Drivers and riders who are travelling at inappropriate speeds – exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for the conditions – are more likely to crash and their higher speed means the crash will cause more severe injuries, to themselves and/or to other road users.
Why is speeding dangerous?
Exceeding the speed limit and travelling too fast for the conditions were assigned by police officers as contributing to 27% of fatal collisions in 2020, as well as 16% of collisions in which a serious injury occurred and 13% of total collisions.
In Great Britain in 2020, 202 people were killed in collisions involving someone exceeding the speed limit, with a further 1,368 people seriously injured and 2,803 slightly injured. A further 115 people died when someone was travelling too fast for the conditions.
Inappropriate speed also magnifies other driver errors, such as driving too close or driving when tired or distracted, increasing the chances of these types of behaviour causing a collision.
Do most crashes happen on high-speed roads?
No. Approximately two-thirds of all crashes in which people are killed or injured happen on roads with a speed limit of 30mph or less.
And in 2018, the majority of the 456 pedestrian fatalities and 5,782 serious casualties occurred on built-up roads. Cyclists are also vulnerable in built-up areas, with more than half of cyclist deaths (62 of 99) and serious cyclist casualties (3,402 of 3,707) occurring on built-up roads.
This is why the Department for Transport encourages traffic authorities to consider the introduction of more 20mph limits and zones, over time, in urban areas and built-up village streets that are primarily residential, to ensure greater safety for cyclists and pedestrians. RoSPA also encourages planners to pay attention to lower speeds in built-up areas, with active travel like walking and cycling promoted as a positive option.
What can be done to tackle speeding?
There is no doubt that inappropriate speed is one of the most serious road safety problems on Britain’s roads, causing death and injury to thousands of people each year.
A co-ordinated speed management strategy must include education, training and publicity (ETP), highway engineering and design, vehicle engineering, and enforcement measures. Information on the effectiveness of such interventions are covered in the downloadable resources on this page.
Based on our experience in fleet safety, we also know that employers have a powerful role to play in influencing employee driver attitudes and behaviour. Ultimately, all drivers and riders need to be persuaded that driving at inappropriate speeds is not a minor, technical offence that everyone commits, but a serious, dangerous and anti-social activity.
How can RoSPA help?
Free resources available to download from this page include:
- Advice to help drivers stay within the speed limit
- A factsheet on 20mph zones and limits – what’s the difference and how effective are they?
- A factsheet on speed cameras – what’s the evidence on their effectiveness?
- Further background information on inappropriate speed and the effectiveness of various interventions
- A Community Speed Complaint Guide advising on what individuals and groups can realistically expect to achieve when tackling local speed problems.
We also have a range of practical solutions for professionals involved in road safety management, including vehicle-activated speed signs and road safety engineering training. Our fleet driver training and the work of our volunteer RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders groups also address speeding.
Top ten tips to stay within the limit
Helping motorists to stay within the speed limit
20mph zones and speed limits
Providing detailed information on 20mph zones and limits
An in-depth guide to speed cameras
Information on inappropriate speed and its repercussions
RoSPA’s Community Speed Complaint Guide
A guide to assist those with concerns about speeding motorists in their community
Road safety engineering courses
Recognised training courses for road safety engineers and technicians
Fleet driver training
RoSPA has a range of training courses for those who get behind the wheel for work
RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders
More than 65 local groups prepare drivers and riders to take the ultimate Advanced Test