Speeding is a factor in about one third of road fatalities in Australiai. Additionally, more than 4100 people are injured in speed-related incidents each yearii. But there's always more than one victim of speeding.
Speeding affects not only those directly involved in a speed-related accident. A death or serious injury affects the victim's friends, family, witnesses, and the community at large. A hard-hitting ad campaign from the Transport Accidents Commission Victoria depicted the real-life impacts of the speed-related death of Luke Robinson in 2010 on 23 people who knew him. The campaign focused on just one event, but there are hundreds of people who die and thousands injured as a result of speeding every year in Australia. Consequently, there are thousands of victims of speeding - either directly or indirectly - in this country, and with every death on the road there are hundreds more that suffer.
The number of road accident fatalities in Australia fell from a peak of 30.4 per 100,000 people in 1970 to 6.9 in 2009iii. Still, there are an estimated 1300 deaths on Australian roads each yeariv and speeding is said to be a factor in about 34% of these incidentsi. The drivers that are most likely to commit speeding offences are males aged 17-25v and they account for one third of all speeding drivers in fatal crashesv.
What is speeding?
The definition of speeding goes beyond driving above the speed limit. Speeding includes driving too fast for the circumstances or conditions of the road, such as not taking into account weather, light, traffic, roadwork, or road surfacevi.
A driver can easily lose control of their vehicle when speeding, as stopping distances (the distance that a vehicle travels while slowing to a complete stopvii) and reaction times (the time it takes to see a hazard, realise the danger and take consequential action, like brakingvii) increase. For example, in dry conditions a car traveling at 60km/h takes about 38m to stop; a car traveling at 80km/h needs the length of more than half a football field to come to a stopii. Distance and time is critical when an object or pedestrian comes into the path of a vehicle .A long reaction time means a greater stopping distance and the likelihood of an unavoidable and severe crash is therefore increasedvii. In essence, 'the faster you drive, the harder you hit'viii.
The cost of speeding
Aside from its emotional toll on victims, witnesses, family and friends, speeding incidents cost the community at large. Speed related crashes cost the Australian economy around $27 billion dollars each year and occupy valuable resourcesi. Emergency services, hospital and healthcare and loss of productivity in the workplace are some of the expenses that the community takes onii.
What you can do
There are a few simple ways you can prevent speeding and hopefully some of the tragedy speeding contributes to:
- Monitor your speed especially when slowing down from a high speed.
- Be aware of road signs or warnings especially when approaching curves or corners.
- Always stay within the speed limit posted on a particular stretch of road.
- Drive slower than the speed limit if weather, traffic or road conditions are poor or difficult to drive in.
- When travelling at high speeds, increase the distance between your car and the vehicle ahead of you so that you can stop safely and react quickly to prevent an accident.
- Avoid cutting in front of larger vehicles such as trucks because these vehicles require greater stopping distancesix.
- Install safety technology in your car to help prevent you from speeding. For example, Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA) is able to alert drivers when they exceed the speed limit by providing auditory or visual warningsx. ISA begins to function when a driver exceeds the speed limit for a section of road, by employing GPS technology linked to a speed zone databasex.
- If you are a passenger in a car in which the driver is speeding, ask them to slow down.
Speeding directly affects not only the speeding driver, but also passengers and other road users. For the families of those killed in accidents where speed is a factor, the impact can last a lifetime. Accidents caused by speeding are avoidable: safe, speed appropriate driving can contribute to further reductions in our road tolls and avoid the unnecessary emotional and financial toll on families across the country.
i Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA), 2010, Road Policing Statistics, https://www.anzpaa.org.au/current-initiatives/operation-crossroads/road-policing-statistics
ii Roads and Maritime Services, 2012, Speeding, http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadsafety/speedandspeedcameras/index.html
iii Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, 1370.0 - Measures of Australia's Progress: Transport, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1370.0~2010~Chapter~Road%20safety%20(4.9.2)
iv Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, 1301.0 - Year Book Australia: Transport, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1301.0~2012~Main%20Features~Accidents,%20injuries%20and%20fatalities~189
v Young Driver Factbase, 2007, Key Statistics, http://www.youngdriverfactbase.com/key-statistics
vi World Health Organisation (WHO), 2008, Speed management: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners, Geneva, GlobalRoad Safety Partnership, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/2008/9782940395040_eng.pdf
vii Roads and Maritime Services, 2011, Speeding Factsheet, http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/saferroadsnsw/speeding_and_crashes.pdf
viii Office of Road Safety, 2012, Speeding, http://www.ors.wa.gov.au/Demographic-Pages/I-am-Working-in-Road-Safety/Speed.aspx
ix Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland, 2011, Speeding, http://www.police.qld.gov.au/Resources/Internet/news%20and%20alerts/campaigns/fatalfive/documents/speeding_fs.pdf
x How Safe is Your Car (Transport Accident Commission), Intelligent Speed Assist, http://www.howsafeisyourcar.com.au/Safety-Features/Safety-Features-List/Intelligent-Speed-Assist-ISA/