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Safe Speed
Introduction Page

"Statutory speed limits set the maximum permissible speed, but this is not the same thing as safe speed. The safe speed for a particular stretch of road is determined by the conditions at the time. In winter, at night, in conditions of low visibility or high traffic volume the statutory speed limit may well be excessive. The onus is always on the driver to select a speed appropriate for the conditions." 

from Roadcraft - The Police Driver's Handbook, current edition, page 164

Road safety in the UK... the background to our campaign

These are the key facts that guide the focus of our campaign: 

  • Modern road safety policies led by speed cameras appear to have robbed us of the improvements that continued for at least 30 years up until the early 90s when speed cameras were introduced.
  • The important road fatality rate indicator (i.e. road deaths per vehicle km) fell at a steady 5% per annum from before 1960 until about 1993. Since then we've only had tiny gains. Speed cameras were first introduced in 1992.
  • Extrapolating the previous gains suggests that present road safety policy is responsible for not saving some 4,500 road deaths to the end of 2002. (click here) Sometimes we hear the claim that "all the big gains have already been had" as an excuse for the failure of modern road safety policy. However...
  • In many western countries without a road safety policy based on "speed kills" gains continue at the previous rates.
  • We predicted back in the late 80s that the forthcoming introduction of speed cameras would tend to worsen driving conditions and do nothing to improve road casualties. But it's worse even than we predicted...
  • Road casualties have held steady despite considerable improvements in vehicle safety and road design.
  • The conclusion must be that our road safety policy has made the roads more dangerous to such an extent that the improvements in vehicles and roads are entirely negated.
  • The government repeatedly claims that "one third of accidents are caused by speed" but there is no research whatsoever that supports the claim. We even have a "Statistics Challenge" on the first page of the web site where we promise to publish links to any supporting research. Despite many visits to the site by anti-speed campaigners no one has offered a link to supporting research.
  • The so-called safety camera partnerships employ marketing men to spin the best story to the press and the public. They frequently make claims of massive safety improvements where speed cameras are installed. But none of these supposed gains have ever been reflected in the national road safety statistics. This can only mean that they use the local statistics creatively to mislead us and to protect their own jobs. Here's how they do it. (click here)
  • The Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) appears to have been recruited to support the government's misguided anti-speed campaign and has produced some bizarre documents purporting to be research, but which we believe to be blatant propaganda.
  • We believe that current speed policy targets all drivers without discrimination between safe and dangerous. It is morally unjust to use the law against a safe responsible driver at a safe and responsible speed. And yes. There can be responsible speeds in excess of the speed limit. Any driver who tells you otherwise is a fool, a liar or a danger.

Safe Speed's Policy

Safe Speed seeks to find the truth in road safety. There are a lot of lies, some bad research, some well funded pressure groups, and plenty of people who've staked their job on speed cameras being successful. It's no wonder that truth is hard to find, and it's no wonder that Safe Speed is needed to help set the record straight. See, for example, some astonishing email exchanges with the DfT and the TRL.

We only want to make the roads safer. Our focus is for road safety not against speed enforcement. It's just that speed enforcement policy is presently the single most important issue. The vested interests support the policy despite its complete failure to deliver results. We think the figures show that speed cameras are dangerous.

We entirely agree that inappropriate speed can be extremely dangerous, but the significant majority of cases of inappropriate speed take place within the speed limit where they won't be improved by even the fiercest enforcement scheme. If fact we think that dangerous and inappropriate speed accidents are increasing as drivers are paying more attention to their speedo and less to the road than ever before.

We call for improved driving standards and safe speeds set by drivers. Since speed limits are never going to be able to replace responsible speed setting we repeated call for ensuring that drivers have the skill to slow down when necessary. This is what we mean when we call for safe speeds. Read about safe speeds.

We agree with speed limits. We've never campaigned to have speed limits raised or abolished. What we do campaign for is using the speed limits properly as a method for prosecuting the dangerous use of speed. click here

We campaign against injustice. Modern road traffic law applied by robot and software frequently targets safe behaviour. The law is supposed to be enforced in the public interest, and many modern speeding prosecutions are not in the public interest and are unjust.

