Whilst the UK has one of the best road safety records in the world, many drivers still fail to adhere to the speed limits that are posted. Speed is a critical factor in most road traffic accidents, and it is imperative that you recognise when and how to apply effective speed management techniques.
If you think about the way someone who drinks and drives is generally perceived, Dangerous, Anti-social, Selfish, and compare that to someone who speeds, even if it’s only occasionally. A good driver understands how speed, just like Drink driving, increases their chances of being involved in an accident, and the potential consequences, be that Legal, Financial, or Personal
Imagine you’re driving along a road but you don’t know what the speed limit is? Well you’re probably not alone, and sometimes you need to be really eagle-eyed to see the posted limits, making it quite difficult to work out what the speed limit is. Well, unfortunately ignorance will not be a defence if you are caught, or cause an accident.
So we need to be constantly aware of the road and conditions ahead, and to ensure that not only are we aware of the speed limit, but we assess the best speed for the road conditions ahead.
Feeling the pressure from other drivers / peer pressure!
So you’ve identified the limit and you correct your speed accordingly, and before you know it, there is another sign and the limit changes again. So again you slow down and, try to keep to this new limit – only to find an irate queue of impatient drivers following along behind. The temptation is to speed up to relieve the feeling of ‘holding everyone up’ – well try to remember you are doing the safe legal limit – the drivers behind don’t know you, so it doesn’t matter – they’ll probably never seem you again – so try to keep calm and don’t let anyone antagonise or intimidate you.
The following are some TIPS for effective speed management, to stay safe and legal.
- Use your gears to stay in control. Selecting a lower gear will help you manage your speed in built-up areas, because engine braking will help to hold the vehicle back and prevent it running away from you. try using Third gear for 30mph and, for those challenging 20mph limits, try second. Modern engines use fuel-injection systems controlled by computer, meaning you won’t use more fuel.
- Looking out for street lights, There is a simple method for knowing what the speed is, if you can see a system of street lights (that’s 3 or more), then the speed limit will be 30mph. They could also be on telegraph poles or strip lighting in tunnels, and they don’t have to be switched on. It doesn’t matter about the space between them, either – 3 or more and it’s a system. If there are no street lights, then it’s national speed limit (remembering, that it will vary depending on the type of road and the vehicle you are driving). This rule applies to all road types, apart from motorways. If the speed limit is anything different, it must be signed because signs overrule street lights.
- Dual Carriageways A Dual carriageway has nothing to do with the number of lanes, but is defined by the fact that it must have a physical separation between the two opposing carriageways, be it grass, infill, concrete or metal barriers, or just a raised kerb down the middle. There could be one or more lanes in either direction, but the presence of two lanes alone does not constitute a dual carriageway.
- A dual carriageway with streetlights is limited to 30mph. Unless there are signs telling you otherwise, the speed limit will be 30mph – remember the streetlight rule. If the limit was anything different, there would be signs to tell you this. Many drivers forget that the streetlight rule applies to dual carriageways too, and are caught out because the road ‘looks faster’.
- Give yourself time. This is something I will be constantly reinforcing. One of the biggest causes of speeding, is time pressure, or running late. Often, people who are running late, are only travelling a relatively short distance, so speeding and driving aggressively will not save you much time, particularly in a town. REMEMBER, it is better to allow yourself that ‘safety margin’ of extra time, so you don’t feel pressured into breaking the law and risking speeding fines, points, or worse. Also a smooth, progressive drive within the speed limit uses up to 25% less fuel, and ultimately speed limits are just that – limits, not targets. There will be many occasions when the limit just isn’t appropriate, and you’ll need to adjust your speed accordingly. As a result, an important part of good driving is recognising when the posted limit IS or ISN’T appropriate for the conditions you are facing.