Australia and New Zealand: Attitudes towards speeding investigated

25 Apr

The fear of being caught, particularly when suspension of a driving licence is immediate, is the single greatest deterrent to speeding. Where motorists do not LXinfoImage1150-Driver attitudes to speed enforcement report - Austroadsperceive a threat of being caught, they are more likely to drive at a speed they consider to be safe. Motorists have a better regard of being caught by a police officer than they exhibit towards automatic enforcement systems. These are findings contained within an excellent study “Driver Attitides to Speed Enforcement” published by Austroads. It is essential reading for anyone considering speed limits on the approach to and across level crossings as a speed limit without a robust enforcement strategy most likely will not be sufficient to drive the reduction of speed sought.

The research undertaken for this project comprised: an audit of existing speed enforcement strategies in all Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions; a review of research into attitudes towards speeding and speed enforcement in Australian and New Zealand; focus group discussions with drivers in Australia and New Zealand to explore their attitudes towards speeding and speed enforcement, knowledge about speed enforcement, and self-reported behaviours; and a survey of 3,152 drivers in Australia and New Zealand to quantify their attitudes towards speeding and speed enforcement, knowledge about speed enforcement, and self-reported behaviours.

The study found that it is common for drivers to think that other drivers who drive faster than they do are a safety threat, but they mostly see their own driving as being under control and therefore ‘safe enough’. In discussion groups, drivers indicated that the fear of being caught was usually the most salient negative consequence of speeding, and was therefore the most prominent consideration in choosing driving speed. Drivers who said that they at least sometimes drove above the speed limit tended to report that, in the absence of a clear and immediate threat of being caught, they drove at a speed that ‘felt safe’.

Research participants generally accepted that speed enforcement was an important tool in helping keep drivers to the speed limit, and thereby keeping our roads safer. But despite the generally high level of support for an increase or maintenance of at least some speed enforcement techniques, drivers in discussion groups more readily associated enforcement with raising revenue and with a bureaucratic insistence on compliance rather than with safety. Overall, enforcement by police was widely supported by drivers and claimed to be more effective than automatic enforcement. The effectiveness of covert enforcement was generally not well understood and it received lower levels of approval than overt techniques.
More survey respondents reported that they were deterred by the threat of immediate licence suspension than by a fine or demerit points. Almost all discussion group participants were interested in knowing what revenue raised through speeding fines was spent on, and thought that transparency around this issue may make them more accepting of fines.

One Response to “Australia and New Zealand: Attitudes towards speeding investigated”

  1. Andrew Fraser April 25, 2013 at 08:25 #

    All very interesting, but I wonder what antipodean attitudes are to Intelligent Speed Adaptation … a far healthier approach to the speed “problem”.

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