Drivers are being urged to slow down to protect children on foot and bicycle, as research out today by Brake and Direct Line reveals the extent to which speeding in communities has become ingrained in many people’s regular driving habits, especially young and male drivers.
More than half of young drivers  (52%) speed at 35mph+ in 30mph limits at least weekly, compared to 34% of older drivers. Nearly half of male drivers (46%) speed at 35mph+ in 30mph limits at least weekly, compared to 27% of female drivers (full results below). Brake is warning these speeds make our communities risky places for people, children in particular, to walk and cycle, and is appealing to all drivers to slow down to help families get out and about safely during the holidays and year-round.
Brake and Direct Line are urging drivers to Pledge to not only stay within limits, but slow down to 20mph or below around homes, schools and shops: a life-saving act that helps protect the vulnerable.
Driving just ‘a bit’ faster dramatically increases stopping distances, reducing the chance of being able to stop in time in an emergency (see facts below). At 20mph, if a child stepped out three car lengths ahead, you should just be able to stop. But at 30mph or faster, you would barely have time to hit the brakes before hitting the child with a significant chance of seriously maiming or killing them.
Ellen Booth, Brake senior campaigns officer, said:“Children make mistakes on roads, so it’s vital drivers are always ready to stop in an emergency. Don’t fool yourself that you can handle faster speeds: slowing down to 20mph or less around schools and homes is essential in giving yourself time to react, and allowing families to walk and cycle without fear. If we want to encourage greener, healthier lifestyles then making our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists is critical, and all drivers can play a part in this. At the same time, we’re appealing to government to invest in more 20mph limits, appealing to local authorities everywhere to implement these life-saving and life-enabling schemes as widely as possible.”
Andy Goldby, Director of Motor Underwriting and Pricing for Direct Line Car Insurance, said: “Speed is one of the biggest killers on our roads and speed limits are there for a reason. Whilstparents can teach children how to cross the road safely and warn them of the dangers when out playing, the lives of their loved ones are very much in the hands of drivers and whether or not they are willing to slow down. Speed limits are a maximum and not a ‘must do’. Gauging the conditions and situation is not just the responsibility of pedestrians, drivers have a responsibility too; they need to drive as they’d want others to if their child was playing nearby.”
In 2010, 57 children were killed on UK roads and 2,540 were seriously injured , including life-changing injuries like brain damage, limb loss and paralysis. Around six in ten were on foot or bike at the time . Slowing down helps prevent these tragedies, and allows families to walk and cycle without fear, enabling healthier, greener lifestyles.
Calls for government action:
Brake is calling for more 20mph as standard around homes, schools and shops, to make communities safer, greener, happier places. Brake wants more local authorities to follow the lead of places like Portsmouth, Islington and Liverpool, where 20mph limits have been (or are being) introduced extensively.
Brake is calling on the government to improve its speed limit guidance for local authorities to make it easier to implement lower limits, and to direct increased funding for 20mph limits and other measures to make walking and cycling safer.
The survey of 942 drivers by Brake and Direct Line found that:
- Overall, 72% of drivers admit speeding at 35mph or more in a 30mph limit at least once in the past year, while 36% admit doing this weekly.
- Young drivers, age 17 – 24, speed at 35mph or more in a 30mph limit more frequently than older drivers, with more than half (52%) doing this weekly or more, compared to a third of older drivers (34%).
- Male drivers are far more likely to take this risk regularly than women, with nearly half (46%) admitting to driving at 35mph+ in a 30mph zone weekly or more, compared to just over four in 10 (27%) women. One in nine male drivers (11%) admit breaking 30mph limits by 5mph or more every day, compared to 2% of women.
- Young drivers are more likely to risk speeding in 30mph limits overall, with 80% of young drivers admitting to speeding at 35mph+ in a 30mph limit at least once in the past year compared to 71% of older drivers. Males also showed a greater level of speeding overall: 78% of males admitted speeding by 5mph or more in a 30mph limit compared to 67% of females.
Facts – speed in communities As your speed increases, stopping distances increase at a greater rate.At 20mph, your stopping distance is at least 12 metres or three car lengths. Increase your speed to 30mph and the stopping distance almost doubles, to at least 23 metres or six car lengths. At 40mph it will take you a whopping 36 metres or nine car lengths to stop: compared with your stopping distance at 20mph, your speed has doubled but your stopping distance has trebled.
In other words, small increases in speed mean big increases in stopping distance. It will take you much longer to stop even if you only increase your speed by a little bit.
A study of 20mph zones in London showed they are incredibly effective at reducing casualties. The introduction of 20mph zones led to a 41.9% reduction in road casualties, after allowing for trends. There was a 50.2% reduction in children aged 0 – 15 killed or seriously injured. There was no evidence of casualty migration to adjacent roads, where casualties also fell by an average of 8% .
Some local authorities, such as Portsmouth, have introduced 20mph limits on all residential roads, excluding main commuter routes, achieving reduced average speeds and widespread support from residents .
Case study Amber Nell Bo Yee Lok, 13, was crossing the road outside her house in the early evening of 29 January 2005. It was a 30mph road in a well-lit, built-up area. Amber’s mother heard a loud bang outside. She looked out to see Amber lying in the road. Amber died later in hospital. Amber was an organ donor and helped save the lives of five others. The driver was fined £750 for ‘careless driving’. Since Amber’s death, Dionne has campaigned for traffic calming in the area, and set up a local community initiative, the Amber Project, to help raise awareness about road safety.
Amber’s mother Dionne Sheen, from Salford, says:“I won’t ever get over Amber’s death. She was my little girl and her death is with me every day. Drivers need to take responsibility behind the wheel and make a commitment to driving at 20mph or less in residential areas, around schools and in town centres where there are pedestrians and cyclists. I am joining Brake’s campaign urging all drivers to slow down and look out for children this Easter holiday, to help stop the intolerable death toll on our roads. Please think of Amber and make the Brake Pledge to drive safely this Easter and year-round.”
Anyone who has been bereaved or seriously injured in a crash can call the Brake helpline for support on 0845 603 8570.
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 65 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (19-25 November 2012), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.
Road crashes are not accidents; the use of the term ‘accident’ undermines work to reduce road risk and causes insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by selfish drivers who take risks on roads.
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