Here’s something you probably don’t hear a lot. speed does not kill. Drag racers, Formula One drivers and anyone who’s ever done more than 500mph in a Boeing 737 are testament to this.
But while speed on its own rarely kills, combine it with something else and you’ve potentially got a sure-fire recipe for disaster.
It might be perfectly safe to drive at 60mph on a fast rural road with good visibility, but how do you know you’ve got good visibility?
Can you guarantee that something won’t come out of that gate from the field, that there isn’t a pedestrian just out of view or some diesel hasn’t been spilled on the bend you’re approaching?
Then there are the things within your control. Load your car up with mates and the handling – plus the stopping distances – will be adversely affected. Reach for the radio or get involved in a conversation at just the wrong moment, and it could be curtains.
And don’t forget mobiles, slowed reaction times from having had a drink and handling screwed up because your tyres are bald or under-inflated. Throw a few of these factors into the mix and just an extra few miles an hour really can make the difference between life and death.
A big problem with speed limits is that they’re often seen as a target rather than a maximum; falling into that trap can prove fatal. Also, while we’re all taught to obey speed limits, many drivers assume they only have to ensure they don’t exceed the number on the sign and they’ll be safe. But that’s not the case — a skilled driver will take into account a stack of other factors, such as the weather conditions and whether or not there are other road users around.
If you’re not driving like a complete idiot, but you’re caught driving over the speed limit, you’ll be fined £100 and given three points on your licence.
If you’re lucky, you might be offered a speed awareness course instead, typically for £90, but without the points. Such courses aren’t available everywhere, not everybody gets the option, and you can attend one of these courses only once every three years.