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11/8/2007
UK: Most Rural Road Crashes Do Not Involve Speeding
UK Department for Transport admits under freedom of information request that 96 percent of rural road accidents did not involve speeding.

Rural speed camera
The overwhelming majority of crashes on rural roads in the UK were not caused by drivers exceeding the posted speed limit, according to a Department for Transport letter released yesterday. A total of two percent of rural road accidents in 2006 "very likely" involved a driver exceeding the limit. Another two percent "possibly" involved speeding. This means that 96 percent of accidents were caused by factors other than driving beyond the posted maximum limit.

"These figures make an absolute mockery of the speed camera program," said Safe Speed founder Paul Smith who requested the data under freedom of information laws. "We have long known that it had failed to save lives and this is why -- we never had a 'speeding problem' in the first place."

Smith said the department has been misleading the public by inflating speeding statistics to justify expanding the use of speed cameras. The department has claimed "one-third of crashes are caused by speeding" by including figures for the crashes involving driving under the posted limit but at a speed too fast for the conditions. The department's own figures show for fatal crashes that only seven percent were "very likely" to include speeding and five "possibly" did.

"It should be obvious to anyone who has examined the figures that a very large but unknown proportion of these fatal crashes involved extraordinary reckless behaviors and certainly not normal responsible motorists a few miles per hour over the speed limit," Smith said. "So the thrill seekers, the stolen cars, idiots motor racing on the highway and high speed drunks are all included. Once these groups -- who will always ignore speed limits -- are removed the number of speeding crashes left over for the rest of us is close to zero."

Smith called on the department to drop its speed camera initiative and refocus priorities on driver training to help address the "human factors" that are the true cause of rural road crashes. In 2005, Smith first uncovered contributory factor data that showed exceeding the posted limit was not a significant cause of accidents. A DfT report released last month also confirmed the findings.



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