Fleet News

Special report: speeding – is it REALLY worth all the hassle?

ARGUMENTS over speeding and the use of deterrents reached new levels this year when death threats were issued against campaigners who supported anti-speed schemes – but is their anger clouding their judgement?

Mary Williams, chief executive of road safety charity Brake, called in police after being singled out by anti-camera campaigners in January.

The charity confirmed its founder had been the subject of alleged death threats that appeared on a website for sports car enthusiasts.

It was reported that one member suggested she be 'knocked off' or have her brake cables cut and another described her as a 'witch who should be burned at the stake'.

Admittedly, anger over the explosion in speed control schemes has grown in recent years, especially as campaigners claim it is not speed that kills, but bad driving.

m But research carried out by Fleet News suggests the wrong questions are being asked. Drivers should stop asking: 'why do they stop us speeding?' and instead ask 'is it really worth it?'.

In-depth analysis of a range of journeys covering local roads, dual carriageways and motorways suggests speeding just isn't worth it in terms of time saving.

At its most basic level, on the majority of long journeys, the most time you could save by speeding at the most reckless level would barely cover the time needed to take off your coat and fire up your computer.

In reality, speeding will only cut your journey by a few minutes. For example, driving from Peterborough to Slough at the posted speed limits should take 1hr 44mins. If, like many drivers, you drove at 90mph on motorways, your journey time would drop to 1hr 29 mins, a 15-minute saving – but only with no traffic and no hold-ups.

Take another journey, this time from Reading to Birmingham, a 98.5-mile run taking 1hr 50mins at the legal limits. If you drove at 80mph whenever you hit a motorway, the journey time would drop by just six minutes, and at 90mph by 11 minutes. But once again, this is on a clear road at average speeds.

Even doing 100mph would only cut 18 minutes from the journey. Speeding in built-up areas at 50mph instead of 30mph would save four minutes.

If you drove like a lunatic, doing 100mph on the motorway, 70mph in 60mph zones and 50mph in 30mph zones, you would still only cut 30 minutes off the journey if the road was completely empty, there were no hold-ups and you didn't get lost.

In a real-world round trip of 230 miles, a Fleet News test driver managed a trip from Peterborough to Southend-on-Sea in just under two hours at the posted speed limits. On the return journey, even driving as fast as possible, the driver still took the same amount of time.

The reason is clear. Although overtaking a lorry on a busy road may make you feel you are making up time, the actual benefit to your journey is less than two seconds.

Does speeding work?

Peterborough to Slough 93.1 miles
At speed limit – 1hr 44 mins
90mph on m-way - 1hr 29mins
Max time saving – 15 mins

London to Edinburgh 404 miles
At speed limit – 6hrs 23 mins
80mph on m-way – 5hrs 46mins
90mph on m-way – 5hrs 17mins
Max time saving – 1hr 06mins

Reading to Birmingham 98.5 miles
At speed limit – 1 hr 50 mins
80mph on m-way – 1hr 44mins
90mph on m-way – 1hr 39mins
100mph on m-way – 1hr 32mins
100mph on m-way, 70mph major roads, 50mph minor roads – 1hr 19mins
Max time saving – 31 mins

'Cameras cause more road deaths' claim

CAMPAIGNERS who are calling for fewer speed cameras have warned that they actually encourage motorists to drive more dangerously, because they are constantly checking their speed.

According to Safe Speed, the campaign for 'genuine' road safety, drivers spend so long looking at their instruments to keep below posted limits when there are speed cameras that they are effectively 'driving blind'.

Its research is based on a straight single-carriageway A-road, with a 50mph speed limit.

Looking at a camera positioned 100 yards before a crossroads, which is highly visible and when traffic is light during daylight hours, a driver would lose up to 67% of road observation checking the speedo five times at 50mph. Checking just once would reduce observation time by 13%.

The Safe Speed website says: 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions and so it is with speed cameras. Good intentions abound and yet the road to hell is right outside your door.'

According to Safe Speed, there is a clear tendency for road deaths to increase where speed cameras are most used.

The top four speeding fine areas (Essex, Lancashire, Thames Valley and Derbyshire) collectively saw road deaths increase between 2002 and 2003 by 12.2% from 376 to 422, despite issuing almost 600,000 speeding tickets between them, Safe Speed claimed.

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    Time trial backs M-ways

    DRIVERS often argue that they can save time by switching roads as part of their plan to cut minutes from their journeys, but real-world research has shown there is little benefit.

    Three road testers took cars from Peterborough to Whitby, taking a variety of routes.

    The first focused on the A1, including stretches of motorway, while the second stuck to larger A-roads and the third to smaller A-roads.

    The first driver covered 169 miles in a total of 3hrs 36 mins, at an average speed of 48.9mph.

    Because the journey was by motorway, it felt relatively slow, especially at the speed limit, and roadworks at 48 miles slowed things down. The driver also got stuck behind a tanker.

    The second driver covered 162 miles and took 4 hrs 17 mins, 45 minutes longer, but mainly due to lorries and bad weather, averaging 37.8mph.

    The third driver had to cover 173 miles and took 4hrs 21 mins, again down to roadworks, so averaged 39.7mph.

    The test proved that although the motorway driver was stuck in traffic and it felt as if the journey was taking longer than it should, she was faster, even having stopped for a coffee break.

    Survey dispels the myth of the speeding company car driver

    THE image of the stressed executive 'flooring' the accelerator of his company car down the outside lane of the motorway to make that crucial meeting is fiction, according to an analysis of speeding trends of more than 50,000 fleet drivers.

    Company car drivers are among the most speed-conscious motorists, despite the fact that they are statistically more likely to spend longer behind the wheel than the average drivers, according to findings of leading fleet management company Interleasing, which obtained the results using its accident management software.

    From a sample of 50,000 drivers, only 8% received a speeding fine in the past six months.

    The ProAct analysis also reveals speed limits were on average exceeded by 12 mph.

    The findings appear at odds with those of the Government figures that suggest that almost 60% of motorists exceeded the motorway speed limit travelling faster than 80 mph.

    The Interleasing figures reveal that only 1% of drivers were penalised for breaking the 70 mph limit.

    The figures also counter claims made last week by drivers themselves, when seven in 10 drivers interviewed by Autoglass claimed to have broken the law to make up lost time after being held up by traffic calming measures (Fleet NewsNet, July 8).

    The latest research from Interleasing suggested the areas where most of the speeding offences took place were Thames Valley, London and the West Midlands. Between them, these areas also have the highest density of speed cameras in the UK.

    Diarmuid Fahy, accident services manager at Interleasing said: 'Speeding is a very important issue, but it has become one of the main focuses of the driving debate, mainly because of the arguments for and against speed cameras.

    'Our figures reveal that excessive speed is only a predominant issue for fleet managers because of the administrative issues of sorting out fines.

    'The only lesson a driver learns when he or she is caught on a speed camera is not to get caught there again. Just because the vast majority of drivers in the survey were not speeding does not mean they were driving well. The focus should be on education as to good driving practice, of which speed is one element,' he added.

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