Fleet News

Police chief calls for speed review

ONE of Britain’s most senior police officers is demanding a ‘root-and-branch’ reform of every speed limit in the UK as part of a determined effort to stop drivers breaking the law.

North Wales chief constable Richard Brunstrom, who is also head of road policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers, has warned that the current war of words over speed cameras is undermining the credibility of laws to make drivers slow down.

In a wide-ranging call for all organisations involved in transport, including fleets, to encourage respect for the law, Brunstrom said: ‘We need a culture of voluntary compliance with the law, but now the vast majority of drivers feel it is right and appropriate to ignore speed limits.

‘What gives me the right to ignore the law? This whole issue is about the rule of law.

‘There is no excuse for breaking speed limits, but the solution is not ever-greater enforcement. We need a root- and-branch reform of every speed limit in the UK, because if it is the duty of every citizen to obey the law, then they have to respect it in the first place. It has to have credibility and we do not have that.’

Brunstrom, speaking at the annual lunch of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) in London, took some of the blame himself for the fact that the national debate about speeding was almost totally focused on the role of speed cameras, saying those involved had ‘got their fingers burnt’.

Few people realise that speed limits are put in place for a number of reasons, not just safety, he said. There were three core reasons behind speed limits, covering safety, managing traffic flow and reducing noise pollution for nearby residents.

Unfortunately, the debate had become mired in the safety arguments for speed cameras.

But despite the ongoing rows about the issue of speeding, Brunstrom said he had no apologies to make about strict enforcement of speed limits. Brunstrom said: ‘This is not a game. It is about life and death. There is no such thing as an accident, because 95% of crashes are caused by human error. Driving to a higher standard has got to be a good aim because every fixed penalty ticket my officers issue is considered a failure.

‘We need to encourage better driving standards with the police saying that if you choose to break the law, you will have to mix it with my officers.’

During his speech, Brunstrom welcomed the work of the IAM, saying it had a valuable role to play in driving up standards.

John Maxwell, chairman of the IAM, warned guests that driver alienation was not in the interest of road safety.

He said: ‘Car drivers and motorcyclists are not just part of the problem. They need to be part of the solution. Treat them fairly and get them on-side and there will be a rapid pay-back.’

Their comments come as the fleet industry considers the impact of the Road Safety Bill, details of which were revealed last week (Fleet NewsNet, December 2).

It included even stiffer penalties for drivers who significantly exceed the speed limit.

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