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“Speeding should be every bit as unacceptable as drink driving,” argues police and crime commissioner

“There is something about motoring offences that society still thinks of as socially acceptable,” says Devon and Cornwall’s PCC Alison Hernandez

Speeding should be treated by motorists as every bit as socially unacceptable as drink driving, cocaine use or committing grievous bodily harm, says the police and crime commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez.

Hernandez’s comments, published this week as an opinion piece in Devon Live, come after local motorist George Peck complained to the press after he received two speeding fines during the same journey, for travelling at 36 and 37mph in a 30mph zone on the A379 near Plymouth, both in the space of two minutes.

> "Oblivious" speeding driver handed five and a half year jail term for killing six-year-old boy riding home from football practice 

70-year-old Audi driver Peck told Plymouth Live earlier this month: “I couldn't believe they wouldn’t agree that it was one offence, two minutes apart. Surely they would understand that that was the same offence, just two minutes later. I understood that having exceeded the speed limit once I was due for a summons, but I couldn’t believe I was due for two.

“It seemed to me the system was wrong if that was happening. If somebody gets caught by one, they’re almost certainly going to get caught by the other.

“I just think it’s a great pity when we’re supposed to, and want to, support the police and their efforts, they can’t show a little bit of common sense when dealing with what is a relatively minor offence. I can’t believe it does anything except rub people’s backs up the wrong way.”

> Do lower speed limits make you feel safer on the roads? 

Responding to Peck’s complaints – and his view that speeding constitutes a “minor” offence – Conservative politician Hernandez, who has served as Devon and Cornwall’s police and crime commissioner since 2016, wrote: “There is something about motoring offences that society still thinks of as socially acceptable.

“You couldn’t imagine someone complaining to the press, with their picture and name published, that they had been caught too many times by police with cocaine on them, or that over-zealous officers had insisted on charging them each time they committed grievous bodily harm.

“These average speed cameras are there for a reason. People live on these roads and are at risk from speeding drivers in an area with multiple obstacles. The cameras are there with the consent of the communities they protect.

“And, of course, there’s a simple way to avoid getting caught speeding.”

> Police across UK launch three-week blitz on speeding drivers to keep cyclists and others safe 

Hernandez, who says that “there are far too many deaths” on Devon and Cornwall’s roads, continued: “Appeals for clemency by drivers who flout the law and put others at risk are likely to fall on deaf ears when they reach Devon and Cornwall’s roads police officers. That’s because these poor officers had to knock on 47 doors last year to tell families that a loved one was never coming home.

“The tragedy is that most roads casualties will have been avoidable. And those who argue that they can drive safely at speed are simply wrong. Excess speed is a contributory factor in one in three crashes and can be the difference between life and death.

As the UK’s police forces near the end of a three-week speed enforcement operation, led by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, Hernandez concluded: “For the sakes of all of those who have lost a loved one all members of society, whether they are drivers or not, this week I will be asking you to do your bit to make speeding every bit as unacceptable as drink driving.

“And until there are no deaths on our roads, I will support action that ultimately takes licences away from the irresponsible and reckless, and make no apologies for it.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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ajuk.uk@gmail.com | 1 year ago
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If you want to make speeding less socially acceptable you set the limit using the 85th percentile method.
It's bizarre that people claim to want to make speeding less socially acceptable while simultaneously advocating for limits to be set at levels that help make speeding more normal and socially acceptable.

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chrisonabike replied to ajuk.uk@gmail.com | 1 year ago
3 likes

Wait - If you come back the next year and find the 85th percentile speed has gone up, you have to raise the limit, right? Does it hold for motorways? Can we apply the same idea to parking offenses?

I'm certainly for recognising the limits of the police and that humans are humans. A *much* better way is to make the road signal / limit the speed itself (eg. wide and straight with sweeping turns - people *will* go faster).

