Reduce speeds

More employees are killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads while driving on business than in any other work-related activity; up to 200 road deaths and serious injuries a week result from crashes involving at work drivers (1).

One of the biggest causes is driving at inappropriate speeds either by exceeding the speed limit or by driving too fast for the conditions e.g. twisting rural roads, poor weather, poor visibility or high pedestrian activity (2).

However, speeding is not only against the law and dangerous;  with companies anxious to cut their costs and reduce their carbon footprint speeding results in an unnecessary waste of fuel and  higher carbon emissions.

Facts

  • Speeding drivers cause, or contribute to, over 70,000 road crashes every year in the UK (2)
  • In 2008, 4,685 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes where a speed contributory factor was reported; 586 of these were fatalities (6)
  • There are 2 ‘high-risk’ groups who are more likely to break speed limits and are more likely to crash: male drivers who drive for work and young and inexperienced male drivers (7)
  • Drivers who reduce their speed from 85mph to 70mph will save nearly half a litre of petrol every 10 miles (8)
  • Driving at  70mph uses up to 9% more fuel than at 60mph and up to 15% more fuel than at 50mph (9)
  • Cruising at 80mph can use up to 25% more fuel than at 70mph (10)

The issue

Company car and van drivers are more likely to think that being on time is more important than seeing speeding as risky, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

But at higher speeds, there is less time to identify and react to what’s happening on the road, it takes longer to stop (see chart below and attached pdf document) and crashes are more severe, causing more serious injuries to vehicle occupants and other road users.

Stopping distance

Speed

Thinking Time

Braking Distance

Total Stopping Time

Equivalent

Chance of survival in a road accident

20 mph

6 metres

6 metres

12 metres

3 car lengths

90%

30 mph

9 metres

14 metres

23 metres

6 car lengths

80%

40 mph

12 metres

24 metres

36 metres

9 car lengths

10%

50 mph

15 metres

38 metres

53 metres

13 car lengths

 

60 mph

18 metres

55 metres

73 metres

18 car lengths

 

70 mph

21 metres

75 metres

96 metres

24 car lengths

 

Source: Highway Code & Institute of Advanced Motorists

Higher speeds also magnify other driver errors, such as following too closely to the vehicle ahead or driving when tired or distracted, thus multiplying the chances of causing a crash.

Drivers should allow at least a two second gap between them and the vehicle in front - and the gap should at least be doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads (3)

There are fewer crashes on motorways, because there are fewer hazards - such as pedestrians, cyclists or junctions - and most vehicles drive at a constant speed. However, when crashes do occur, they are more likely to be fatal, because of the high speeds involved.

The Health and Safety Executive’s ‘Driving at Work: Managing work-related road safety’ guidance (4) makes clear that managers should be satisfied that sufficient time is allowed to complete journeys safely taking into account road types and condition and rest breaks.

And, the guide asks: “Does company policy put drivers under pressure and encourage them to take unnecessary risks, eg. to exceed safe speeds because of agreed arrival times?”

The maximum fine for a speeding offence is £1,000 (£2,500 for motorway offences) and 3-6 penalty points (or 3 fixed penalty points); disqualification is discretionary.

Environment panel

Driving at the appropriate speed and not speeding also contributes to reducing emissions and improving vehicle fuel economy too.

Overtaking one car will save less than 5 seconds in most cases, but drivers will spend longer than that on the forecourt replacing the fuel they have ‘wasted’. Therefore, encouraging drivers to stay within the speed limit could unlock huge savings in fuel costs and emissions, which are linked to fuel usage.

It is also vital to speed up and slow down smoothly - every time a driver stops then starts again in a traffic queue, the vehicle’s engine uses more fuel and therefore produces more CO2. By keeping an eye on the traffic ahead and slowing down early by gently lifting off the accelerator - while keeping the car in gear -will benefit the environment, improve MPG and reduce the risk of crashing.

How ProFleet2 can help

ProFleet2 enables fleet decision-makers to enable their businesses to comply with at-work driving health and safety and environmental best practice. With journey times and distances being monitored, together with driver profiling data such as vehicle speed, acceleration and deceleration, it is easy to identify speeding drivers. However, with drivers aware of the existence ofProFleet2 in their vehicles, they are more inclined to driver responsibly and within the law.

As a result, drivers will reduce the risk of being subject to a speeding conviction as well as the risk of crashing, while helping to improve the overall operational efficiency of the fleet. Meanwhile, with detailed logs of every journey undertaken recorded along with the carbon emissions created by those journeys, companies can also collate data on their carbon footprint.

Consequently, environmentally-friendly initiatives can be implemented as part of a larger corporate social responsibility programme.

Information sources

  1. Driving for Better Business campaign, http://www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com/
  2. RoSPA,  http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/info/workspeed.pdf
  3. Highway Code, http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_069889
  4. ‘Driving at Work: Managing work-related road safety’, http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg382.pdf
  5. Department for Transport, http://www.dft.gov.uk/think/focusareas/driving/speedrural?page=Overview
  6. Department for Transport,http://www.dft.gov.uk/think/focusareas/driving/speedurban?page=Overview
  7. Brake, http://www.brake.org.uk/facts
  8. Institute of Advanced Motorists, http://www.iam.org.uk/images/stories/downloads/Policy_and_Research/FuelSavingtip.pdf
  9. Act on CO2, http://actonco2.direct.gov.uk/actonco2/home/what-you-can-do/On-the-move/driving-your-car.html
  10. AA, http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/fuels-and-environment/drive-smart.html