The difference between driving at 40mph and driving at 30mph can mean the difference between life or death.
It takes approximately 6 car lengths (23 metres) to stop a vehicle travelling at 30mph. But by driving at 40mph you are increasing that distance by 3 car lengths (that’s an extra 12 metres).
12 metres can mean the difference between being able to stop your vehicle or hitting a pedestrian – causing them serious injury or death.
A road collision isn’t always the drivers fault but the driver is the only person who can determine what speed they are travelling at should the worst happen.
So, what’s the issue with driving above a speed limit?
When you drive, it’s important to watch your speed at all times. Speed limits are the maximum speed you should travel at and often you need to drive a lot slower for the conditions.
Whether you’re near a school, on a quiet residential street or country lane, allowing yourself time to react in an emergency, can mean the difference between life and death.
There are many important factors to consider:
- other road users
- weather conditions
- time of day
- your concentration level
- the road surface
It can be very easy to make excuses for driving above the limit but should the worst happen, do any of these excuses sound reasonable?
Stopping distances explained:
The stopping distance is a combination of thinking time and braking distance and will depend on a number of factors including:
- your attention
- the road surface
- your vehicle
- weather conditions
So for example, if you are travelling at 40mph and have to brake in an emergency you have already travelled at least 3 car lengths (12 metres) before you even apply the brakes.
Below is an illustration of thinking and braking distance based on the speed you are travelling at.
Whether you’re a driver, cyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian, we all need to share the responsibility and do our bit to make our roads safer. Visit our website regularly and follow us on social media for updates on what we are doing and how you can do your bit to help to keep all road users safe.
Why not join us by taking The Pledge – our shared commitment to road safety.
Do you drive? Are you learning to drive? Are you planning to learn to drive?
If you have answered ‘yes’, then here’s a further question –
What if there were no speed limits in Merseyside, how fast would you drive?
Imagine driving along a road in your area and there were no speed limit signs, how would you know what speed to drive at. Think about it.
What information would you use to determine what a safe speed is?
All too often the answer given is, “I look for the speed limit sign to tell me what speed I should be driving at”, which is, of course, the wrong answer. A speed limit indicates the fastest speed that you may drive in the most perfect, safe conditions where there are no hazards. A hazard is anything that may contain an element of actual or potential danger.
Here are some examples:
- A line of parked vehicles that you are passing
- A number of children who are going to/coming out from school
- A stationary bus at a bus stop
- A car blocking a pavement to pedestrians
- A cyclist riding along the road ahead
- A wet road caused by heavy rain
- A ‘blind’ bend in the road
- A car stopped at a junction ahead of you
- A pedestrian waiting to cross the road
- A green traffic light signal
It’s not an exhaustive list but you get the picture – just about anything may be a hazard. When was the last time that you drove along a road where none of these were present?
As drivers, we often fall into the bad habit of looking for speed limit signs and using them to determine our speed rather than thinking ‘outside of our metal box’ and looking for hazards that will dictate our speed. This is likely to be due to complacency, particularly if you drive the same roads on a regular basis. What do you think about when you drive?
- What am I doing in work/college today?
- Last night’s football result was great!
- Looking forward to watching the next episode of X tonight?
- What’s for dinner?
What should you be thinking about whilst driving?
As a driver, you have to guard against complacency. Remember, it’s your responsibility to concentrate, focus and drive at an appropriate speed for the conditions. This may often mean driving at a speed below the posted speed limit.
One thing that you may be good at seeing is a bright yellow speed camera. There are numerous static and mobile safety cameras deployed across Merseyside. They influence the speed at which people drive (you do check your speed when you see one!) where there is a higher risk of collision or where communities report concerns for their safety due to speeding traffic.
There are national guidelines that determine how drivers are dealt with should they exceed the speed limit. For example:
- In a 20 mph speed limit, you may be offered a speed awareness course if you are driving between 24 and 31 mph.
- In a 30 mph, a course may be offered at between 36 and 42 mph.
- Above these speeds, you face a fixed penalty of £100 and 3 points on your driving licence.
You may still be prosecuted if you are detected driving at a lower speed or one that is below the speed limit if it is an inappropriate speed (not necessarily excessive) for the conditions. This may even be considered to be careless or even dangerous driving in some circumstances.