Thursday 19 October 2017

Road safety expert: 'When you hit someone at 50km/h they have a 50pc chance of living, at 60km/h their chance drops to just 10pc'

Our Road Safety Authority expert has startling figures to show how speed can make you a killer

Speed behind the wheel can turn you into a killer
Speed behind the wheel can turn you into a killer
Speed is the biggest contributing factor to road deaths in Ireland

Between 2008 and 2012, the RSA examined 867 forensic investigation files on fatal collisions. They focused on the vehicle and associated behaviour, which may have contributed to the collision.

Of the 867 collisions analysed, 274 (32pc) had excessive speed for the road and conditions as a contributory factor. This may not have been the sole cause of the accident, but contributed in either full, or part, to the final outcome. Of this number, 19pc said excessive speed was the sole contributory factor.

From the observational studies we annually conduct nationwide, 80pc of drivers are breaking the speed limit in towns and cities: areas with 50kmh speed limits to protect the vulnerable.

Typically, 7-in-10 pedestrian casualties occur on roads of 50km/h or lower, highlighting the importance of drivers obeying urban limits. A majority of people also tell us through attitudinal surveys, that they believe it's okay to break the speed limits by up to 10kmh over the posted speed limit. Many don't really see this as speeding at all.

In response to these shocking findings, the RSA has produced a new anti-speeding campaign, focusing on the consequences of breaking the speed limit, by what many would consider 'going a little bit over the speed limit'. Unfortunately, for pedestrians and cyclists, there is no such thing as a little bit injured or a little bit dead.

Speed is the biggest contributing factor to road deaths. And its difference is felt acutely at low levels. When you hit someone at 50km/h, they have a 50pc chance of living. If hit at 60km/h, their chance drops to just 10pc.

Our campaign shows the danger of just this kind of speeding by low increments. The kind of speeding some drivers do without even realising. The 5kmph you go over in a daze, that doubles your chance of being involved in a casualty collision.

For the campaign, we commissioned an original song by the brilliant Irish recording artist Cathy Davey. It's a beautiful, wistful piece, which seems to detail the things our driver sees on his journey.

However, as our driver nudges his speed up, moving from 50km/h to 60km/h, it's harder and harder for the singer to keep up with the things that appear on the road: the things our driver is supposed to be noticing and reacting to. Roadside objects appear thicker and faster - it starts to become frenetic and breaks down in chaos until our final moment: Where the driver hits a young girl.

"When you're going too fast, you can't keep up with the road," we read. Our message is simple. "Slow down".

It's a hauntingly-emotive film, to remind drivers that even a small increase in speed, can have the most devastating of consequences.

The campaign was timed to go live at the same time as the gardaí mounted their recent National Slow Down Day.

This was held over a 24-hour period between 7am Friday 21st and 7am Saturday 22nd October, 2016. In total, the gardaí and GoSafe checked 135,010 vehicles. A total of 341 vehicles were travelling above the limit.

Some notable detections over the 24-hour period in 50km/h zones were:

• 75 km/h in a 50km/h zone on the R445 at Ballymany, Newbridge, Kildare.

• 69 km/h on a 50km/h zone on the R712 Pennefatherslot Kilkenny.

• 65km/h in a 50km/h zone on the N80 Newtownbarry, Bunclody, Wexford.

• 62km/h in a 50km/h zone on the R245 at Ballyraine, Letterkenny, Donegal

To put these speeds in context again. Hit at 50kmh, a pedestrian's chances of survival are the toss of a coin. Hit at speeds above that, and it reduces to less than 10pc. Drive too fast and you simply won't be able to keep up with the road.

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