2 May 2022

New survey wants to know why Canberrans 'casually speed'

| James Coleman
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ACT Policing handed out 3980 speeding infringements during the 2020-21 financial year. Photo: AFP.

Queensland researchers are trying to get to the bottom of why and where Canberra drivers speed in a new online survey funded by the ACT Government.

The Queensland University of Technology received funding for the research under the ACT Road Safety Fund Community Grant Program and is undertaking the work through social media to find out just what we’re thinking when we speed.

The findings will then be relayed to the ACT Government so they know how best to tackle the problem going forward.

With a relatively small population and 5900 km of bitumen between us, the ACT enjoys some of the clearest roads of any other capital city in the world, making it all too easy to depress the accelerator that little bit too far. It turns out we are prone to a spot of ‘casual speeding’.

READ ALSO Insurance refund awaits Canberra motorists renewing passenger car registration

The survey takes about 20-minutes to complete and is completely anonymous. Respondents will also enter a draw to win one of ten $100 gift vouchers.

This is separate from the ACT Government’s attempt to better understand the community’s view of road safety cameras, which was undertaken by Monash. The public’s feedback is now in and the survey results will be released in mid-2022.

Another survey in 2018 of Canberra drivers undertaken by Monash University revealed 20 per cent “sometimes” exceeded the speed limit by 10 km/h or more, while over 40 per cent said they did so “very occasionally”.

Up to 85 per cent of respondents thought it acceptable to exceed the limit in a 60 km/h zone by 5 km/h. Less than 20 per cent believed police adopted a “no-tolerance” approach in such zones. A similar attitude was found in 100 km/h zones.

Car pulled over by police

Police target speeding motorists on Majura Parkway. Photo: Supplied.

The ACT Government has launched a number of anti-speeding campaigns, including ‘Think speeding is ok?’, designed to address low-range speeding. It espoused that “Just five or 10 kilometres over the speed limit really can make all the difference”, but the campaign seems to have made little difference.

ACT Policing meted out 3980 speeding infringements during the 2020-21 financial year. This is down 21 per cent from the previous year, largely due to a COVID-induced drop in traffic volume and police resources at the time.

Between 2015 and 2018, speed was identified as a contributing factor in eight fatal crashes, or 21 per cent of all fatal crashes.

When asked in 2018, over 20 per cent of Canberra drivers thought that if careful when driving over the speed limit, the chances of having a crash were low.

Up to 25 per cent of Canberra respondents strongly agreed enforcing the speed limit would help lower the death toll, while close to half believed that increasing the number of police officers on the road would improve driver behaviour overall.

READ ALSO Is it time to rethink Canberra’s roads?

Under its current road safety action plan, the ACT Government is already rethinking speed limits across the territory’s road network, such as reducing some limits from 40 km/h down to 30 or 80 down to 70. This would also see more mobile speed camera vans added to the current fleet of 10.

With the Easter long weekend starting tomorrow (15 April), ACT Policing is also reminding all road users that double demerit point periods will be in place for the Easter and Anzac Day long weekends.

During both periods all speeding, seatbelt and mobile phone offences attract double demerit points, as does riding without a helmet. All other traffic offences will incur one additional demerit point.

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Finally Relented10:53 am 30 Apr 22

We seem to be going back to the 70’s. Changing “t” intersections back to a hard t was how it was in the 1970’s…it does NOT slow people down – they just go straight into the far lane instead. If you don’t speed, you get EVERY single light as they are not synchronised. Speeding drivers get through. It’s like punishment for doing the right thing. Speed limits reduced which is supposed to safe guard pedestrians and cyclists….pedestrians just cross wherever they please without looking, expecting cars to stop -wherever!!. Speed humps everywhere causing rat running elsewhere. Stupid, dumb planning.

