The speed paradox: the misalignment between driver attitudes and speeding behaviour
This paper reports on a study investigating preferred driving speeds and frequency of speeding of 320 Queensland drivers. Despite growing community concern about speeding and extensive research linking it to road trauma, speeding remains a pervasive, and arguably, socially acceptable behaviour. This presents an apparent paradox regarding the mismatch between beliefs and behaviours, and highlights the necessity to better understand the factors contributing to speeding. Utilising self-reported behaviour and attitudinal measures, results of this study support the notion of a speed paradox. Two thirds of participants agreed that exceeding the limit is not worth the risks nor is it okay to exceed the posted limit. Despite this, more than half (58.4%) of the participants reported a preference to exceed the 100km/hour speed limit, with one third preferring to do so by 10 to 20 km/hour. Further, mean preferred driving speeds on both urban and open roads suggest a perceived enforcement tolerance of 10%, suggesting that posted limits have limited direct influence on speed choice. Factors that significantly predicted the frequency of speeding included: exposure to role models who speed; favourable attitudes to speeding; experiences of punishment avoidance; and the perceived certainty of punishment for speeding. These findings have important policy implications, particularly relating to the use of enforcement tolerances.