Australian researchers from HighRoad Automotive Research have claimed that their studies show that rather than causing accidents, speeding actually helps prevent them. Somehow, I don’t think that the governments around the country are going to let science get in the way of their revenue raising speed cameras… UPDATE: It’s turns out it’s a scam study. If only I watched Top Gear, I would have known…
The study’s findings indicate that when travelling at faster speeds, drivers focus more on the road than at slower speeds, with the perceived additional danger of driving at speed triggering an increased endocrine reaction in the brain. This allows for faster reaction times, as well as a heightened focus on the road.
The study continues to conclude that reducing speed limits actually increases the risk of accidents, because drivers have a slower reaction time:
It has been consistently found that the higher a vehicleʼs travel speed (even when driving at or under the legal limit), the greater the focus of the driver on their surroundings. The increased perception of danger triggers an increased endocrine reaction within the brain. This, in turn, forces the individual to play closer attention to objects in motion around the vehicle. Even relatively small changes in vehicle speed can result in substantial increases in spatial acuity and
The report goes on to explain its findings and concludes that Australian speed limits should be raised by a minimum of 20kph and as much as 40kph to 150kph on motorways and divided roads. Not only that, but they suggest demerit penalties and fines for drivers travelling at slower speeds. While the argument that speeding may increase reaction time and awareness in drivers, it’s probably a step too far to suggest penalising slow drivers.
Still, as mentioned earlier, there’s no way governments are going to overhaul the current system to increase speed limits, regardless of the scientific merits of the study. But it’s sure to make for interesting discussions…