Saturday 26 May 2018

Danger drivers: more of us are now speeding on lower-limit roads

New survey shows urgent need for more 30kmh limits in urban areas, our RSA expert warns

The RSA will be focusing on speed over the next six weeks
The RSA will be focusing on speed over the next six weeks

Every year the RSA conducts a survey to determine the incidence of speeding. It's called the 'Free Speed' survey.

'Free Speed' is the rate at which drivers choose to travel when completely unconstrained by road geometry, weather conditions or traffic conditions such as congestion.

The survey took place late last year and we observed 17,591 vehicles. The survey tracked speeds on all types of road and all sorts of vehicles: cars, rigid goods vehicles, semi-articulated vehicles, buses (single and double decker) and motorcycles.

Results found the average speed for cars was 113kmh on motorways where the speed limit is 120kmh; 96kmh on dual carriageways where the limit is 100kmh; 65kmh on urban arterial roads where the limit is 60kmh; and 57kmh on urban national roads where the limit is 50kmh.

These are the average speeds that drivers choose to drive at when unimpeded. But how many cars are actually breaking the speed limit?

That's a different question. But it is something we measure.

The survey found that:

* The percentage of car drivers breaking the speed limit on urban roads (where limit is less than or equal to 60kmh was 57pc (60pc in 2015).

* The percentage of car drivers breaking the limit on rural roads (where it's mainly 80kmh) was 22pc - the same as in 2015.

* Percentage of cars speeding on motorways increased from 21pc in 2015 to 23pc in 2016.

* And the percentage of cars speeding on dual carriageways increased from 28pc in 2015 to 34pc in 2016.

You can see a pattern starting to emerge here. The majority of drivers are choosing to speed on roads with lower speed limits. Roads that we share with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

If we look at other categories of vehicles such as trucks and buses, we can see again that speeding is a bigger problem in urban areas. For example:

* 55pc of all rigid and 55pc of all articulated trucks were speeding in urban areas compared with 36pc of rigid and 38pc of articulated trucks breaking the limits on rural roads.

* 38pc of all single decker buses were speeding in urban areas compared with 11pc on rural roads.

Over the next six weeks the RSA will be focusing on speed, in particular the problem of speeding in urban areas. It will include broadcasting our new anti-speeding ad which features singer Cathy Davey. The ad highlights the fact that if you speed in towns or cities you simply won't be able to keep up with what's happening around you or with what's happening on the road, as the ad dramatically shows when the driver knocks down a young girl and her brother crossing the road.

Our annual academic lecture takes place next Monday. It kicks off Irish Road Safety Week and we will hear from international and national experts on 30kmh limits. Rod King MBE founder of the '20's Plenty' campaign in the UK will be guest speaker and discussing the rollout of 20mph (30kmh) limits across the UK. More than 15 million people live in local authorities in the UK that have implemented 20mph speed limits in both urban and residential streets; 30kmh limits are becoming standard through the continent and we will get an update from the European Transport Safety Council.

Dublin City Council has pioneered the rollout of 30kmh limits and will provide a case study at the lecture, which I sincerely hope will be copied by other local authorities around the country. That's because 30kmh limits in our towns and cities means a safer, healthier, fairer, greener, prosperous, quieter and better quality of life for people. Don't believe me? Read those Free Speed survey results again.

Indo Motoring

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