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bglWCuCMSWc

However - where we are right now speeding *is* socially acceptable and in part it's that we've done so much for driving and drivers while having minimal enforcement. We are in practice training people that is fine. So sadly if we want people to drive more safely it's going to mean some (externally imposed) discipline...

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BalladOfStruth replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
5 likes

chrisonatrike wrote:

A *much* better way is to make the road signal / limit the speed itself (eg. wide and straight with sweeping turns - people *will* go faster).

I'm so dubious of this working here. Come and stay with me for a week and I can show you how people drive on narrow, winding, blind single-track when they have each door-mirror in a different hedge.

*bang* *crash* "what d'ya mean? I din' do nuffin' wrong, it's signposted as 60! Why was you even there?!"

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chrisonabike replied to BalladOfStruth | 1 year ago
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Just not enough people and not enough "feedback" *.  Plenty of "local places" where the norm is ... quite different.

Is it the countryside?  Our centralising tendencies - dating from well before the motor vehicle - mean people there "have to drive" and increasingly far.  Motor vehicles definitely accellerated centralisation (and the expectation of what people "must" have).

A "bit of speeding" is acceptable in places more full of people where you don't even have to go far for amenties.  So is it more or less likely people will go hog-wild on the fringes?

More people - then even if those also followed the local pattern speeding would soon stop anyway because you'd often be sat waiting for the local farmer to tow away the blazing wrecks.

* There are limits to this, I grant.  I've seen a road in Scotland were there are multiple "wayside shrines" in a couple of miles to people who lost it there.  But the jobs and the shops (and the bars...) were at one end and the villages (and some young people) were at the other...

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to ajuk.uk@gmail.com | 1 year ago
4 likes
ajuk.uk [at] gmail.com wrote:

If you want to make speeding less socially acceptable you set the limit using the 85th percentile method.
It's bizarre that people claim to want to make speeding less socially acceptable while simultaneously advocating for limits to be set at levels that help make speeding more normal and socially acceptable.

The goal is not to make speeding less acceptable. The goal is to make vehicle traffic travel at a safe speed. The 85th percentile method does not achieve that goal.

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BalladOfStruth replied to ajuk.uk@gmail.com | 1 year ago
5 likes

ajuk.uk [at] gmail.com wrote:

If you want to make speeding less socially acceptable you set the limit using the 85th percentile method.
It's bizarre that people claim to want to make speeding less socially acceptable while simultaneously advocating for limits to be set at levels that help make speeding more normal and socially acceptable.

I think you’re somewhat missing the point. Speeding being socially acceptable isn’t the core issue – safety is, and speeding being viewed as socially acceptable is one of the things stopping us from tackling it. Raising the speed limits so that nobody is technically speeding anymore doesn’t achieve anything (it’ll probably make the roads less safe because then everyone will be doing 110% of the new limit).

Cars have gotten heavier and have gained more kinetic potential over the last 70 years, and people driving them have not evolved to have greater reaction times in the same period either, so speed limits should be set against pedestrian levels and pedestrian survivability rates when hit by a 2.5 tonne twat-panzer travelling at those speeds. In most cases, this means lowering them.

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ajuk.uk@gmail.com replied to BalladOfStruth | 1 month ago
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This is the urban myth that keeps coming up, people don't judge their speed by speed limits, or drive slightly under or over them, it's more down to the road's design.
Some of the more generous speed limits I've seen have compliance rates over 98%, compared to fewer than 1% compliance with some 20 limits.
This is the level it's at, I've even seen data showing me that there are urban roads with 40mph limits with lower average speeds than some roads with 20 limits, this is the extent to which it's not speed limits that dictate traffic speeds.

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hawkinspeter replied to ajuk.uk@gmail.com | 1 month ago
2 likes

ajuk.uk [at] gmail.com wrote:

This is the urban myth that keeps coming up, people don't judge their speed by speed limits, or drive slightly under or over them, it's more down to the road's design.
Some of the more generous speed limits I've seen have compliance rates over 98%, compared to fewer than 1% compliance with some 20 limits.
This is the level it's at, I've even seen data showing me that there are urban roads with 40mph limits with lower average speeds than some roads with 20 limits, this is the extent to which it's not speed limits that dictate traffic speeds.

