Safe Driving Speed Advice

Almost half of drivers are overtaking at lethal speeds on single carriageway rural roads with disregard for the consequences, research by Brake and Direct Line has revealed.

Of 942 drivers surveyed, 47% admit speeding at more than 60mph to overtake on country roads at least once in the past year, with 23% confessing doing this at least once a month. Incredibly, one in eight drivers also admit overtaking when they can't see what is coming in the opposite direction.

The results suggest that drivers continue to feel a false sense of security on rural roads, misguidedly believing that it is safe and enjoyable to drive at high speeds. In reality, drivers are much more likely to die on a rural road than any other type, with speed and overtaking major factors in causing deaths.

In Britain in 2009, 749 deaths occurred on single carriageway roads with a speed limit of 60mph - that's a third of all road deaths. Almost a third of people killed on single carriageways with a 60mph limit die in crashes where 'exceeding the speed limit' and/or 'travelling too fast for the conditions' are recorded as a factor by police at the scene. Last year an annual review of UK road risk found that the ten roads with the greatest concentration of fatal and serious crashes per kilometre are single carriageways.

Overtaking at speed is incredibly dangerous and the faster you are travelling the more likely you are to die if you crash head on. Research shows that the risk of the driver dying in a head on collision involving two cars travelling at 60mph is around 90%. Even at 50mph, the risk of death is still a very high 65%, showing that overtaking isn't worth the risk.

More often than not, carrying out this potentially deadly manoeuvre makes little difference to journey times. If you overtake a car travelling at 40mph, so that you can drive at 50mph on a five mile journey, you gain a maximum of 90 seconds, but you risk losing the rest of your life or someone else's.

Brake is calling on the Government to act to tackle the problem of drivers who overtake irresponsibly and speed on rural roads. They should do this by reducing the default speed limit on single carriageway roads to 50mph or lower, with lower limits on roads where there are particular risks. They should also continue to improve enforcement of speed limits, such as by using average speed cameras, and conduct widespread awareness campaigns to tackle the problematic culture of speeding and overtaking on rural roads.

The coalition government has yet to respond to a 2010 consultation on setting speed limits, which proposed that highways authorities should carry out speed limit reviews on 'A' and 'B' class national speed limit single carriageways and lower limits on rural roads where the risks are relatively high and there is evidence that a lower limit would reduce casualties. Click here to read the consultation and click here to read Brake's response.

Safe Driving Advice For Drivers

Country roads often have speed limits that are far too high, dangerous sharp bends, and unexpected hazards. You never know when a cyclist, horse rider or jogger will be round the corner or over the next brow.

Never risk overtaking on rural roads unless you are overtaking a very slow moving vehicle such as a tractor, the road is clear and straight, and you won't have to drive at excessive speeds or above the limit to do it. Otherwise, just hang back from the vehicle in front and enjoy the journey. You won't get there much quicker by overtaking, and you might not get there at all.

28 January 2011 Staff

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