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UK: Exceeding Speed Limit Rarely Causes Accidents
A new UK Department for Transport report shows fewer than 5 percent of road accidents are caused by cars exceeding the speed limit.

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For the past decade, UK road safety policy has focused on legal compliance with posted speed limits as the most effective means of reducing the number of automobile accidents. Department for Transport statistics released today, however, show that fewer than five percent of accidents last year were caused by a motorist driving faster than the limit.

"Exceeding speed limit was attributed to 3 percent of cars involved in accidents, while going too fast for conditions was attributed to 7 per cent." (page 11)

Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign, points out that this means "around 95 percent of road crashes have absolutely nothing to do with speeding." Smith takes issue with the department's use of speed camera ticketing to achieve legal compliance, which last year resulted in two million citations worth £120 million (US $225 million) in revenue. "Nationally we're giving (motorists) the wrong safety information and forcing them to concentrate on the wrong safety factors."

According to today's report, the most common factors contributing to road accidents, in order, are:
  • Failed to look properly
  • Failed to judge other persons path/speed
  • Careless, reckless or in a hurry
  • Poor turn/maneuver
  • Loss of control
  • Going too fast for conditions (but under the posted limit)
  • Pedestrian failed to look properly
  • Following too close
  • Sudden braking
The department began collecting contributory factor data on road accidents on January 1, 2005. The new information covers 147,509 incidents from slight to severe to fatal. This is the first time that complete contributory factor data on UK accidents has been made available to the public.

Read the full report in a 921k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Contributory factors to road accidents (Department for Transport, 9/28/2006)

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