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16 November 2020 | Comment | Article by Ciaran McCabe

Road Safety Week 2020 – “no need to speed”

Road Safety Week is an initiative from Brake, the road safety charity. Brake founded and runs the event annually, to raise awareness and promote road safety year-round.

Brake supports people affected by road crashes and campaigns for safe and healthy mobility for all. Someone is killed on a road every 24 seconds and globally there are 1,350,000 road deaths each year, whilst in the UK there are 160,000 casualties from crashes on roads each year. Brake’s aim is to create “a world where everyone is free to move in a safe and healthy way, every day”, as they have the right to. Their Zero Vision Goal is for zero road deaths and serious injuries.

Hugh James work closely with Brake and recently co-hosted a series of roundtable meetings with the police, the medical profession and other charities involved in helping victims of road crashes. The aim of the meetings was to look at how the groups involved can work together and better support victims of road traffic collisions and their families, including signposting to services and improved access to treatment and rehabilitation.

Andrew Harding, head of the Neurolaw department at Hugh James said of the roundtable meetings, “they were really positive meetings and everyone who attended contributed to a very positive view of how things can be improved for the benefit of victims and a better way forward”.

The theme of Road Safety Week 2020 is speed. Three in four UK drivers admit to breaking speed limits, with a quarter of drivers estimating that they break the speed limit on more than half their journeys. One in four fatal crashes on UK roads involve someone who was driving too fast, with the risk of injury significantly increasing with speed. For example, if a collision occurs at 30mph, it has twice as much energy and destructive potential than if the collision had occurred at 20mph. Moreover, if a pedestrian is hit at 30mph, there is a 20% chance that they will be killed. However, this drops considerably, to 2.5%, if they are hit at 20mph.

UK national speed limits for cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles:

  • Built-up areas -30mph (48km/h)
  • Single carriageways -60mph(96km/h)
  • Dual carriageways -70mph(112km/h)
  • Motorways -70mph(112km/h)

Young drivers in particular often underestimate the risks associated with speeding. They lack experience and may not react appropriately to dangerous situations and control their vehicle to avoid a collision. Road deaths are the number one killer of people aged between five and 29 and over 4,000 young UK drivers are killed or seriously injured on the roads each year. One in five young drivers are involved in a crash within a year of passing their test, and it should be noted that a license will be cancelled if a driver receives six points or more within two years of passing their test.

Deborah Johnson, Chair of Brake and Consultant Lawyer at Hugh James, says “My grandad Abe was killed by a young driver as he was crossing the road. The young man was driving 43 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone. This is a tragedy that was devastating to our family and left my grandma a widow. The driver will also have to live with that for the rest of his life. Speed limits are there for a reason and should be adhered to”.

Whilst breaking the speed limit may often be tempting to drivers, there is relatively little to be gained, especially when the risks of speeding are considered. For example, Cardiff to London is 151 miles. Driving at 70mph, this would take two hours and ten minutes. Breaking the speed limit and driving at 75mph, the journey would two hours and one minute. Further, if drivers reduced their speed by an average of just 1mph, crash frequency would in turn reduce by 5%.

So, this Road Safety Week, and every other week, remember, there’s “no need to speed”.

Author bio

Ciaran McCabe


Ciaran McCabe is a Partner and joint head of the National Serious Injury Department. The department was awarded Claimant Catastrophic Injury Team of the year at the PI Awards in 2021. He has specialised for over 20 years in assisting both adults and children, through England and Wales, who have sustained life changing injuries to the brain, spinal cord and limb loss.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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