South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership
16 Nov 2020
The view from my desk – No Need to Speed

As I sit here, working from home, I watch out of my dining room window at the traffic passing; cars and vans, a bus twice an hour, the bin lorries at lunch time on their regular route back out for the afternoon collections.

In the early days of lockdown the roads were eerily quiet; the motorised traffic replaced with a new cohort of cyclists and walkers. Pedestrians thronged the streets, emerging from their homes as if after a winter hibernation, shouting greetings to their fellow villagers.

As lockdown was progressively eased, so traffic levels returned to normal but it’s good to see that the levels of cycling have remained fairly high, as people rediscover the joys of pedal power. However, fewer people have kept up their daily walks and, save for a few stalwarts, we only see the odd dog walker now as we stride out our familiar route around the village.

It’s easy to see why councils report they have had an increase in complaints from residents about speeding in their area. There are more people at home to witness what is happening outside their windows.

I feel it too and, whilst it’s hard to judge what speeds the cars are passing outside, it’s clear that some are exceeding the 30 mph speed limit and a minority are exceeding it by A LOT. But what does it matter?

What if Bill next door was pulling out of his driveway as that speeding car approached? Or Mrs Norris was crossing the road to take her little dog Trixie for a walk? Or my own husband was returning from his cycle ride and deviated from his path to avoid that pothole outside number 52?

Any of these unexpected things could happen which means that a speeding driver has to stop sharply, and the faster he is going the less chance he has of stopping in time and of the people I know and love getting home unscathed.

Remembering how cross and let down I feel when people speed past my house, I’m conscious when driving in built up areas, past other people’s houses, that I also have a responsibility to those people sat in their homes. It’s up to me to help make their neighbourhoods better places by not speeding.

If we all lived by the motto to “treat others as you would like them to treat you” it would play a massive part in improving safety on our roads and protecting all road users. It’s a philosophy that we’ve used for the last 8 months during our fight against the COVID19 pandemic. 

Communities have united and people have shown great care towards each other as we battle the virus together. We need to continue this level of care for each other through our actions on the roads to avoid serious collisions, by looking out for each other and respecting the needs of others on the roads.

So as part of the annual National Road Safety Week from the 16th November, the Safer Roads Partnership will be promoting the campaign and working with our partners around this year’s theme of “No need to speed”.

We’ll be using our social media platforms and on line channels to remind people why it’s not a good idea to speed. Most people agree that speed limits should be obeyed. Speeding is one of the top community concerns in surveys undertaken by South Yorkshire Police.

So now is the time to stand up for slowing down. Speeding vehicles can make our communities noisier and more polluted and discourage people from walking and cycling by creating an unpleasant environment and making people feel more at risk.

Speeding is anti-social and unacceptable. We need to challenge people’s attitudes and motivations for speeding and help them to come up with strategies to use that will keep them within the speed limit. This is something that the Safer Roads Partnership does in delivering a range of road safety sessions, in particular to young drivers, riders and business drivers.

Our local authority partners also have a key role to play in delivering engineering schemes to slow down traffic in residential areas, town and city centres and outside schools. Alongside this South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Safety Cameras have a pivotal role in enforcing speeds and other road traffic laws to ensure that those people risking lives by breaking the law will be prosecuted. This is part of daily business for the roads policing team, but during National Road Safety Week they will be hosting check sites across all four districts in South Yorkshire.

Neighbourhood policing teams will be conducting their own operations, although they will be unable to run Community Speed Watch operations with members of the public due to Covid-19 restrictions. And the mobile safety camera team will be out at Community Concern sites – locations where members of the public have raised concerns about the speed of vehicles.

But it’s not just about what the Safer Roads partners are doing. We can’t hope to reduce casualties and make our roads safer without your help. The actions of the travelling public out on the roads matter. So here are some tips for staying within the speed limit.

Look out for signs telling you what the speed limit is, remember street lights mean 30 mph unless otherwise indicated.
Check your speedometer.
Avoid distractions and focus on the task of driving, passengers have a role to play here too in making sure they let the driver concentrate on the road.
Finally give yourself plenty of time and plan ahead so you aren’t rushing and then tempted to speed.

Thank you to all those people who do stick to the speed limit, who recognise the additional dangers when driving past a school or in wet weather and slow down further. You are helping to make a real difference.

A pedestrian hit by a car travelling at 30mph has an 80% chance of survival. But increase the speed by 10mph and a pedestrian hit by a car travelling at 40mph has an 80% chance of being killed. So slowing down really can save lives!

Stay safe until next time.