Poll On Motorists' Attitudes to Speed Limits Shows Credibility Gap

AUTO CENTRAL January 6, 2009: A poll by automotive news site, The Motor Report (TMR), on driver attitudes to speeding, shows that there is widespread non-acceptance by motorists of posted speed limits.
"It can be inferred from the results to the poll that few drivers accept the argument of Government and regulators that driving a little over posted limits puts them, and other drivers, at increased risk," The Motor Report Director Mr Steane Klose said.
Of the 1018 responses to the poll by TMR readers, conducted from December 18th, nine out of ten admitted to occasionally or commonly exceeding posted speed limits. Of these, nearly two in ten responded that they "drive at whatever speed I can get away with".
"While The Motor Report has a readership with a keen interest in cars, the numbers responding to the poll show that, quite clearly, State Governments and their responsible regulators have a problem.
"These results show that there is a credibility gap. Drivers simply do not accept the position of the various State jurisdictions that posted speed limits are exclusively about safety outcomes and not also about other things," Mr Klose said.
According to The Motor Report, motorists' practices relating to speed cameras would seem to support this contention.
"Drivers commonly flash to warn other drivers of the presence of mobile speed traps and many radio stations make a sport out of spreading the word about camera locations. The view is widespread in the community that speed cameras are simply revenue collection devices," Mr Klose said.
"These behaviours and attitudes would seem to add credence to the responses to The Motor Report Poll," he said.
"Clearly, with such widespread civil non-conformance, Governments have a lot more work to do if they are going to overcome the cynicism of motorists to speed cameras, and their real function.
"At The Motor Report, we believe that the key to reducing the road toll is better driver education, better driver training, and better roads. Our view is that all Australian Governments rely too heavily on speed cameras.
"How many drivers can overtake safely? How many understand the effect of a wet road on their car's handling and braking performance? How many can merge safely into highway traffic? How many really understand the dangers posed by worn tyres or brakes? How many understand the effect of a broken or gravel shoulder on a narrow country road should they have to suddenly brake?
"These are the things, and others, Governments should be educating drivers about.
"Maybe then, when we have competent drivers who understand their car's performance and understand the risks of the road, we won't have such a tragic holiday driving period.
"Fifty-six deaths on Australia's roads over the Christmas and New Year period is fifty-six too many," Mr Klose said.
About The Motor Report Poll:

Conducted from December 18th 2008 among visitors to The Motor Report news site.
1018 respondents, given a choice allowing only one response. What are your driving practices relating to posted speed limits?
I commonly exceed the posted limit but usually by just 5km/h to10km/h over - 51%
I will occasionally creep over the speed limit by up to 5 km/h - 24%
Speed limits are too low, I drive at whatever speed I can get away with - 17%
I rigorously observe posted limits - 8%