Almost everyone thinks it’s safe to zip past those pesky speed limits, potential tickets or not. A 2008 survey of American motorists found that fully 79% of drivers thought they were safe whizzing 10mph faster than posted limits, while more than a third believed speeds pushing 20mph over the speed limit was perfectly acceptable–provided they weren’t caught.
It’s not just the Americans who are crazed for speed, however. And drivers’ habits don’t change when they get behind the wheel of a company car, with their personal safety, company’s finances and reputation, and the security of customers and stock at stake. According to a recent survey conducted by MiX Telematics, 63% of British drivers of company vehicles admit to scorning posted limits, mostly because they believe there are few risks or consequences for breakneck speeds.
Our continental counterparts weren’t stuck in the slow lane either. Spanish drivers were the safest, with 40% claiming to never speed. Among the French, stereotyped for their lax approach to traffic laws despite the vigour of their police and size of their fines, slowpokes only accounted for 34% of working motorists. And in Germany, home of the famous Autobahn, only 20% of drivers of company vehicles don’t breeze past speed limits–when they even exist.
A belief that speeding has few consequences and lack of employee training accounted for most of the nonchalance about speed limits. Drivers most worried about being stopped by the police: in fact, 17% of truck drivers, 14% of van drivers, 12% of bus and coach drivers,and 9% of passenger vehicle drivers had been fined in the previous 12 months. Usually, the driver him/herself ate the fine. 16% worried about losing their driving licence, while just 13-14% worried about causing harm to themselves or others.
Despite frequent fines, few drivers are willing to slow down. Many cited packed schedules and numerous deliveries as reason for speed, but Steve Coffin, marking and operations director for MiX believes the problem originates even before drivers get behind the wheel.
“Our survey… found that more than three quarters of all drivers – 77% – receive no training whatsoever related to speeding while driving for work” he said. Companies are failing to properly educate their drivers about the safety and financial costs of flouting speed limits and driving recklessly, he said.
Telematics systems can help employers track and address speeding among their drivers and also shape customised training courses for them.
“Of the 23% of drivers who have received training, the majority were truck or bus and coach drivers. Within this group, 82% stated that their training had a positive influence on their driving behaviour,” Coffin said. And training didn’t just encourage drivers to be more conscious of speed limits: it also made them more conscious of other aspects of their driving, from acceleration to gear-changing to idling, leading to huge potential savings in insurance, damages, and fuel costs for their employee.