Monash University Accident Research Centre Report #140 - 1998
Authors: W.A. Harrison, E.S. Fitzgerald, N.J. Pronk & B. Fildes
Full report in .pdf format [524KB]
Previous research has shown that speed has a clear role in accident causation and
injury severity. A model of speed choice, derived from the literature, is presented and
explored using data collected from road-side surveys. A relationship was found between
drivers' attitudes towards speeding, such as feeling comfortable at high speeds and
perceived risk of detection, and their observed speed. Drivers' tolerance of illegal
behaviours was also related to speed choice, where those who were tolerant of illegal
behaviours drove faster than other drivers.
The characteristics associated with speeding, as defined in this report, can be used to
model characters in public education campaigns, such as the Transport Accident Commission
advertisements, or to target specific groups of the population as the recipients of
education and enforcement campaigns. This report closely follows the methodology used by
Fildes, Rumbold & Leening (1991).
This project is concerned with investigating the factors related to speed choice.
Substantial research has linked speed to crash causality and injury severity (Fildes &
Lee, 1993; Zaal, 1994; Garber & Gadiraju, 1989), thus it is important to understand
which factors influence speed choice in order to reduce the number and severity of
crashes. This project aimed to:
- collect data relevant to a model of speeding behaviour derived from the literature and
to determine its potential validity;
- to collect data concerning the general relationship between a number of variables and
speed choice; and
- to investigate the changes in speed behaviour since a similar project was conducted
almost ten years ago (Fildes, Rumbold & Leening, 1991).
The data collection method was similar to that used by Fildes et al. (1991) with the
view that comparisons could be made between the two studies. Three of the four sites used
in the earlier study were used in this project. These were the Calder Highway, Woodend,
Beach Road, Parkdale and Belmore Road, Balwyn. A total of 496 drivers were sampled and
surveyed at the road side after covert measurement of their speed.
The key results of the study were:
- A factor analysis was performed and observed speed loaded most strongly on the factor
which included loadings from most of the speed-attitude related measures. Faster drivers
felt more comfortable driving at relatively high speeds, had a history of speeding and
believed other drivers were travelling relatively fast. These drivers were also less likely
to rate travelling fast as dangerous, were more tolerant towards the range of illegal
behaviours included in the survey and they believed themselves to be safer than other
- Observed speed loaded less strongly on two other factors, one relating to age and the
other to work-related use of the vehicle at the time of interview. Older drivers tended to
drive more slowly, and faster speeds were associated with work-related trips, driving
larger cars which were not their own, and relatively high driving exposure.
- There was a positive correlation between tolerance of illegal behaviours and observed
speed, suggesting that it would be beneficial to conduct further research into the role of
moral development or social deviance in speeding behaviour.
- Faster drivers considered themselves to be safer than other drivers and reported feeling
comfortable at speeds above the speed limit.
- No conclusions regarding the effect of increased automated speed enforcement or the
Transport Accident Commission public education program could be made with regards to the
differences found between the Fildes et al. (1991) study and the current study. A number
of potential influences could not be controlled for, including changing economic and
demographic factors and changing road conditions, which may have changed the nature of the
sample interviewed in the sample.
It was recommended that:
- The results could be used to guide character selection in advertising material and/or to
define target groups towards which advertising should be directed. Key variables include
self-calibration, enforcement attitudes, moral attitudes, speed estimates, personal
characteristics and car use.
- The potential value of targeting corporate bodies should be investigated as a road
Sponsoring Organisation: Baseline Research Program - Department of
Justice, Transport Accident Commission, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ltd,