Maybe there should be a minor road re-design after each collision in order to reduce the traffic speeds. Something like a chicane, or speed bump though that could be interesting on motorways.

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chrisonabike replied to ajuk.uk@gmail.com | 1 month ago
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Blimey - you rushed back a year later!

You keep asserting this, but it's clearly not "an urban myth" is it*?

I think a fair description of the interaction between people, road design and speed limits would be "it's complex".

Anyway, console yourself that stuff like changing limits probably makes people feel "something is being done" while we wait for the best solution (which I agree with you on) - road redesign.  Or even a 2nd class "fix" like "police it better".  I remain hopeful but (the seriously large sums of) money for either are no nearer appearing in policies or manifestos...

I hope I've not got you wrong - for example perhaps you're happy with the (higher limit / speed) status quo, or maybe even "take the nannying limits away and let people work it out for themselves"?

* "Urban myth" = either complete BS, a fairy tale, never happened or something which is wildly exaggerated.  In several parts of the UK (Edinburgh, Wales etc.) there is large-scale hard evidence - the numbers changed, the average speeds decreased.  They didn't all become exactly that number - but then they weren't before ("30" didn't mean "30 or below").

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andystow replied to ajuk.uk@gmail.com | 1 year ago
3 likes

ajuk.uk [at] gmail.com wrote:

If you want to make speeding less socially acceptable you set the limit using the 85th percentile method.
It's bizarre that people claim to want to make speeding less socially acceptable while simultaneously advocating for limits to be set at levels that help make speeding more normal and socially acceptable.

https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2020/7/24/understanding-the-85th-per...

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chrisonabike replied to andystow | 1 year ago
2 likes

This!  And don't forget the "How to address chronic speeding" is combined with another "standard engineering approach" diagram:

 * Is there congestion (are vehicles "moving too slowly")? -> widen the road, straighten it, add lanes, build a relief road...

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David9694 | 1 year ago
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Plymouth man caught speeding five times in 14 minutes - but doesn't get banned

So the 27 red lights I've jumped and three miles of pavements crowded with pensioners I've ridden already today (it's only 7:30) are in fact one of each. 

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/plymouth-man-caught-speeding-f...

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chrisonabike replied to David9694 | 1 year ago
2 likes

So in this case he actually got four charges because it went on each speed camera he was caught on.  He's still saying this isn't fair because "it was a journey".

I can hear the young lawyers cracking their knuckles.  Let's see - you can only be charged with speeding when you go over the limit - that's fair.  So as long as you never drop below 80, you could carry on as long as your fuel tank lasts and it's only one charge.

It's logical, otherwise if you stole a tanker full of petrol you could be separately charged with thousands of counts of stealing a litre of fuel, plus the tanker itself, the furry dice and the contents of the glove compartment...

In David9694's example the red lights and squashed pensioners now, they'd appear separable so you might have to plead to running through (or over) more than one.  Maybe you could then ask for the rest to be taken into consideration?  It better be a meaningful "journey" and not "established" red lights though - as a cyclist you're already under suspicion on both counts there!

As you can see I'm not a lawyer.  Maybe it's one to add to the review of road law that must be happening real soon now?

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David9694 replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
3 likes

But if I tell you that the sun was in my eyes and that none of the pensioners was wearing hi viz?

I also had a medical episode and my one year old was messing with my 'phone.

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Bungle_52 replied to chrisonabike | 1 year ago
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He says he was clocked at 50 by the first camera and then slowed to 39. Two questions.

Why did he get a speed awareness course for 50 in a 30?

Why did he think the speed limit was 40. It is crucial to the decision.  Street lights and no sign mean 30mph. He obviously didn't see a 40 sign as one wouldn't exist so why assume 40?

