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Half of drivers admit to breaking the speed limit when overtaking on derestricted rural roads according to research released today.

Even more alarmingly, the research by Brake, the road safety charity, and Green Flag Motoring Assistance, found that more than one in ten drivers (11%) admit to overtaking when they can’t see what’s coming the other way.

The research - a survey of nearly 1,000 drivers - also found that more than a quarter of drivers (27%) broke the speed limit to overtake on derestricted roads at least once a month.

According to statistics from the Department for Transport, nearly two out of three driver deaths occur on non built-up roads. In 2002 only 23% of crashes happened on non built-up roads, but 53% of all fatalities happened on these roads.1

Prominent cases in the media indicate that many head-on fatal collisions are caused by high speed, head on collisions when overtaking on rural roads.

Brake and Green Flag’s survey shows that high-risk driver behaviour such as speeding and overtaking blindly is likely to be the cause of many crashes on these roads.

Mary Williams OBE, chief executive of Brake, says: “Today’s findings are a shocking insight into the number of drivers who are risking their lives and the lives of others with alarming frequency. Head-on collisions are the cause of some of the most horrendous crashes, resulting in high numbers of fatalities and serious injuries. Overtaking blindly at high speeds on winding and narrow rural roads can have lethal and devastating consequences. The Government needs to act immediately to driver behaviour on rural roads in order to stop more lives tragically being lost.”

Green Flag spokesperson Nigel Charlesworth says: “It still surprises us that some irresponsible people still play fast and loose with their lives and the safety of others by taking unnecessary risks behind the wheel. Driving on country roads needs a different mindset as there are hazards to be aware of, either from vulnerable road users such as walkers and cyclists or slower-moving agricultural vehicles and the need to overtake safely.”

Brake's advice for drivers on rural roads:

Only overtake if you are 100% certain that the road ahead is clear and you can overtake within the distance without going too fast for the conditions or breaking the speed limit;

Don’t break the speed limit to overtake in case something is coming the other way. The faster you drive the more likely you are to kill yourself and others if you hit an oncoming vehicle;

Never overtake on single carriageway roads with a double white line in the middle;

If you have to speed to overtake then you shouldn’t be overtaking at all.

Brake, with Green Flag Motoring Assistance’s support, is forwarding this report to Government with the following recommendations for action by the Department for Transport and the Home Office to tackle speeding on rural roads:

Conduct an urgent review of all speed limits based on assessment of risk, especially 60mph limits on single carriageway, derestricted rural roads and in built-up areas

Make more funding available for more high-profile, peak-time, year-round advertising on television and radio about the risks of speeding. Advertising needs to be targeted and it needs to be educational. This should include specific campaigns on the dangers of speeding on derestricted rural roads and overtaking. Campaigns should be specifically targeted at young drivers, middle-aged company car drivers and motorbikers;

Remove restrictions on speed camera location that currently require four people to have been killed or seriously injured at that location before a camera can be installed – this restriction runs counter to the police and local authority duty of care to take all reasonable action to protect citizens from harm caused by criminal behaviour;

Encourage vehicle manufacturers to introduce digital speedometers so that drivers are always aware of their exact speed;

Make all driving bans a minimum period (e.g. 6-12 months) to ensure they are an effective enforcement measure.

CASE STUDY: Leah Giles
Leah, 19, was killed in a head-on collision on 9 September 1997 by a driver overtaking another car on the brow of a hill. Leah, driving back from her waitressing job, died immediately. The other driver later died in hospital. Although it could not be proved that he was speeding at the time, witnesses stated the driver had been racing his new car along that stretch of road earlier. Leah leaves behind her parents, her brother Matthew and both sets of grandparents

To interview Mary Williams OBE, contact Simon Collister, Brake’s campaign officer on 01484 559909, or out of hours, 07971 612857
Green Flag: Melanie Denny 0113 399 1387

Notes to editors:

1. Road Casualties Great Britain 2002: Annual Report (Department for Transport, 2003)

The statistics in this report are based on a survey of 850 drivers and motorbike riders, carried out by Brake’s volunteers, from February to April 2004. The volunteers questioned a cross-section of drivers and riders in a variety of locations and included drivers and riders of all types of vehicle who drove mainly for work as well as those who drove mainly in their free time.

Brake is a national road safety charity funded by Government and individual donations. Brake exists to stop the 3,400 deaths and 41,000 serious injuries that occur on Britain’s roads every year and to ensure that appropriate care is available for people traumatised by road crashes. Brake produces educational road safety literature and runs events including Road Safety Week (8-14 November 2004).

Green Flag Motoring Assistance provides roadside rescue and recovery to almost 5m customers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its incident management centre in Leeds handles around 1m calls each year. Green Flag is a sponsor of Road Safety Week and supports ongoing road safety campaigns.

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Green Flag Group in the following categories: Motoring, Travel, Transport & Logistics, for more information visit