Have you ever wondered about why driving to the Speed Limit is important? After a couple of recent experiences, I thought I’d find out why.

Over 220 people are killed on our roads each year from cars that are driving above the speed limit.
Over 200 people are killed each year by cars driving within the speed limit but wrongly for the conditions.
Over 143 accidents are caused each year by slow driving.

Over the last couple of weeks, life has decided that I need to be out of my hometown on a friday and so i’ve been utilising the M25 to get about. Now, it’s not my road of choice but it is the main way for me to get from my little home town of Southend on Sea to basically, most other places. Last friday I found myself driving up the A1(M), after exiting at junction 23, to a meeting and encountered a traffic jam. What I thought was a tad bit unusual was when I tried looking ahead of me, the cars in the fast lane dribbled to a crawl as I watched as cars in the slow lane zoomed past.

Memories bubbled to the surface: I can remember the police pulling my dad over for driving to slow, round the corner to our street, when I was a little girl. I found it funny because my sister – a little older – was mortified. A cyclist had passed our car-peddling at a greater speed than we were going. Now, I don’t know why my dad was driving so slowly and have laughed many times at the the thought of the incident but as an adult am aware of how dangerous this can be and this memory was fresh in my mind when I was observing what was happening as I drove along.

My thinking as I sat in the traffic told me, if there had been an accident then both lanes would have reduced to this snails pace. Not just one. I slid over to find out what was going on – a motorcyclist appeared in sight about 20 cars in front of me, driving in the right hand lane and after a while, slowly moved over to the left hand side of the road. There was nothing in front of him. The road was completely clear but there were many frustrated drivers building up behind him and this got me thinking.

So I decided to check out the ROSPA website – which is The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and find out a little more about the subject.

Who is ROSPA?

ROSPA is a charity which is on a mission to save lives and reduce accidents in the UK and have been doing so for almost 100 years. They have many different campaigns ongoing at the moment. One of them is the Young Drivers Campaign.

  • Britain has a good road safety record.

When you first pass your test, as a novice driver, you are more likely to be in an accident than someone more experienced. Lack of road experience is one of the main reasons. As is attitude but it is not just the young or the new driver who may be at risk or put others at risk. The guy driving the motorbike causing the problem above, did not seem a novice rider. Although he may well have been and was middle aged, not young. In previous years within the UK there has been talk of ‘slow speed’ cameras being introduced but as of yet, none have been.

Slow drivers need to be recognised as much a source of anxiety to other vehicle users in the UK as Speeders and they can cause a marked increase of stress and irritability when come across on our nations roads.

Surprisingly around two-thirds of crashes happen on roads with a speed limit of 30mph or less.

Types of Speed-related Crashes

A study 7 of collisions involving vehicles that were exceeding the speed limit or travelling at inappropriate speed, found:

Most collisions involved some loss of control of the vehicle, usually on a bend.

Collisions were more likely on unclassified rural roads, with excess speed being more likely on 30 mph roads, and inappropriate speed on 60 mph rural roads.

Male drivers under 30 years old, and especially under 21 years old, were more likely to be in speed-related collisions.

Drivers/riders of cars and motorcycles were more likely to be in speed-related collisions than drivers of other vehicles.

Drivers of older vehicles, sports cars and hatchbacks were also more likely to be in speed-related collisions, as were cars containing two or more occupants.

Drivers who crashed while exceeding the speed limit, were also more likely to be recorded as ‘aggressive driving’, ‘careless, reckless or in a hurry’, ‘impaired by alcohol’ and ‘stolen vehicle’, highlighting the link between excess speed and other types of risk-taking behaviour.

Drivers who crashed while travelling at inappropriate speed, are also more likely to be recorded as  ‘careless, reckless or in a hurry’, ‘vision affected by road layout’, ‘vision affected by rain, sleet, snow or fog’ and ‘slippery road (due to weather)’.

In the majority of cases, the vehicle in question was travelling too fast around a bend and swung wide or lost control. Other reasons included vehicles travelling around blind bends, or following other vehicles too closely. ROSPA Road Safety Advice

Being a new driver you might feel a little intimidated driving on a motorway for the first time. I know the first ever time I stopped on the hard shoulder, I didn’t have a clue how to get back on with the cars wizzing by. So it may even be worth it once you’ve passed your test to try out your driving skills on the motorways of the UK with your A Pass 4 U Driving Instructor. Helping you to build confidence if it is lacking and to take action and get on out there!

What have been your experiences of poor driving on the motorway?