likely to not be reported from the accident as rear end shunt is more descriptive.

I think it is about time that speeding is recognised as the main cause of accidents, and to be honest the two accidents which I have been involved in excess speed was the cause, think about accidents that you have been involved in, had you been travelling a little slower would the accident still have happened?

Drink driving is now rightly considered almost a sin, it does however result in a minimal number of accidents compared to speeding. It has been shown in recent studies accross a number of countries that a reduction in mean vehicle speed of just 1 mph will result in a recuction of accidents by 5%.

It would appear in this country that we wish to retain the "Right to Speed", as do American's so ridiculously, and to our dismay, claim the right to "hold arms" the result of which appear to be very similar, death.

The matter of whether speeding should be considered a serious crime, as opposed to just a "finable" offence can be a long and detailed discussion which normally is swung by who has been caught speeding. A small fine to a wealthy person is negligable whereas a criminal record is somewhat different.

I was pleased to read the article "The Price of Life" discussing the merits of the enormous amount of money being spent to improve Rail safety, after the Hatfield incident, as I also hold the view that road traffic calming measures and road local safety schemes is a far more efficient place to spend such monies.

It is callous to dicsuss Rates of Return for road safety schemes however such methods which rank different types of work at the same location or comparing different project locations does at least ensure good value for money. As a traffic engineer I was never involved with a scheme which did not in ,just the first, year achieve a "profit", a "profit" was defined as the cost of a reduction, in just one year, in accidents to the country at a location was below the cost of the works. A slight RTA was valued at about £54,000 (Highways Economic Note 1) . I know full well that the Railway measures being discussed will not achieve such "Profit".

On the day of the horific Selby rail crash just as many people would have been killed on the roads of the UK that day, however the following day there was no further tragic rail crashes but once again around 10 people were killed on the roads again. This continues day in, day out. Ten people every day. ( A Jumbo Jet every month)

I was a little concerned by the attitude of the above article which suggested that it is the reponsibilites of Highway Engineers to "design out" accidents from the road rather than people just slow down.

The majority of the deaths is as a result of somebody speeding. The Highway Code suggest that you should "be able to stop within the distance you see to be clear". If you think about this it is the correct way to drive. Upon approaching a tight bend the speed to travel around the bend should not be deemed by the highest speed that allows you to physically get around the bend, but consider that the person before you who did not make it around the corner, you should be able to stop before ramming into them. Agreed the cause of the collision is that there was a vehicle around the corner but would it not be better to be able to safely stop and assist at the scene of the accident rather than making it worse.

I am concerned that it is considered necessary to erect speed camera's to reduce peoples speed, but also in the allogations that it is purely a revenue raiser - would it resolve the issue if the fines were reduced to just cover the costs and that the number of points issued was increased? or is it still peoples right to speed?

Speed Camera technology is improving very quickly and combining digital photography, number plate recognition software and Police to DVLA data links the issueing of speed tickets can be instantaneous. A new method of average speed photgraphy will elliminmate the heavy braking before an obvious speed camera box a the average speed will be measured over a longer length, ie one end of a village to the other.

I hope that shortly the message of speeding will be understood , as drink driving is now considered unsociable. I appreciate that driving a vehicle fast is good fun but the public highway is not the place for it, you should take up the opportunity of a track day and really let loose.

Whilst I appreciate that my comments are not "in-line" with that of the Motoring Telegraph but I hope that they are taken in the way that they are meant which is speeading is the main cause of accident, accidents kill 10 people per day of the roads of the UK most of which will be as a result of speeding, is it really worth saving a couple of minutes of your journey?

Mat Davies
Re: A Fine Mess - Motoring 10/3/1 - Alvin Booth
Hi mat,
I must agree with what you say. It is simple logic that speed is the ultimate decider in the degree of injury to a person who comes into a collision with another object whether it is in a vehicle or simply running down the road.
We have all read articles by newspaper motoring columnists who recognise themselves as experts to defy simple logic.
To go from the sublime to the ridiculous how many people would be killed if motor vehicles were limited to 10mph. very few of course.
However simply reiterating this will not produce results and I can't imagine that the law will ever be able to make a significant difference.
I often wonder how authority can one hand lecture on speeding and on the other allow cars to be sold which are capable of travelling at twice the legal speed limit. Why are HGVs governed to a certain speed when a car isn't.
We all believe that we personally are safe at speed and many others are not.
There are so many questions which could be asked with no answers forthcoming.
I agree with your observation drawing a similarity with the Americans right to carry arms. There is no easy answer Mat when one can watch the adverts on TV where the first one is a Govt one pleading for us to cut our speed and the next is promoting a car which can reach tremendous speeds in x seconds.
Whats the answer???????

Alvin Booth
Re: A Fine Mess - Motoring 10/3/1 - honestjohn
Speed is essential to the UK economy. To suggest that we all slow down either mean imposing many hours more work on workers or means that they will produce less. Slowing doen is also extremely dangerous because it makes drivers bored and far less alert.

Re: A Fine Mess - Motoring 10/3/1 - Mark
I totally agree with your statements. The only accident I have had was due to me driving too fast. Luckily all that I suffered was shock, though the fence and bus stop weren't so lucky. Like Alan said, I thought I was safe, I bloody wasn't though.

As to honestjohns comment, talk about irresponsible. If people were to drive slower the huge traffic jams we see entering into towns every morning wouldn't be as bad because the traffic wouldn't be adding to the back of the queue as quickly. So in fact people might actually spend less time travelling to their place of work.

And saying driving at slow speeds is more dangerous because drivers get more bored. Hmm, ok, driving at high speed is a lot more taxing on the driver, they need to pay more attention to the road, be much more attentive to the possibility of other drivers ahead, be able to cope with such a situation without causing their own death. Driving at slower speeds may be more boring, heck, I speed every day, but you're much more likely to survive an accident, and other people are more likely to survive if you hit them. Then of course we have the environmental arguement, driving at high speeds uses more fuel to get from A to B than driving at a slower speed (I'm talking Motorway speeds here).

It would be nice if we were all courteous drivers who drive within the speed limits, but unfortunately it isn't going to happen as we are all too impatient and need to be kept in check by speed cameras and the police.

Value my car