Deaths and serious injuries caused by driver speed rose significantly last year, according to analysis of government road casualty data by a road safety charity to mark Road Safety Week 2023.
Brake said the latest statistics show that 1,766 people died on UK roads in 2022, a 10% increase on the previous year. The charity’s analysis found that in the same period, road deaths caused by exceeding the speed limit rose by 20%. Road Safety Week began on Sunday (19 November) to coincide with the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims and runs until Saturday.
Brake said it is calling on everyone to join ‘a national conversation about speed’, to raise awareness of the dangers of excessive and inappropriate speed, ‘and challenge why so many people still think it is acceptable to drive faster than the speed limit’.
Interim CEO Ross Moorlock said: ‘Road death is sudden. It's traumatic. It sends shockwaves across families, schools, workplaces and communities. Today, five people will be killed on our roads. And tomorrow, another five won’t make it home to their families. And so on, and so on, until we all say 'Enough!’ and start taking responsibility for each other’s safety on the road.
‘The speed we choose to drive at can mean the difference between life and death. Our speed dictates whether we can stop in time to avoid a crash, and the force of impact if we can't stop. This Road Safety Week, whoever you are, and however you travel, I urge you to join the conversation and talk about speed. Please talk to as many people as you can to find out why, when five people die on our roads every day, so many of us still choose to drive too fast.’
Brake also carried out a survey, in which 92% of more than 2,000 drivers said that speed limits are essential for road safety.
It said that despite this more than a third (34%) of those surveyed said they sometimes or often drive faster than the speed limit, and 40% think that driving slightly over the speed limit doesn’t matter.
Two-fifths (39%) of drivers also agreed that the default speed limit on roads in built-up areas should be lowered from 30mph to 20mph.
Safety charity RoSPA said that darkness amplifies the risks associated with speeding and that as Britain experiences shorter days and longer nights, adhering to speed limits and driving to the conditions is paramount.
It urged drivers to use dipped headlights, ensure clean windscreens, and be extra cautious when navigating poorly-lit roads.
Road safety manager Rebecca Guy said: ‘As we age, our ability to adapt to changing light reduces, which impacts how we see colours and contrasts in low-light conditions.’