Choosing not to speed: A qualitative exploration of differences in perceptions about speed limit compliance and related issues

  • Fleiter J
  • Lennon A
  • Watson B
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Abstract

Speeding research indicates that many factors influence drivers’ speed choice. Much of the speeding literature has focused on those who speed. This is understandable, given the significant contribution of speeding to road trauma. As a result, we have some understanding of the motivations of speeding offenders. However, we know little about those who choose not to speed. Increased knowledge about these drivers offers the potential for alternative perspectives on influential factors. This paper reports findings from a series of focus groups exploring the perceptions of 67 Queensland drivers, with special emphasis on drivers identifying as regularly speeding by large amounts, or as rarely speeding. Distinct differences between groups emerged. Rare Speeders reported making conscious choices about driving speeds based on a perceived legal/moral imperative and safety concerns. In contrast, Regular Speeders reported a lack of awareness of, or attention to, speed limits, appearing to base travel speeds on individual preference and convenience, rather than legal requirements. Perceptions of time-related pressures also differed. Rare Speeders described time- management strategies to negate the necessity for speed. For Regular Speeders, however, running late was prominent in justifications for speeding. Regular speeders described various strategies to avoid detection (e.g., camera site learning) and speeding-related penalties (e.g., fraudulent demerit point purchase, defiance of licence suspensions). These punishment avoidance experiences appear not to deter speeding, but to reinforce the perception that speeding is not dangerous and detection is far from certain. Overall, these results highlight areas for action in future research and policy development, as speed limit compliance remains high on the road safety agenda.

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Authors

  • Judy Fleiter

  • Alexia Lennon

  • Barry Watson

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