It was a magistrates court and he represented himself. He says he convinced the magistrates to use common sense. From what I've read it seems to me that magistrates and gulliblity go hand in hand.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Bungle_52 | 1 year ago
1 like

Yeah interesting on the 50 / 30 thing. Maybe 51mph was required to trigger a higher charge? Seems very lenient. 

As I've already mentioned, Plymouth has recently installed average speed cameras along a number of routes, mainly to distract rat running. On this road, its related to the development of Sherford and I assume minimising / mitgating against, the increase of traffic through Plympton the development has generated. Much of this road is four lane, and will be very quiet outside commuting hours. Crucially I understand that it used to have a 40mph limit. 

Whilst not justifying it, I can appreciate how easy it would be to assume the historic limit would still be in effect. However, I'm sure there is a saying about assuming things.... 

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Bungle_52 replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
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That makes a bit more sense then. Thanks.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to David9694 | 1 year ago
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I think your anology is not a direct comparison, its more that you jumped one set of lights, and there were 27 cameras to capture the moment, with each camera issuing you a ticket. 

I personally think the magistrates were right in doing what they did. To lose your licence due to an accumlation of points demonstrates an inability to change behaviour / respect the law. It irks me something rotten that serial offenders are allowed to us the 'hardship' excuse to avoid a ban, when they have had ample warnings and opportunities to make amends. 

In this case however, the driver has not been given that opportunity. 

The chap rightfully needs punishing, but I don't believe the offence merits taking this motorist off the road. 

6 points and a chunky fine seems appropriate to me. 

 

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David9694 replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
1 like

I think it sends the wrong message. Drivers are constantly dissing, evading and even vandalising any attempt at speed enforcement.

EDIT  Everything is negotiable - that's what I take from it, all helped by the Magistrates thinking "that could be me".  

would the position be any different if he had've dropped below the limit and then over it (let's assume his speed is monitored on a constant basis - wouldn't that be nice) or is it more just that he passed each monitoring point/through each monitored zone at excess speed?

I think a lot of upset pensioners around me would want to know that. 

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to David9694 | 1 year ago
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I am on board with you around the contempt many motorist show towards speed limits and enforcement. 

However, I look at it positively that magistrates will review a situation with a  wider perspective, and regulate punishment as they deem appropriate. 

In this instance, rather than 'that could be me', I'd say the thinking was more likely; 'do I believe this person's account? is this a genuine mistake that could be made by an otherwise law abiding citzien? is the potential punishment appropriate to the offence?' 

Not sure what you mean by the varying speed comment. Personally a consistent speed would be more suggestive that the driver was driving to an incorrect understanding of speed limits, rather than actively recklessly, so arguably better? 

What are you doing to your local pensioners to upset them? 

 

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Hirsute replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

 

What are you doing to your local pensioners to upset them? 

 

I think that was just a pastiche of recent driver excuses.

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David9694 replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
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How long has to elapse between offences for a new one to start? 15 minutes, an hour, a day?

If you drove through a 1 mile 30 mph limit at 40 mph but were caught on cameras at every quarter mile, how many speeding offences? If you dropped below 30 for a bit 4 times and went over again each time, would the answer be any different? 

In central London I could cycle through 27 red traffic lights in close succession - how close, or how long between each one for it to be 27 or 1 or something in between? Maybe if I did it in two batches like our friend? 

Remember: what ever inch you give drivers, they will be back for a mile before you know it. 

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Rendel Harris replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
1 like

Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

I think your anology is not a direct comparison, its more that you jumped one set of lights, and there were 27 cameras to capture the moment, with each camera issuing you a ticket. 

With respect, I don't think that's a terribly good analogy either, given that the offences were committed over a fourteen minute period (and presumably a considerable distance, given the speed) and the driver himself admits that the limits were well signposted; it's more as though someone jumped a red light which had a big sign on it saying that there was a camera to catch them and then went back and did it three more times.

