Choosing not to speed: A qualitative exploration of differences in perceptions about speed limit compliance and related issues.
Speeding research indicates that many factors influence drivers? speed choice. Much of the
speeding literature has focused on those who speed. This is understandable, given the
significant contribution of speeding to road trauma. As a result, we have some understanding
of the motivations of speeding offenders. However, we know little about those who choose
not to speed. Increased knowledge about these drivers offers the potential for alternative
perspectives on influential factors. This paper reports findings from a series of focus groups
exploring the perceptions of 67 Queensland drivers, with special emphasis on drivers
identifying as regularly speeding by large amounts, or as rarely speeding. Distinct differences
between groups emerged. Rare Speeders reported making conscious choices about driving
speeds based on a perceived legal/moral imperative and safety concerns. In contrast,
Regular Speeders reported a lack of awareness of, or attention to, speed limits, appearing to
base travel speeds on individual preference and convenience, rather than legal requirements.
Perceptions of time-related pressures also differed. Rare Speeders described time-
management strategies to negate the necessity for speed. For Regular Speeders, however,
running late was prominent in justifications for speeding. Regular speeders described various
strategies to avoid detection (e.g., camera site learning) and speeding-related penalties (e.g.,
fraudulent demerit point purchase, defiance of licence suspensions). These punishment
avoidance experiences appear not to deter speeding, but to reinforce the perception that
speeding is not dangerous and detection is far from certain. Overall, these results highlight
areas for action in future research and policy development, as speed limit compliance
remains high on the road safety agenda.