The science of speeding

A world-first road safety campaign is using neuroscience to help Queenslanders to stop speeding.

We've all been there – you’re running late to work or to pick up the kids and, before you know it ,the speedometer has slowly crept above the speed limit by an extra five or 10km/h.

Despite 50% of all speeding crashes occurring at just one to 10km/h over the speed limit, many road users continue to speed.

‘Drive Smarter, not faster’, a world-first safety campaign from the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR), encourages drivers to use simple neuroscience-based exercises to reduce low-range speeding on Queensland roads.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey said the innovative campaign recruited people from around the state to test experiments to tackle unsafe driving.

“Speeding contributes up to 23% of the road toll in Queensland, but drivers continue to believe that speed, particularly low-level, is not dangerous and doesn’t contribute to crashes,” Mr Bailey said.

Participants drove as normal for the first eight days of the experiment and were given a series of experiments to try for a further 15 days.

Dash cams were used to capture real-time footage of motorists trying each experiment and the impact on their speed and driver behaviour.

Mr Bailey said the experiments showed small changes could have a significant impact on driver behaviour.

“In one experiment the act of acknowledging other road users increased driver’s awareness of others and reduced their incidences of speeding by 26%,” he said.

The campaign was developed with leading Australian neuroscientist Dr Lucia Kelleher to make drivers more aware of their driving behaviour and change long-term habits.

“Our brains are so busy these days and it’s a big reason why people are speeding, and these experiments give people the tools to make positive changes,” Dr Kelleher said.

Last year, 60 lives were lost on Queensland roads as a direct result of speeding.

“Research shows speeding only saves you 77 seconds on an average urban commute,” Mr Bailey said.

“Saving a few seconds by speeding is not worth the tragedy of dying or killing someone else on the road.”

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