As UK police launch the latest nationwide speed enforcement blitz commencing 14 Jan (1), the ABD challenges the National Police Chiefs’ Council spin and deliberate confusion of statistics, used to justify the thousands of tickets that will mainly be issued to sober, licenced drivers exceeding limits by small margins.
ABD spokesman Paul Biggs explains: “The National Police Chief’s Council claim that ‘Across Europe speeding contributes to as many as one third of all collisions that result in fatality’. The police chiefs are deliberately misleading by ignoring two facts. Firstly, the one third includes inappropriate speed within limits – 85% of fatal and 93% of serious RTAs involve road users travelling at or below the speed limit – but enforcement of limits doesn’t tackle this. Secondly, statistics uncovered by the ABD show clearly that the remainder of the one third is made up largely of those who were also drunk, drugged, driving stolen cars, using cars for crime, driving without licences or travelling at reckless speeds way above the limit (2). Indeed, whilst we have asked many times just how many people are killed by sober, otherwise legal drivers exceeding the limit by small margins, those in authority have invariably dodged the question. Yet these drivers remain the prime target by far of campaigns such as this. Perhaps Adrian Davis of West Mercia Police, who justifies the campaign on the grounds of 123 people killed and 929 seriously injured in his area, may enlighten us as to how many of these involved such drivers? We won’t hold our breath.”
It should be noted that Paul Garvin, then Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary, verified the above in 1993 (4.) stating: “having looked at the accident statistics in this area, we find that if you break down the 1,900 collisions we have each year only three per cent involve cars that are exceeding the speed limit. Just 60 accidents per year involve vehicles exceeding the speed limit. You then need to look at causes of these 60 accidents. Speed may be a factor in the background but the actual cause of the accident invariably is drink-driving or drug-driving.”
The ABD call for limits to be set using the 85th percentile methods to avoid the incentives for targeting high revenue areas.(3) Speed limits are too often set on the whims and fancies of local councillors, clearly exceeding such limits, set with no basis in science does not automatically make drivers unsafe but it makes them prime targets for over-zealous enforcers.