September 29, 2020

The Editor Speaks: Speed kills and survival can be worse


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With another road death at the weekend where speed could have been a factor are we doing enough here to educate the public, especially the 17 – 29 years old bracket, the dangers of excessive speeding.

Is enough crash data collected by the RCIPS and do the officers who collect the data at the crash site have real crash investigation training?

The determination of excessive speeding is complex but it is something all drivers have to consider every time we get behind the wheel of our cars. It is very dangerous to drive at a speed excessive to the prevailing conditions and it is against the law to drive over the regulatory speed designations. But how many of us actually do obey the regulations?

The worst stretch of road for speed violations is the 25mph North Sound Road section between the Esterley Tibbetts roundabout and Shedden Road traffic lights. Hardly anyone keeps to it and even when the approaching light is red, cars will still overtake you if you are keeping to the speed limit.

Why do we do this?

Statistics have shown that 95% of all accidents involve some degree of driver behaviour combined with one of the other three factors. 1. Equipment failure.  2. Roadway design. 3. Poor maintenance. 4. Human behaviour. Humans tend to blame somebody or something else when a mistake or accident occurs. A recent European study concluded that 80% of drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents believed that the other party could have done something to prevent the accident. A miniscule 5% admitted that they were the only one at fault. Surveys consistently reveal that the majority consider themselves more skillful and safer than the average driver. Some mistakes occur when a driver becomes distracted, perhaps by a cell phone call or a spilled cup of coffee. Very few accidents result from an ‘Act of God,’ like a tree falling on a vehicle.

Speed Kills – The faster the speed of a vehicle, the greater the risk of an accident. The forces experienced by the human body in a collision increase exponentially as the speed increases. Smart Motorist recommends that drivers observe our 3 second rule in everyday traffic, no matter what your speed. Most people agree that going 100 mph is foolhardy and will lead to disaster. The problem is that exceeding the speed limit by only 5 mph in the wrong place can be just as dangerous. Traffic engineers and local governments have determined the maximum speeds allowable for safe travel on the nation’s roadways. Speeding is a deliberate and calculated behaviour where the driver knows the risk but ignores the danger. Fully 90% of all licensed drivers speed at some point in their driving career; 75% admit to committing this offense regularly.

Consider this example: a pedestrian walks out in front of a car. If the car is travelling at just 30 mph, and the driver brakes when the pedestrian is 45 feet away, there will be enough space in which to stop without hitting the pedestrian. Increase the vehicle speed by just 5 mph and the situation changes dramatically. At 35 mph, with the pedestrian 45 feet away and the driver braking at the same point, the car will be traveling at 18 mph when it hits the pedestrian. An impact at 18 mph can seriously injure or even kill the pedestrian.

Any accident where a car hits an immovable object is going to cause greater injury at every increase in speed.

Almost every qualified driver I know admits to some type of risky driving behaviour, most commonly speeding.

And a common behavioural tract among the young is racing, especially in the early hours of the morning and worse, under the influence of alcohol.

Consider the consequences of causing an accident due to driving at excessive speed. If you cause an accident you will have to live with the emotional consequences of deaths or injuries caused to others

And you might be the cause of your own injury – a loss of one of your limbs that you will have the legacy of for the rest of your life.

Why don’t these messages go out? Where is the education in our schools? Where are the adverts spelling out the dangers of speed?

There is more spent on the dangers of drug taking than the simple message – speed kills. And it maims. And the pain and injuries to you and others is horrific.


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