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Jimmy Ray Will replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
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The road is only a couple of miles long, so I'm guessing the 14mins will reflect an out and back journey as he stated he was dropping something off. 

My understanding was that the driver admitted that the signage was there to be seen, its just that, having previously driven that road many times, he didn't look for them. His assumption being that the speed limits hadn't changed since his last visitation. They had.  

Again, my view is that to take this person's licence for failing to note one change of speed limit, on a single stretch of road, is excessive. 

I'd like to think that he will have learnt a lesson from this, and should at least be given a chance to demonstrate that. 

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to Jimmy Ray Will | 1 year ago
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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

The road is only a couple of miles long, so I'm guessing the 14mins will reflect an out and back journey as he stated he was dropping something off. 

My understanding was that the driver admitted that the signage was there to be seen, its just that, having previously driven that road many times, he didn't look for them. His assumption being that the speed limits hadn't changed since his last visitation. They had.  

Again, my view is that to take this person's licence for failing to note one change of speed limit, on a single stretch of road, is excessive. 

I'd like to think that he will have learnt a lesson from this, and should at least be given a chance to demonstrate that. 

Holy moly. This guy has repeatedly been caught speeding at up to 66% over the speed limit and has admitted that he doesn't even bother to look for speed limit signs, and you think he should keep his licence. Weird take.

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mike the bike | 1 year ago
9 likes

The amount of public energy, time and thought spent on this particular crime must generate enough heat to power us through the winter.  I'm a firm believer in keeping things simple and, when I am King, I shall change a few things:

Speeders shall no longer benefit from the generous 10% + 2mph allowance.  Speeding is speeding and we shouldn't do it.  Not at all.  

All speeding fines, warnings and improvement courses will be stopped.  Instead speeders will, without exception, simply have to retake the basic driving test.  After all, if they are skilled enough drive fast they should have no trouble with a test.

I am still formulating suitable restrictions on Audi drivers and will keep you up to date.

 

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IanMSpencer replied to mike the bike | 1 year ago
4 likes

I can't remember if I've posted this here before, but I can quite see retaking a test as a sensible solution for any careless driving offence or more serious. Having been convicted, there should be a 3 month window for a retest, and a failure is the immediate rescinding of the licence, as is failure to take the test within the time window.

The reality is that retaking the test for speeding would collapse the testing system based on the volume of speeding and then you would have problems with it being demonstrably unfair to insist on a retest if no capacity was available to provide retesting, but multiple speeding offences should trigger a re-test. There would obviously be a volume problem on other offences, but generally "Licence as a Privilege" has got to be the way to go and I am sure the instructors of this world would appreciate the extra business - though sitting next to an experienced driver bemoaning their fate for hours might not be much fun..

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wycombewheeler replied to IanMSpencer | 1 year ago
3 likes

IanMSpencer wrote:

The reality is that retaking the test for speeding would collapse the testing system 

Consider that to be part of the penalty, if so many drivers are breaking the laws and needing a retest it would not be a bad thing if some of the were removed from the roads for a while.

Prioritise first time drivers in test bookings.

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ShutTheFrontDawes replied to wycombewheeler | 1 year ago
1 like
wycombewheeler wrote:

IanMSpencer wrote:

The reality is that retaking the test for speeding would collapse the testing system 

Consider that to be part of the penalty, if so many drivers are breaking the laws and needing a retest it would not be a bad thing if some of the were removed from the roads for a while.

Prioritise first time drivers in test bookings.

I would whack up the cost of the re-test and make the initial test free and prioritised. Make the stupid drivers subsidise the inexperienced ones.

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PRSboy | 1 year ago
5 likes

I don't disagree, but there is a wider issue that (lack of) punishments doled out for people who kill and maim in their vehicles do not reflect the seriousness of their crimes.  It is time, for example, that the notion of lifetime bans was explored properly.

Also, mobile device usage should also be treated the same as drink driving (ie two year ban).  6 points plainly isnt working.

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