We publish your comments. For any claim or any article we will create a page to hold comments from visitors. We won't ever withhold publication of a comment because we disagree with views expressed. Normally we will attribute the comment to an individual by name. If that's perhaps unsuitable for you, then advise us when you submit the comment (For example, if you are a serving Police officer, we would be pleased to attribute the comment to "a serving police officer", and we might well understand why you wouldn't wish to be identified by name). We may withhold pointless or unsubstantiated rants, and we will withhold incomprehensible, profane, personal and off-topic comments.

We promise throughout the site to remove any facts that can be shown to be incorrect. We've made a couple of minor corrections on this basis over the last year or so.  We'll stand by it with a passion. This website does not twist facts or tell half truths. If you happen to find an error of fact anywhere on the site we want to know.

What's here and navigation

Section pages all show the "navigation roundabout" at the top left. (see the top of this page for example) You can click to other sections on the roundabout from any section page. This is the introduction section.

The most important feature of the site are the claims. In numbered paragraphs we set out the arguments for and against road safety strategies, based on the present position. There are better ways forward! Each numbered claim can has an associated comments page. We'll publish comments to the comments pages, and build up a knowledge database.

Claims pages are claims, proposals, criteria, and dangers. You can always get to the claims section by clicking "claims" on the navigation roundabout.

Links are accessible from the navigation roundabout. There's a link to us page accessible from the links page.

Advanced driving is presently a small section accessible from the navigation roundabout. We have a lot of text ready to develop the advanced driving section, but have been considerably delayed by the huge diagram requirement. About 200 diagrams are required to support the existing text and we've not yet found the many hours required to get the material on line. Sorry.

The background page explains the safe speed rule in some detail.

News will always be found on the first page. Click the logo on the first page to visit the main page. Everything else  is accessed from the main page. Some call the first page the "porch" and the main page the "foyer". In the same way as a building, when you arrive at the site, you arrive at the first page (porch) and then enter the main page / foyer from there. We recommend setting your bookmark to the first page.

Articles are to be found from the main page. Each article is one page long. You click to an article and click back to the main page. There will always be a main page link at the bottom of an article.

New content on the site will be marked with a yellow "new" tag for at least a month. If you haven't visited for over a month you might find unflagged new material.

Your browser's "back" button is your friend. If you ever feel lost try clicking "back" to a previous page. If you don't know what a back button is click help from the menu at the top of the screen right now and find out. You'll be glad you did!

If you have any problems navigating or viewing the Safe Speed web site then please let us know. We want to ensure that the site is easy to get around, works properly and has no broken links. If you find anything at all wrong, we will be very pleased to hear from you. There's always an email link at the bottom of section pages.

Finally for this section, you can now join Safe Speed as a member. It's great to belong and your support is needed to enable us to take our campaign onward and upwards. (click here)

Why are we called Safe Speed?

Occasionally we get emails or comments suggesting that the name of the website is a sort of impossibility. People assume, quite wrongly, that speed is dangerous, and have trouble understanding what we were thinking when we chose "Safe Speed" as a name... I'm afraid that such views are simply the result of propaganda and ignorance. Speed isn't dangerous. It's the inappropriate use of speed that can cause danger. When speed is not inappropriate it is called safe. This is an important basis for all driver education, and is expressed in its basic form in the safe speed rule. 

The safe speed rule is: Drivers must always choose a speed that allows them to stop comfortably, on their own side of the road, within the distance that they know to be clear. Read about it on the background page. 

We chose the name "Safe Speed" partly as a counter to the blunt and highly misleading mantra "speed kills" and partly to align ourselves with the best in driver education. 

Original Introduction

This web site started for me (May 2001) when I heard of a case where a lady driver was photographed speeding twice within 6 minutes at 33 and 34 mph in a 30 mph speed limit zone. She was convicted at a court and banned from driving for 6 months for 12 points "totting up". The case is currently awaiting appeal (or possibly a retrial of some sort ... and there are a couple of other complexities ... I'm checking. However, the details of the case are presently unimportant).

The injustice of the case was the last straw which finally made me sit up and decide to do something.

More to follow. Site updated. Originally written 14th August 2001.

Page updated 30th December 2002. 

Safe Speed is UK based, and some comments will be especially applicable to UK roads.

Safe Speed. Clear thinking about safe driving for the 21st century.

We have a strict editorial policy regarding factual content. If any fact stated on this site can be shown to be wrong, it will be removed as soon as possible.
We do not condone or recommend law breaking.