Avoiding Accidents in Newbury
According to RoSPA’s (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) website, in 2018 the UK saw 186 deaths due to drivers exceeding the speed limit, with thousands more seriously injured for the same reason. Speed can kill.
You might expect that most fatalities would take place on roads where the speed limit is higher, but this is counterintuitive. (Most of us will remember the harrowing road-safety advert in which a young girl tells us “Hit me at 40mph and there’s an 80% chance I’ll die. Hit me at 30mph and there’s an 80% chance I’ll live.”) Two-thirds of the road accidents that kill or injure people take place on roads where the speed limit is 30mph or less. This is because the conditions in these areas are not suitable for speeds higher than the allocated limit. Environments with 20/30mph speed limits have more possible distractions, such as cyclists and pedestrians. Reaction time against dangers is exponentially reduced the faster the driver decides to go.
Despite the obvious danger to life that speeding poses, it is imperative that driving instructors highlight other risks that might encourage people to keep within the speed limit. The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points. If you end up in court and are found guilty of speeding you can be charged up to £1000 (£2’500 if you were speeding on a motorway). Not to mention that penalties associated with speeding could increase your annual car insurance bill by an average of £101.
As a learner myself, speed-awareness has been one of the hardest skills to master. Especially early on when I was overwhelmed by everything happening beyond the windscreen, it was difficult to habituate glancing down at the speedo every few seconds or so to ensure I was within the limit. In Newbury (Berkshire), I get a good mix of roads to practise on, and it soon became clear that the limit is a limit and not a target. There are roads that I encounter which allow you to drive at 60mph but have deceptively sharp bends. So even experienced drivers might end up zooming into a ditch or a tree if the limit was matched or exceeded for the entire stretch of road. This highlights that developing good judgement is key, and we shouldn’t feel pressured into driving as fast as legally possible if the conditions are not suitable.