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9/18/2007
UK Report Shows Only 2 Percent of Accidents Caused by Speeding
UK Department for Transport report shows only two percent of accidents among drivers over 25 are caused by exceeding the speed limit.

House of Commons committee meeting
Only two percent of road accidents were caused by adult drivers exceeding the posted speed limit, according to the UK Department for Transport (DfT). The figures were provided earlier this year in an official report to the House of Commons Select Committee on Transport regarding the impact of novice drivers. The DfT based its analysis on 147,509 accidents ranging in severity from slight to fatal.

"In 2005, for the first time, the Department collected data on contributory factors to road traffic accidents," the report stated. "Several of these factors are attributed to drivers up to the age of 25 in much higher proportions of cases than for older drivers."

The report showed that even among the youngest drivers, aged 17-19, only eight percent of accidents were caused by exceeding the posted speed limit. The more prominent factors were "loss of control," accounting for nineteen percent of accidents; "careless, reckless or in a hurry," accounting for fourteen percent; "traveling too fast for the conditions," fourteen percent; and "slippery road due to weather," at twelve percent.

The factors drop correspondingly as the age brackets changed to cover more experienced drivers. The figure for exceeding the posted speed limit drops to six percent among drivers aged 17-25 and to just two percent for drivers above age 25. Road safety expert Paul Smith, founder of Safe Speed, points out that UK government officials previously claimed one-third of accidents were "speed related" to justify the installation of more than six thousand speed cameras throughout the country.

"Recent road safety policy has been founded on a gross misunderstanding of road safety fundamentals," Smith explained. "We have never had a national problem with speeding. To get road safety back on track, DfT must admit that it has been chasing rainbows; pull the plug on the failed speed camera program and refocus national efforts on improving driver quality and effective roads policing."

The figures match those that Smith discovered buried deep in the DfT report Contributory Factors to Road Accidents released last year (view report). Younger motorists, aged 18 to 21 account for just three percent of licensed drivers in the UK.

"Problems associated with young drivers mainly represent skills or attitude shortfalls in a minority of inexperienced drivers," Smith said. "It is unreasonable to claim that speed cameras could address this problem to any significant degree. For the rest of us, speed cameras are a dangerous distraction at best."

Source: Evidence Submitted to the Select Committee on Transport (UK Department for Transport, 7/19/2007)

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