Let’s talk about SPEED
Speeding – all drivers have done it. Whilst cruising along in our vehicles, there is often the temptation to push a little harder on the accelerator to get us to our destination sooner. Speeding is a common behaviour, but it’s also a dangerous one. Within this blog, I would like to reveal some alarming statistics and explain how speeding can affect personal injury claims – which may make you think twice about your driving.
Why speeding is a problem
Speed limits are implemented primarily to improve road safety and to reduce the number of casualties from traffic collisions. When we exceed speed limits, we put ourselves and others at risk.
Many will remember the striking ‘Think!’ campaign advert from 2006 featuring the little girl who had been hit by a car. She said: “If you hit me at 40mph, there’s around an 80% chance I’ll die. Hit me at 30mph, there’s around an 80% chance I’ll live.” I still think of that advert to this day. It clearly demonstrates that speed limits are there for a reason.
By driving too fast we reduce the amount of time we have to react to a hazards and unexpected situations. Speeding also increases the distance it takes for us come to a complete stop. Driving at an excessive speed will also create a more severe impact.
Consequences of speeding
The most concerning consequence of speeding is the potential to cause serious injuries or fatalities. It’s all too easy to think “I’m a good driver” and “it will never happen to me”, but it can, and it does. Increasing your speed increases the risk of a crash. It’s that simple.
Here’s some eye-opening statistics:
- Five people die on the UK roads every day.
- One in four fatal crashes involve someone who is driving too fast.
- Every 1mph increase in speed increases crash frequency by 5%.
Those who suffer injuries in collisions can suffer long-term pain, be prevented from working, require ongoing care and treatment and be prevented from continuing with day-to-day activities and hobbies. For the driver, living with the guilt of having caused someone such pain or grief can be a huge burden to carry.
Speeding can have other serious consequences. It is the most common motoring offence and offenders can be issued with fines and penalty points on their licence. Serious or repeated violations can result in licences being suspended. Also, insurance companies will often increase the premiums of those caught speeding.
In addition to the offence of speeding itself, there are other offences which drivers who speed may find themselves guilty of. These include dangerous driving, careless driving, causing death by dangerous or careless driving and causing serious injury by dangerous or careless driving. The penalties for these offences will vary depending on the gravity of the offence. The most serious offences result in imprisonment.
How speeding can affect personal injury claims
Those injured in road traffic collisions through no fault of their own will often look to recover compensation for the injuries and losses that they have suffered.
An injured person hit by a speeding driver is likely to find it easier to establish the driver was at fault. The fact that the driver was speeding does not necessarily mean that they will be found liable for the collision, although it is persuasive – all of the circumstances of the incident will need to be taken into consideration.
Similarly, if an injured person was speeding themselves when a crash occurred, this will not automatically mean they are to blame and cannot bring a claim. However, a reduction for their own ‘contributory negligence’ may be applied. This lowers the level of damages awarded to reflect the victim’s own culpability.
Promoting safer driving habits
Safer driving habits need to be promoted in order to reduce the prevalence of speeding and its consequences. This can be done in a variety of ways. Increased police patrols, use of speed cameras and enforcement of penalties can be a strong deterrent. Also, speeding can now be prevented with the use of technology, such as cruise control and speed limiters, to help drivers avoid the temptation to travel too fast.
Arguably the most important strategy to reduce speeding is through education and awareness. The public needs to be reminded of the dangers of speeding and taught why reducing speed saves lives.
We at Bolt Burdon Kemp work closely with road safety charity, Brake, a national charity dedicated to stopping road deaths and injuries. They also support people affected by road crashes and campaign for safe mobility for everyone. Like Brake, we believe speed is a critical issue for safety on our roads and is one that must be discussed.
Laura Challis, Corporate Partnerships Manager at Brake, had this to say about the partnership between the charity and our firm:
“After 28 years of campaigning for safer roads and supporting road victims, we have big ambitions we hope to deliver in the coming year to make a difference in road safety and road victim support. Our work is made possible through the support of organisations like Bolt Burdon Kemp, who help to fund us and share in our belief that nobody should be killed or seriously injured on UK roads. We are delighted to have them by our side, sharing and supporting the work we do.”
We will continue with our support of Brake in order to help influence positive change in a variety of road safety issues including speed.
We as drivers should all take personal responsibility for the way in which we drive. Arriving at our destination a few moments earlier does not justify the potential harm that we risk when we speed. We must all work together to educate each other, reduce the level of speeding and promote safer roads for everyone.