Many people think that speed cameras are there to make money and that police time is being wasted trapping and prosecuting 'innocent' drivers - time that could be better spent catching 'real' criminals. Statistically 'real' criminals rarely kill people, but speeding motorists do.

Over four times as many people die each year on our roads than do as a result of violent crime. It is important as a nation that our driving attitude and behaviour changes to prevent many unnecessary casualties and inexcusable deaths.

For pedestrians, the speed at which they are hit is the difference between life and death.

Vehicle speedPedestrians killed
20 miles per hour 5% of pedestrians are killed
30 miles per hour 20% of pedestrians are killed
40 miles per hour 90% of pedestrians are killed
Over 40 miles per hour Forget it

Source: Department for Transport 2005

Remember it's 30 for a reason.

Some speeding facts

  • Around two-thirds of all collisions where people are killed or injured happen on roads where the speed limit is 30 miles per hour or less.
  • 7 out of 10 drivers regularly break the speed limit - usually by about 5 miles per hour.
  • An average family car travelling at 35 miles per hour will need an extra 21 feet (6.4 metres) to stop than one travelling at 30 miles per hour.
  • If you hit a cyclist or pedestrian at 35 miles per hour the force of the impact increases by more than a third than at 30 miles per hour.
  • Reducing your speed by an average of 1 mile per hour will cut collision frequency by 5 per cent.
  • On urban roads 76 per cent of cars will exceed the speed limit if the road is clear.
  • It is not safer to drive faster at night. Casualty rates are double that during daylight hours due to the higher speeds because of less traffic, higher alcohol consumption, tiredness and darkness.

Stopping distances

Stopping distance is affected by a number of factors, including load, condition of the road surface, tyres, brakes, driver reactions and design and type of vehicle.

Speed (miles per hour)Thinking distanceBraking distanceTotal stopping distanceTotal (feet)
20 1.5 car lengths 1.5 car lengths 3 car lengths 40
30 2.5 car lengths 3.5 car lengths 6 car lengths 75
40 3 car lengths 6 car lengths 9 car lengths 120
50 3.5 car lengths 9.5 car lengths 13 car lengths 175
60 4.5 car lengths 13.5 car lengths 18 car lengths 240
70 5 car lengths 19 car lengths 24 car lengths 315

These figures assume dry weather and good tyres and an average family saloon. Naturally, stopping distances will vary according to weather conditions and some cars may perform in different ways.

There are many physical factors that can affect a car's stopping distance. What we want is for drivers to recognise that however good a driver they think they are and however good their car is, the difference between driving at 30 and driving a few miles per hour over the limit, will lead to a much longer stopping distance that could lead to drastic consequences.

More information on speed limits and how they are decided.

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