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Casual speeders – we should talk about them more

2 August 2023

  • 87% of car drivers exceed a 20mph limit*

  • 48% of car drivers exceed the speed limit in a 30mph zone – rising to 55% at weekends*

  • 48% of car drivers exceed the limit on a motorway*

It’s true that young, male drivers represent a higher risk when it comes to inappropriate speed and the collisions that can be the result. But by focusing on these drivers, it’s easy to overlook the ‘casual speeder’.

This is someone just like you and me, going about their daily routine, either for business or pleasure, travelling to work or a customer, taking the kids to school or doing their weekly shop.

The casual speeder won’t see themselves as a law breaker or a person that needs any driver education, because in their eyes the speed wasn’t excessive or for a prolonged period. They weren’t racing their mates or showing off to a passenger. But this person can prove to be just as dangerous. They are often guilty of complacency and a lack of awareness of the impact of their speed choices, and their excuses can range from the speed limit being ‘inappropriate’ to ‘feeling pressure from the driver behind to go faster’.

Leaving personal opinions to one side, reduced speed limits are in place for a number of good reasons – including protecting vulnerable road users, stopping in a shorter distance and reducing the chance of major trauma if a collision occurs. This could be a 20mph zone through a residential area where there will be a higher proportion of children and cyclists, or a new 40mph zone in a rural area to raise awareness of dangerous bends or hills.

So what to do about the casual speeder? Education is the key.

When drivers have a greater understanding of why limits are in place, they are more inclined to stay within the limit, giving themselves the best chance of stopping in time, or minimising the impact speed in the event of a collision.

If they also have an insight into the type of person they are, and understand how inherent character traits influence their decision making, they will be able to recognise when their speed choices are likely to compromise safety.

Looking at the feedback from delegates who’ve attended Driver Hire’s training courses, the three standout comments regarding use of speed have been that drivers were not aware of:

  1. How attitude plays a part in correct speed choices
  2. Why different limits are in force and
  3. How even a small increase in speed can have a dramatic affect on stopping distance and impact speed

If training drivers can have a positive effect in the reduction of incidents, days lost off work and repair costs, then surely a fleet manager will consider it money very well spent.

*Vehicle speed compliance statistics for Great Britain: 2021 – GOV.UK (