Understanding inappropriate high speed: a quantitative analysis

  • Published: Department for Transport, Road Safety Research Report No.93, 2008
  • Authors: S. Stradling, P. Broughton, N. Kinnear, C. O’Dolan, R. Fuller, M. Gormley, B. Hannigan
  • Date Added: 07 Mar 2014
  • Last Update: 07 Mar 2014
  • Format: pdf


To explore driver experiences and perceptions regarding speed choice and to identify the extent to which the concept of the Task-Capability Interface reported in Road Safety Research Report No. 92 applies. To help inform media campaigns.


Four focus groups involving professional drivers, participants on a speed awareness course and riders of motorcycles (36 participants in total). Survey of 1,005 drivers (928 were current drivers)

Key Findings:

  • Drivers significantly overestimated the time gained by driving faster and time lost by driving slower than 10 mph above/below 60 mph.

  • Just under a fifth (17 per cent) of drivers had been involved in an accident as a driver in the last 3 years, with 12 per cent of these drivers saying driving too fast for the conditions was a factor.

  • 43 per cent of drivers said they drove at 35 mph in a 30 mph area at least once a week (33 per cent drove at 35 mph in a 30 mph area at least 3 times a week). Around a quarter said they never exceeded the limit in a 30 mph area.

  • 19 per cent of drivers had driven at 70 mph on a 60 mph single carriage road at least once a week, with around one in ten doing so at least 3 times a week. The figures are similar for driving at 80mph in a 70 mph area.

  • People were far more likely to view 40 mph in a 30 mph area as speeding and unacceptable than driving at 35 mph, with just over 15 per cent doing so at least weekly.

  • Around a quarter of drivers disagreed with fact based statements that associate speed with collision risk.

  • 13 per cent of drivers said they never exceeded any of the speed limits asked about (30, 60 and 70); 7 per cent had exceeded all limits by a large margin at least once in the month prior to interview.

  • Drivers could be classified into a typology of drivers based on the frequency of their speeding and the extent to which they exceed the posted limits. This resulted in three groups being identified: excessive speeders (14 per cent); moderate speeders (33 per cent) and speed limit compliant (52 per cent).


Speed, driver behaviour, driver attitudes,


Mixed method study.