London, 3 June 1999.
For immediate release.

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Fallacy of "Speed Kills" Exposed by Authoritative Report
First Proper Investigation of Accident Causation Backs ABD Position
For many years, the ABD has pointed out that no detailed reseach had been done to establish the real causes of road accidents, and that, in particular, there was no justification for the oft quoted government assertion that "one-third of accidents are caused by excessive speed".

Now, the Transport Research Laboratory has undertaken this long overdue piece of research (Report 323).

Their findings, when analysed by ABD researchers, show conclusively why recent government road safety policy based almost exclusively on 'Speed Kills' propaganda, has been so ineffective at reducing casualties. Key findings were:

"This report clearly shows why road casualties are not improving" says ABD spokesman Mark McArthur Christie.
"The Government have ignored their critics and pushed ahead with speed reduction policies which fail to address the causes of 96% of road accidents. Their basis for doing this was nothing more than supposition and ignorant prejudice. As a result, the really important things - judgement and observation - have been undermined, making Britain's drivers more dangerous."

When confronted with the contents of TRL report 323 by an Autocar journalist, the DETR could only say that it "must be taken in context as a contribution to the wider understanding of road safety problems."

"One has to admire the sheer cheek of this DETR spokesman," continues McArthur-Christie. "They have spent ten years in the relentless, blinkered pursuit of speed without any rigorous research to back their position. When somebody does that research and comes up with the "wrong" conclusion, they have the effrontery to quote the self same 'wider context' they have been so determinedly ignoring."

It is clear from the beginning that the writers of this report have approached the subject with an open mind, with a view to discovering the truth rather than simply seeking to confirm their prejudices.

On page four, the need to look at a hierarchy of factors rather than isolate a single one was considered. One could consider "fatigue" as a likely factor in an accident, but since many people manage to drive when "fatigued" without having an accident, it is clearly too simplistic to regard this as the cause, say the report authors.

Obvious - but this truth never seems to occur to those anti speed fanatics who blame speed for one accident involving someone doing the same speed as 75,000 other drivers who did not crash. No wonder they never get to the bottom of accident causation and no wonder road safety is failing to improve in the face of the "Kill Your Speed" campaign.

 

Report methodology details:
The researchers looked at the way police forces recorded the contributory causes of accidents using the old report forms and found significant inconsistencies across the country (for example, attribution of excessive speed as a cause varied between 5% and 19% in two similar rural police areas). They then devised a new system of categorising accident causes and piloted the system with eight police forces.

Accidents were split into fifteen "precipitating factors" to evaluate what actually happened, then 54 different "causation factors" were offered up for the investigating officer to attempt to establish why the accident had occurred. Up to four causes could be entered on the form, and each could be identified as a definite, probable or possible cause of the accident.

 

Notes for Editors