Last week Piers Morgan was fined £666 for speeding in Brighton. He was caught by a fixed speed camera on 13 November doing 51mph in a 30mph zone. He also had six points added to his licence and was ordered to pay £58 costs after pleading guilty.
Not the only celebrity to have been caught speeding over the past few years, Formula One star Lewis Hamilton had his car impounded in France in 2007 and again this year in Melbourne for over exuberant driving.
In January, Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole was fined £1,000 for speeding. He was also banned from driving for four months and ordered to pay £300 costs. He was caught doing 104mph on the 50mph A3 in Kingston, Surrey, in November 2008.
Comedian Jimmy Carr was fined £300 and given three points for driving a Bentley at 50mph in a 40mph zone in 2008. He was ordered to pay £3,219 costs after a two year legal battle.
It is not only male celebrities who have been convicted. Chris Tarrant’s ex-wife Ingrid has received 15 points in three years for speeding and using her mobile phone while driving and earlier this year was banned from driving for six months.
It is not just those in the public eye who speed. Unfortunately, breaking the posted speed limit is one of the most common motoring offences. Almost all drivers and motorcyclists speed at some point, either by exceeding the speed limit or by driving within the limit but too fast for the conditions.
A survey in the 2007 RAC Report on Motoring showed that 37% of people thought driving significantly above the limit in a built up area was a serious offence, compared to 77% in response to driving over the legal limit.
Speeding poses obvious safety and social risks but continues to be behaviour that the driving public shows little inclination to curtail. The relationship between speed and safety centres on two aspects; the relationship between collision speed and the severity of a crash and the relation between speed and crash rate.
There has been significant development of vehicle design but collision speed is still of greater importance to crash outcome, especially when involving a pedestrian. A pedestrian hit at 30mph has an 80% chance of survival whilst at 35mph it is only 50%. In 2008, 4,685 people were killed or seriously injured (KSI) in crashes where a speed contributory factor was reported; 586 of these were fatalities.
In its report ‘Behave Yourself’ (2009) PACTS called on the DfT to undertake another Speed Management Review to present the road safety community with a clearer understanding of the situation and where efforts should be most concentrated.
PACTS also advocated disentangling the speed camera argument from the broader sphere of speed management to enable progression. It is important to foster greater legitimacy in the tools of enforcement and greater use of average speed cameras at appropriate sites may aid this.
If greater numbers of drivers are to change their behavior, we need strong road safety advocates in all spheres of influence, maybe even including people in the public eye who have experienced the consequences of their actions.
Communications and Conference Manager