Monday, 20 August 2012

Why Bother with Speed Limits

Yesterday myself and family, which consisted of my Daughter, Son-in-law, and two Granddaughters (15 and 20 years old), all took a ride out from Christchurch, Dorset, to The Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset.  A good fun day was had by all.

On the way there we were all playing word games to make the journey seem quicker and more fun so I wasn't paying any attention to the actual drive.  But on the way home being I was seated middle hump in the back seat, with a Granddaughter each side, and both having promptly fallen asleep one on each of my shoulders as we set off, I was able to view the dashboard with ease.

My Son-in-law is not a "crazily" dangerous driver but I certainly don't see him as a good driver.  His job takes him all over the UK, including Scotland and Ireland and he has clocked up an amazing amount of miles in his 40 odd years of driving experience.  However, as do the majority of drivers in this country, he chooses what is safe driving and not what the law says is safe driving, which makes for sometimes a very uncomfortable, and often times, a nervous ride for a passenger.

Normally as his passenger if I am getting a bit nervous of his speed or of his tail gating the vehicle in front I will ask him to drop back or slow down.  This he will do for a short while but it doesn't take long before he is driving once again in his own fashion.  As a Mother-in-law one can only comment very occasionally on a Son-in-law's driving before he would feel like throwing me out of the window.  So I reserve my comments for when my stomach is tied in knots with fear.

Yesterday however, on the ride back home I kept my mouth shut all the way home simply to keep a watch and take note of his speed.

The journey was all on main arterial roads, which means unless otherwise stated the speed limit is 60mph.   The roads were also fairly quiet and steady with no hold ups.   Below is what I noticed.  Each of the speeds recorded were his steady speeds.  Not simply occasional speeding.

30mph = 38 - 41mph
40mph = 50 - 53mph
50mph = 59 - 63mph
60mph = 68mph
70mph (duel carriageway) = 75 - 82mph

He did slow down on a 50mph sharp bend to 53mph at one time though, so give him his due there.  He also slowed down each time there was a traffic camera warning sign.

As you can see, each speed limit is being broken at all points by at least 10mph.

Now, this isn't just my Son-in-law driving this way.  With all other traffic we were amongst, the majority of drivers were doing the same speeds both in front of us and behind.   Very rarely were we actually overtaking anything.

The normal in this country on wide straight arterial roads, even when driving through built up areas, seems to be 10 miles over the set, lawful, speed limits.

At one point we passed through a 30mph stretch of road with many cars all driving way over the limit with the 30mph sign frantically flashing to warn drivers they were over the limit in an area where there might be children.  No one slowed down!

Speeding is the major cause of deaths on our roads.  Speed limits are there for a reason in any particular area, yet our journey yesterday proved that the vast majority of motorists totally ignore them.   Not the occasional driver, but the "vast majority".

The speed limits in this country are obviously set too high.  They need to be brought down "now" as a matter of urgency.  Motorists will always speed, but they do seem to follow a constant 10mph over the limit as being acceptable.  Maybe if all limits were brought down by 10mph it would at least give a bit more of a safety zone.


  1. We see the same thing here. I like to drive the set limit, which frustrates many behind me.

  2. My eldest Granddaughter and one of my Nephews also drive to the set limits. All others of my family do speed when they can get away with it.

    I will say this for them all though. I have never seen any of them either jump a red traffic light or pull into an ASL. It's just their speeding and being too close to the car in front that really tees me off with them.

  3. It does seem to be a national thing. I remember driving at the limit of 30mph and having a van behind honk his horn at me for not speeding. Crazy, isn't it?

    The police often tell councils not to lower speed limits as they can't enforce them. But they don't seem to enforce the current limits either, so why not lower them anyway?

  4. Out of interest, does your S-i-L have points on his license? Ever served out a ban? Does he pay a high premium for insurance?

    Another point: I would really like to compare the "danger" of the average motorist's speeding and the average cyclist's red-light jumping. I have an inkling it is the speeding motorist that is responsible for more and worse injuries and fear of the road.

    1. No, he has never been caught speeding, but then I think it's not so much his personal speeding as much as when he is speeding he is speeding on roads where all are speeding. Therefore simply keeping up with all other traffic.

      He has always had a spotlessly clean licence. Including never illegally parking.

  5. I'm also interested to know the degree of "driver rage" that your granddaughters, as passengers are exposed to. As a dad myself I make a great effort not to winge and moan about other drivers when my children are in the car. I don't want them to become intolerant road users.

    I'm sure that other children and teenagers are exposed to a low level of "rage" from the driver: "what on earth is that car doing?" and palpable frustration. It would obviously be better if drivers commented on other road users unusual behaviour as they do the weather or other road conditions.

    At the weekend a 14-year-old girl said on twitter "I'd really love to run over a cyclist in Cambridge" or similar. This was, it turns out prompted as she'd been a car passenger when her father nearly hit a careless young cyclist. I'm wondering if his cursing of Cambridge cyclists' behaviour lead to that tweet.

    1. Road rage?? Never! My Son-in-law is a very placid driver, a very gentle man all round. I can honestly say I have never heard him complain about any other road user. Even if cut up or forced to break hard he takes it all in his stride. I've never even heard him swear.


If you do not wish to log in to comment, please choose from the drop down menu "name/url" - You do not need to add an url but I would appreciate a name rather than choosing anonymous. Thank you friends.