Research from Brake and Direct Line Motor Insurance finds that six in ten drivers (61%) admit driving at dangerously high speeds (80mph+) on motorways, with one in four (23%) doing so at least once a week – increasing risks and contributing to congestion.
Vehicles travelling at 80mph or more take far longer to stop and will hit harder in a collision. Evidence also shows that driving above the speed limit on motorways leads to increased differential speeds, affecting ‘flow’ and causing congestion.
The survey of 942 drivers also revealed that more than half of drivers (54%) are failing to leave a big enough gap (by counting two seconds) between them and the vehicle in front when driving on motorways – leaving them insufficient braking space in a crisis. One in four (22%) admitted to breaking the two second rule at least weekly.
Many drivers believe motorways are safer than other roads because there are fewer hazards such as pedestrians and cyclists. However, although fewer crashes happen on motorways because of the way these roads are designed, motorway crashes are more likely to result in multiple deaths and serious injuries because of the high speeds involved.
If a driver crashes on a motorway, there is a 40% greater chance it will result in death or serious injury than a crash on other types of road. One in five fatal crashes on motorways involves four or more vehicles.
Recently released casualty figures show that there were 132 deaths and 858 serious injuries on Britain’s motorways in 2009 – that’s nearly three people killed or suffering serious injury on motorways every day.
Exceeding the 70mph speed limit means braking distances increase dramatically, lessening your chance of being able to stop in time in an emergency.
Julie Townsend, Brake’s campaigns director, said: “You might think you’re saving time, but if you speed on motorways you contribute to congestion, and increase your risk of a catastrophic crash. For every mph you drive faster, you dramatically increase your stopping distance, impeding your ability to stop in a crisis. We have all experienced jams caused by motorway crashes, and we often try to bury the thought of the horrors that have occurred. Addressing motorway speeding is vital if we hope to tackle these violent deaths and life-shattering injuries. It’s time we all acknowledged that speeding is not without its consequences – and committed to sticking to limits on motorways.”
Andy Goldby, Director of Motor Underwriting at Direct Line, said: “It may be very tempting for drivers to put their foot down on the motorway, however, as the findings from our research shows, they need to cut their speed and increase the distance between themselves and the vehicle in front. Many drivers admit to speeding as they are in a rush to get to their destination, but speeding can end up causing traffic congestion! So by simply planning their journey, driving at a consistent speed within the limit and giving themselves plenty of time, drivers can reduce both the risk of being late or not getting there at all.”