Rather grumpily, at 7.45am yesterday morning, I signed in to my on line ‘Speed Awareness Course’ – the alternative I had been offered instead of points and a fine. My crime? Doing 24mph on a 20mph road at 8.30 on a Sunday morning.
The course was run by a group called TCC. Our ‘course leader’ was a charming lady called Emma who not only managed to make its two and a half hours pass remarkably quickly but convince all eight of us that speed really does kill and that what seem like ridiculous and irritating speed restrictions are really very sensible and should be observed.
So I thought I would share her reasoning….
Sadly, TCC do not provide a precis or set of bullet points to take away with you so I do not recall exactly all she said but matching my scribbled notes with a Google search still brought up a few pretty stark figures.
Kinetic energy and damage inflicted at various speeds.
- I don’t understand the physics but every extra mile per hour adds dramatically to the time it takes you to stop.
- This means that while a vehicle travelling at 20mph could stop in time to avoid a child running out three car-lengths in front, if that car was travelling at 35mph it could not stop in time and would hit the child at 18mph. (The same impact as a child falling from an upstairs window.)
- A crash at 30mph involves effectively twice as much energy and destructive potential as a crash at 20mph.
- The greater the impact speed, the greater the chance of death. A pedestrian hit at 30mph has a one in five chance of being killed. But if they are hit at 35mph this rises to one in three.
- The chances of being killed by being hit by a car are 1% at 20mph, 7% at 30mph and rise to over 30% at 40mph.
Time gained by increased speed
- Extraordinarily little.
- On short commuter runs of one or two miles, the time saved by travelling at 30mph instead of 20mph is seconds or at most a couple of minutes.
- Various studies have been done on longer trips which suggest that on a 100 mile trip you will only save 12 minutes by increasing your speed from 65mph to 75mph.
- On a 50 mile trip you would only save 5 minutes by uppping your speed from 70mph to 80mph.
- On shorter 15 miles trips the US Army reckoned that you could save:
- 5.72 minutes by increasing your speed from 35mph to 45mph
- a further 3 minutes in increasing it from 50mph to 60mph
- and a further 1.85 minute by increasing it from 65mph to 75mph.
Since, for those of us living in built up areas at least, the majority of our trips are probably only a couple of miles, saving a couple of minutes simply does not seem worth the risk.
Other random but relevant/useful facts I gleaned
- Not only does speeding save very little time, it is also disproportionately expensive. According to the Money Advice Service, driving at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than driving at 70mph.
- Driving more slowly helps to save the planet not only because it reduces engine emissions but because it reduces particle shedding from tyres.
- In 2020 27% of fatal collisions were caused by drivers exceeding the speed limit.
- 93% of accidents are caused by driver error
- And for those who struggle to work out what the speed limit actually is on country or small town roads, the secret clue is – street lights! No matter where you are, if there are street lights the speed limit in 30mph.