Strict speed enforcement detrimental to road safety, study finds

The following article appeared on the Australian ABC News Site and outlines my predictions exactly.

 

I have indicated my disagreement with dogmatic and “old-school” law enforcement on many platforms, in the past. I maintain that any “bigger stick” approach and only “dire consequences” is about as ineffective as beating a dog or a child into submission – it works in that moment, but overall you create a distrusting, dangerous animal (or child).

 

If Enforcement Agencies and Government were truly trying to make roads safer, they would not be finding ways to “rake in millions” from offences, but rather SPENDING MILLIONS on human behaviour analysis and interventions.

 

Imagine a speeding fine of 500 bucks (no matter the currency) for exceeding the speed limit by 10% (no matter the unit). Surely, the “fine” is NOT the same and will not have the same effect on two people from vastly differing income groups!

 

A rich man will view it as an “inconvenience,” a poor one as “no food on the table!” In addition – even the further consequences (demerit points, losing licenses, etc) all adds to the fuel of division – people “hate the police.”

 

In this negative climate, cooperation is unlikely, compliance not as prevalent as you would hope and animosity on the increase.

 

Add to this the “distractive” effect the “fear of prosecution” introduces and suddenly you have the opposite effect to the desired one: people are so busy focusing on their speed (fear-based cognitive influence) that they are becoming outcome-dedicated to the point of abandoning other responsibilities, like safe driving (as the research found).

 

Imagine a world where you could relax, not worry about your speed and focus on the driving task, receive BENEFITS for NOT speeding (rather than the converse) and where continued compliance resulted in reduced vehicle licensing fees, parking, the ability to use preferential roads (with higher speed limits), etc?

 

Wouldn’t it be better to find ways to make road users ENJOy driving more, than to introduce so much terror that drivers are adversely affected and risk increased?

 

Remember the saying? “If we can save but one life, we need to do whatever it takes…” Well- relaxing the gestapo attitude and stopping with all this fear-mongering and finding positive ways to ensure risk mitigation, might be a good place to start!

 

Strict speed enforcement could have a detrimental impact on road safety because drivers are dedicating more attention to monitoring their speed than detecting hazards, a study has found.

 

Researchers from the University of Western Australia used a driving simulator to test whether reducing the speed enforcement thresholds would impact on a driver’s mental and visual abilities.

 

The study recruited 84 participants who were told they could be fined for driving one, six or 11 kilometres per hour over a 50 kilometre per hour speed limit, and measured their response to small red dots which appeared in their peripheral vision.

 

Lead researcher Dr Vanessa Bowden said the study found those who were given a one kilometre per hour threshold were less likely to detect objects outside of their immediate line of sight.

 

“We concluded that drivers’ mental and visual resources were being used up by paying extra attention to the speed monitoring task, and this was taking some of their attention away from the visual world around them when they were driving,” she said.

 

The participants were also asked to fill out a questionnaire which asked how difficult or demanding they found the experience.

 

Drivers who were given a stricter speed limit threshold rated the experience as more demanding.

 

Dr Bowden said road safety authorities should take note.

 

“There can be a perception that by making it stricter you’re only going to get benefits, like you’ll get everyone driving more slowly and more safely,” she said.

 

“But … you can’t necessarily make drivers pay more attention to the speed and go more slowly without taking their attention away from some other critical aspect of driving.”

 

Police said there was a small leeway above the speed limit in WA, but do not publicly reveal what it is.

 

The researchers will also investigate whether drivers respond poorly to hazards when strict speed limits are enforced.

0 Comments

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *