Half of drivers risk deadly head-on crashes by overtaking at speed
Of 942 drivers surveyed, 47% admit speeding at more than 60mph to overtake on country roads at least once in the past year, with 23% confessing doing this at least once a month. Incredibly, one in eight drivers also admit overtaking when they can't see what is coming in the opposite direction.
The results suggest that drivers continue to feel a false sense of security on rural roads, misguidedly believing that it is safe and enjoyable to drive at high speeds. In reality, drivers are much more likely to die on a rural road than any other type, with speed and overtaking major factors in causing deaths.
Ellen Booth, Brake's campaigns officer, said: 'It's high time we tackle this irresponsible and downright dangerous love of speed on our roads. Speeding down a country road isn't the epitome of freedom; it's the epitome of stupidity. Drivers who overtake at speed on country roads aren't just risking their own lives – they are selfishly endangering their passengers and anyone coming the other way.'
Commenting on the findings, Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: 'Brake are right to highlight the dangers of rural roads. The IAM believes that driver training, especially post-test training, is the real answer to this problem. Most crashes are not caused by breaking the speed limit but by the driver’s poor decision-making. Driving too fast for the conditions is only one example of this. A blanket speed reduction to 50mph will not stop the "looked but failed to see", "misjudgment of bends", "emerged from junction into path of vehicle" and the many of other human errors that the police record as the real reason for a crash. Nor will reducing the speed limit reduce the number of people who break that limit.
'Poor overtaking takes place at all speeds and is linked to inexperience and bravado, particularly in young men. This results in terrible injuries and deaths on our roads. Until driving experience on single carriageway rural roads is a compulsory part of the driving test, many young people will only learn about these roads through trial and error, where the most basic mistake can result in tragedy.'