Speeding & Driving Behaviour

“It would appear that the driving hazards and the high accident record are simply one manifestation of a method of living that has been demonstrated in their personal lives. Truly it may be said that a man drives as he lives. If his personal life is marked by caution, tolerance, foresight and consideration for others, then he would drive in the same manner. If his personal life is devoid of these desirable characteristics then his driving will be characterised by aggressiveness, and over a long period of time he will have a much higher accident rate than his stable companion. (Toronto 1949)”

This was the conclusion made by a prominent Road Traffic Management Psychologist as far back as 1949. Nothing has changed for the better... If anything, things are much worse today! In fact, how many times do you find yourself rushing: to work… to home… to the dive shop… and to the dive site! How often do we hear: “Never mind, you can fill in the forms later…”. It is either “hurry up and wait” or “wait and hurry up… and so it goes... and with it go caution, consideration and consequences… - unwanted consequences! Even criminal consequences!
Effect of speed on risk
Racing drivers do not only have substantially more violations than the ordinary motorists, especially speeding, but also more crashes… (Sports Car Club of America).
Guidelines or laws, like traffic signs, do not influence safety unless followed or obeyed. It is the speed at which you actually travel, not the speed at which you ought to travel, that affects your safety[1]. So, please don’t travel at excessive speeds or be impatient in weaving or overtaking. Roads are allocated speed limits for a particular reason. Various traffic engineering principles are applied when deciding on an appropriate speed limit. Road width, frequency of crashes, predominant weather patterns and traffic flow are only some of the formulae that are applied. There are also various measures applied to control the speed of vehicles. These include permanent measures such as road markings and – signage. Ultimately, it is driver attention and adherence to the traffic signs and laws that determines whether or not all these measures were in vain.
Modern vehicles are much safer than the cars of old: ABS braking systems, power assisted steering wheels and airbags all entice drivers to think that driving is safe. It is certainly safer, but cars are also fast so collisions are still deadly. 

Traffic violations and speeding
Speed measurement is based on the simple scientific formula of time travelled over the distance it is travelled. Various speed measurement devices employed by traffic departments including (1) static lines placed and fastened on the road surface, at specifically measured distances apart (normally 3 lines); (2) on board speed measurement devices, which allow a patrol officer to measure a suspected speeding vehicle from his own moving vehicle; and (3) cameras and laser equipment, which are the most popular – particularly on freeways. All these methods of measurement are recognised in the law.
What motorists must realise, however, is that speeding in excess of 30 kilometres per hour above the speed limit result in a motorist forfeiting an Admission of Guilt fine option. In other words, if you are pulled over for travelling above 90 km/h in a 60 km/h zone, you will be arrested and charged with reckless or negligent driving. The result is a criminal record and the possibility of even losing your driver’s license.
The speed limits in South Africa are as follows: 
  • 60 km/h on a public road within an urban area
  • 100 km/h on public road outside an urban area which is not a freeway; and
  • 120 km/h on freeways.
A maximum speed limit of 80 km/h is imposed for (1) goods vehicles with a gross vehicular mass (GVM) exceeding 9 tons; (2) combination vehicles consisting of a goods vehicle (i.e. drawing vehicle and one or two trailers) of which the sum of the GVM of the goods vehicle and of the trailer(s) exceeds 9 tons; and (3) an articulated vehicle of which the gross combined mass (GCM) exceeds 9 tons. Public vehicles, such as minibus taxis, etc. also have a lower speed limit. This is due to the fact that they are commercially used and convey passengers and gods for remuneration. They have to have extra documentation for both the fitness of the vehicle and the driver, as well. The applicable legislation specifically mentions them as vehicles to which a lower speed limit is allowed. (Have a look at the rear of such a vehicle. It must display a yellow decal indicating the maximum speed it is allowed to travel at).
The law states that no person shall drive a vehicle on a public road at a speed in excess of the –
  • general speed limit which applies in respect of that road;
  • speed limit indicated by an appropriate road traffic sign in respect of that road; or
  • speed limit prescribed by the Authorities in respect of the class of vehicle concerned.
In the interest of its members and the public at large, DAN makes an urgent plea to all of our readers: SPEED STEALS, KILLS AND DESTOYS. IT CHANGES LIVES FOR THE WORSE AND OFTEN IRREVERSIBLY SO!

Driver behaviour

So why does a vehicle speed? Because the driver chose to do so? Who are the drivers that speed? Research offers some sobering facts: 
  • More males than female commit violations
  • Statistically speaking, males between 16 and 22 are the most dangerous drivers on the road
  • The number of speeding tickets is correlated to the chances of being involved in a fatal car crash 
Interestingly, certain personality types are more commonly involved in car crashes. Personality denotes stable character traits which don’t change over short time periods. Characteristics such as high hostility, in combination with poor self-esteem, with high job stress and self-reported tendencies to disregard speed and traffic rules relate most closely to accidents.
Compared to safe drivers, higher risk drivers are typically less mature, less intellectually-orientated, less academically successful, less interested in aesthetic matters, less motivated, negative towards compliance with laws, and generally less well-adjusted socially. They tend to be emotionally unstable, unhappy, asocial or anti-social, impulsive and under stress. They are also more likely to smoke, be paranoid, and be prone to developing personality disorders. Often an unhappy childhood, repressed feelings, low tolerance to tension tolerance, increased aggressiveness, and the pursuit of recognition plays into the dangerous mix. The chances are greater that there will be a past- or current dysfunctional family history. Unfortunately, cars – and speeding in particular – provide a very hazardous outlet for the unhealthy pursuit of independence, resolving deep-seated lack of identity, and meeting the need for peer acceptance. This results in risky behavior and ultimately crashes. Research also shows that speeding has little to do with meeting deadlines or keeping appointments. Speeding is motivated more by the enjoyment or the thrill of travelling fast, breaking the law and defying society, as various ‘selfies’ taken at 280kph illustrate most vividly.
So what should we do? Well, science has shown that speeding, at its most foundational causal level, is the symptom of relational disorder. As such it would be far better to resolve the outer and inner conflicts, than to keep on taking them out on the road...
We drive as we live… Why not drive well!

[1] Surprisingly, there are actually countries in which travelling too slow is illegal. This raises an important point: What seems to cause accidents is not so much the average speed but the range between the fastest and the slowest moving vehicles. Research indicates that cars moving together at high speed are not as dangerous as cars moving at different speeds, thereby resulting in ‘weaving’ and periods spent in the lanes of oncoming traffic while overtaking.
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1 Comment

Hellmuth Johl - September 1st, 2016 at 9:15am

Excellent article. Hopefully, this message will get through to those that need it!


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