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COVID 19 - What’s speed got to do with it?

27 April 2020

In Britain there has been a run of stories in the media reporting cases of drivers being caught at extreme speeds and Police concerns that drivers think the lockdown is an excuse for taking unnecessary risks and treating empty roads “like race tracks”. But are they?

A blog from TRL highlights that evidence from previous studies shows that the majority (52%) of drivers are speed limit compliant while a third of drivers break the speed limit occasionally. However, one in seven drivers on Britain’s roads are classified as ‘excessive speeders’. Excessive speeders are drivers who regularly drive above 35, 40 or even 50 mph in a 30 mph limit, report driving at 80 in 60 mph limits and 90 in 70 mph limits. When asked what stops them driving any faster, excessive speeders are less likely to report feelings of safety or risk, as more compliant drivers do, and are instead simply motivated by avoiding detection by the police.

The blog emphasises that unfortunately, it looks like some people are engaging in some particularly dangerous driving behaviour, putting themselves and key workers on the roads at risk in doing so . However, creating an impression that many people are taking advantage of the quieter roads and speeding may risk contributing to a misperception of the social norm in the majority of drivers, and that could encourage some people to take more risks with their speed.

The blog which will be regularly updated is available here.

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