Legal Speed vs. Safe Speed
Drivers who often face work-related time constraints can find themselves speeding or demonstrating risky behavior, leading to minor traffic violations. Some say that’s acceptable or necessary in their role. However, tracking drivers’ offences based solely on the legal speed limit is insufficient. This is because the safe speed for a road may actually be well below the legal limit. This is particularly true on rural roads. Data shows a disproportionate rate of fatal accidents on rural roads, despite very few drivers exceeding the legal limit.
Now you can have a better picture of which speeds are statistically proven to be safe on any given road, versus what is simply ‘legal’. Fleet managers can coach drivers to maintain safe speeds, thereby saving lives and reducing loss ratios.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regularly shows that more fatal vehicle transportation accidents happen on rural roads than on busy urban streets . Also, according to the data, only 15% of fatal car accidents occur near intersections — the other 85% occur on the open road.
What is a ‘Safe’ speed?
The appropriate speed for any given highway depends on the context-layout, width, surface, contour, conditions and time of day. As such, speed limits are often a very poor benchmark for accident risk, especially on rural roads.
Essentially, drivers must ‘read the road’ to determine a safe speed, particularly on rural highways.
Many telematics solutions primarily use legal speed limits to evaluate how speeding affects driving style. We often recommend the Quartix vehicle tracker. It’s unique in that it determines the speeds that are statistically proven to be safe on any given road. Also, it uses that data to identify at-risk drivers. This is based not only on the legal speed limit, but also mean speed distribution of free-flowing traffic.
A version of this article using British data first appeared on our UK site on 30th April 2019.
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