Speed – the biggest and most contested road killer
Speeding is arguably one of the most prevalent, if not the most prevalent, behavioural factor
involved in fatal road crashes. However, the interventions to redress this continuing serious
threat to public safety are amongst the most controversial done by governments in Australia.
Media outcries of “revenue raising” when speed cameras are installed are deafening. This is
despite the voluminous evidence that speed cameras save lives. In early 2012 there were a
number of current affairs programs on commercial TV channels and web internet discussions that were blatantly anti-speed camera enforcement. Expert road safety researchers have attempted to present the facts and provide evidence-based opinions about the injury risks of speeding and the safety benefits of speed camera enforcement. Australian community surveys have indicated that the majority of people do understand that speeding is a road safety risk, and they support speed limits and speed enforcement. But broad public and media understanding of the issues are still confounded by misleading publicity and opinionated nonexpert mass and social media discussions of views opposing speed enforcement and even views that disagree that speeding is a road trauma risk. This paper explores this phenomenon, discusses issues concerning mass and social media and suggests ways to address the problem.