DRIVING is one of the most dangerous daily activities that most people do, with careless driving killing or seriously injuring an estimated 150 people every week in the UK.
The majority of these tragedies can be prevented by drivers reducing their speed, say campaigners.
Across Gwent, many areas have been affected by speeding, with one speed camera on the A4042 near the Riverfront Arts Centre, Newport, catching a huge 23,582 speeding drivers in the last three years in a 30mph zone, amounting to fines of more than £1 million.
New research from MORE TH>N Car Insurance, who investigated the nation’s speeding habits, has shown that 1,340,680 UK drivers received penalty points or were disqualified from driving in the past 12 months alone, while 818,768 drivers were penalised for speeding offences (2,243 every day.)
Meanwhile, 20 per cent of all drivers have received penalty points in the last 10 years as a result of driving too fast.
This research highlights that speed-obsessed drivers are clueless about basic road signs.
Key findings from the research show that a third of drivers don’t know the meaning of basic road signs such as ‘national speed limit’ and ‘slippery road’.
The findings are extremely worrying, says road safety charity Brake.
Senior campaigner Gary Rae said: “The research suggests that a significant proportion of drivers seem to think that it is OK to break the laws of the road.
“It can never be acceptable and we urge all drivers to respect road safety laws, and recognise that such laws exist to help save lives.
“Speed limits are just that – a limit – not a target to exceed,” he added.
Marshfield in Newport, is another area blighted by speeding over the years says local councillor Richard White.
“There is speeding particularly down the main road despite the fact that there is a 30mphand 20mph speed limit in place,” he said.
“They are also speeding along the rural roads, particularly the coast road on weekends where it seems to be used as a racetrack for motorcyclists and other road users.
“Penalties need to be of sufficient magnitude to reflect the offence, but the problem with speeding is that unless there are speed cameras in place it’s going to continue.”
Worryingly across Wales, 60 per cent of drivers don’t know what the national speed limit sign is, according to MORE TH>N.
Janet Connor said: “These findings shows that there’s a worrying number of drivers that seem to think that speeding is acceptable everyday behaviour and it is OK to break the laws of the road.
“Regionally, 60 per cent of those surveyed from South Wales were unable to identify the meaning of basic road signs such as the national speed limit, which really is very shocking.
“Speed limits are there for a reason and we urge drivers to slow down, read the highway code, and not put themselves and others at risk when on the road.”
And it’s not just points that are being accumulated.
The minimum fine for breaking the limit is now set at £100 and this is combined with the fact that the average car insurance premium will increase by 13 per cent for a speeding offence.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “Speeding is dangerous and puts the lives of the driver, their passengers and other people at risk of serious injury or worse.
“Around 400 people a year are killed in crashes in which someone exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for the conditions.
“Driving at higher speeds also means that drivers have less time to identify and react to what is happening around them, prolonging the time it takes for the vehicle to stop, and raising the risk of a crash occurring.”
In light of this, RoSPA have come up with a list of top ten tips to make drivers conscious of their speed.
Tips include assuming lamp posts mean 30mph, until signs say otherwise, but remember it could be 20mph and remembering that speed limits are a maximum, not a target.
Next year the Government will be cracking down on dangerous drivers with tougher sentences for banned drivers who cause death on the roads and a new offence of causing serious injury while disqualified are to be introduced.
A disqualified driver who causes death will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years, instead of two years, and the new crime will carry a four-year term.
The Government said it was bringing in the changes after listening to concerns raised by victims’ families.
They are expected to come into force in early 2015.