It’s very simple. As someone who has worked in road safety, these are the reasons: people including me opine that the speed limits are a) too low and b) too confusing . The ACT has over 6 different speed limits with sometimes 3 different ones on the same road! The 40 km limit on Northbourne Avenue is a disaster and has absolutely no policy rationale since there have been very few pedestrian accidents necessitating the new speed limit. The fines are draconian, over $350 for going 8 kms over 40 km per hour! It is blatant revenue raising. Secondly, one is human and prone to errors. Keeping metronomically to the limit is inhuman and counter to road safety since one is constantly looking at the Speedo! There have been numerous overseas studies proving this! Again older cars are penalised since they lack cruise control and digital speedos. It is a zero- tolerance, draconian system compared to the more humane approaches of the US and UK where tolerances of 15 miles over the limit and 12 kms over the limit respectively are applied. When people don’t trust the policy, it’s hard to enforce laws. The lack of discretion and the absence of warnings for first time offenders is draconian…….only in Oz!!

So what’s your reason for speeding then? Ambo? Firey? Police? Are you any of those? Or are you just one of the armchair experts who wants to make up their own rules to suit themselves. They’re a dime a dozen.

Astro,
I think it’s cute that you seemingly believe that actual experts were involved in assessing our roads and applying appropriate speed limits that maximise both safety and road functionality.

Mate, it’s not speeding when the so-called speed limits are set too low. There is no policy credibility at all. Just look at the mess Northbourne Avenue has become and the government is raking in huge fines. Driving a little over the limit is not a hanging offence and many more other offences are far more critical.

I think it’s delusional that you don’t think experts assess and apply appropriate speed limits. Thankfully it isn’t armchair experts like some of the more outlandish posts on this thread.

Sorry chettb but, according to the law, it is speeding when you go over the speed limit. If we allowed some of the attitudes on this thread to prevail there would really be a mess, not just on Northbourne but on every road. Just take it easy mate and keep to the speed limit…..unless you have some really good reason to speed?

Astro,
It’s funny how ignorant you are on this issue whilst trying to profess some actual knowledge on the topic.

You also didn’t actually read my comment properly because you’ve responded with a different point to the one I made.

It’s probably partly because with every speedbump the ACT government whacks down on the road, they’re declaring “we’ve given up expecting motorists to be driving at the speed limit” and “the signposted speed limit is irrelevant here anyway”

Modern cars are designed to handle faster speeds

Excellent points Hugh Spencer about education and community values. Most mobile speed cameras are for revenue raising not changing behaviour. In the UK they will have speed monitors in 30mph urban areas that show your speed and if you are under the limit it will flash a smiley face. That friendly gesture rewards drivers doing the right thing. The ACT hides their speed camera vehicles around corners with a “gotcha mentality”. Whatever you do, if it is off-peak and no cars on the road – don’t speed as there will be a speed camera on that road.

Well, gazmos, here’s a neat little trick if you want to avoid supplying more revenue; it’s called “stick to the speed limit”, neat, huh, they won’t get a cent of your hard-earned from speed fines and, gosh, unless you’re an ambo, a firey or a copper, do you really, y’know, need to speed? Got any good reasons why you should?

The reason the government imposes speed limits is because, as evidenced through the mere existence of traffic “accidents”, people think they’re better at driving than they actually are. Every posted speed limit is way beyond the limit of some drivers’ ability to react in that section of road.

How to trick the motorist. Hmm, put road works signs – 60 zone where it is normally 80. Where’s the roadworks? A couple of witches hats on the side of the road

Speaking for myself. The ONLY times I have EVER exceeded the speed limit in urban driving, had been as an inadvertent error caused by focus on a road / traffic situation. Probably many others would say so too. Who steps into their car, other than childish hoons, thinking: ‘Today I will deliberately speed’? I regard traffic police and speed cameras as ‘perfection police’. Who is a perfect driver? The emphasis on punishment achieves nothing but resentment at ‘revenue raising’. Better vehicle technology: adaptive cruise control which can be used in traffic, while keepling safe vehicle seperation and, importantly, WILL hold speed on hills is a must. And HEAD UP SPEED DISPLAYS!!

Michael Bertram8:57 pm 15 Apr 22

In Civic, I am now spending more time looking at my speedo than at pedestrians.

Lowering speed limits is just a quick and easy way to collect revenue.

One survey question is : “Some Australian jurisdictions are considering 30km/h speed zones for certain urban areas (e.g. high pedestrian zones, school zones, and local traffic areas). With these areas in mind, how appropriate do you believe this speed limit is:”
Despite trying to keep under the new 40km/h city limit in the city I still exceeded the limit by 7km/h and was given a $300 fine. 7km/h is equivalent to a fast walking pace. Many, many others were caught here and are appealing , which ties up police resources. Reducing the limit is unnecessary, unless the intention is pure revenue raising.

If we are giving other drug users a break surely speed should be included. ?

I generally keep to the speed limit which offends the tailgaters. Constantly changing the speed limits over a stretch of road causes confusion. Reducing the speed limits will only frustrate drivers and the recalcitrant speeders will continue their offending. If one in five fatalities (“Between 2015 and 2018, speed was identified as a contributing factor in eight fatal crashes, or 21 per cent of all fatal crashes”) can be attributed to speeding, what about concentrating on the other contributors. The speeding focus is lazy government policy and lazy policing. If the City Council thinks it can get to zero road fatalities they are dreaming. Just another over governance by our political overlords. I now have a team of goats to draw my cart down to the shops and back. Catch me if you can.

Because some of the speed limits are ridiculous. The Barton Hwy from the Roundabout to almost the Mitchell turn off use to be 100kmph, now 80! No consultation with anyone, no crash history to speak of. The road is straighter and Carries less traffic than the Parkway yet the Parkeay keeps it’s 100kmph (for now anyway). Likewise that stupid 40k section on Northbourne. It’s only a money collection speed limit.

If they fixed the speed limits to reasonable for the traffic and roads considering the cars of today, maybe people will keep to them.

There is also the fact that the speed cameras give you a 10% allowance and the cops unofficially 10k over the limit except in school zones.

These University surveys just seem to be guaging how far the government can push us without getting themselves voted out.

Many of the road deaths mentioned (from memory) occurred in the presence of drugs/alcohol/excessive speeds, not mum dad and the kids doing 4km over on their way to work.

Tougher sentencing laws for these serious offenders might help, yet our weak judges continually let people off with “good behaviour” for their displays of appalling behaviour?!

30 km zones? If they need to wind speeds down that low just close the street to cars!

Northbourne 40km zone in Civic, if you are genuinely concerned about safety here stop just issuing fines and install some physical restrictions such as road bumps. We all know it’s a 40 zone but it is incredibly easy to go through this ‘toll road’ at 44km.

Per vehicle driven kilometer, Canberrians are actually some of the safest drivers in Australia which is what makes our limited choice for overpriced car insurance an insult.

Had a look at the survey – there are some rather silly questions. E.g. how often are you aware of unmarked police cars in traffic. Unless I saw them whip out a siren and pull someone over, how would I know they were there?

Finagen_Freeman1:26 am 15 Apr 22

Some speed limits are too low. Modern cars have better safety technology.
Surely the research could include asking when was the last time speed limits were reviewed against average car capabilities. An example is braking distances; no longer do we need seventeen miles to wind down. Five metres takes an ABS car from 60kmh to zero.

I’m all for forty around schools and close to pedestrians, but out on the Tuggeranong freeway or Belconnen Way…100 plus is perfectly fine.

Hmmm, it’s almost like some speed limits are arbitrarily set too low and have little to do with overall road safety.

You mean those 40km/h speed limits were nothing to do with safety and trying to force the sheeple to walk/cycle to work?

Surely not. I don’t believe it.

ACT is firmly about safety, and assess every street, and that’s why some of them have 4-5 different speeds on them. Those tricky bits need to be done at 40.

Its only been about 5 years since we’ve seen those random vehicle inspection stations, or been breathalyzed surely all the messages have sunk in, or we be enforcing these things….

We even get extra driver training with the installation of all those driver training holes in most of the major streets.

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