Which antisocial behaviours are the British public most concerned about? University of Reading finds out
Release Date 11 December 2006
Speeding is top of the league when it comes to antisocial behaviour, a University of Reading study has shown. Thames Valley Police approached psychologists at the University of Reading and asked them to analyse the British Crime Survey - which considers the concerns of more than 17,000 people across the UK. Speeding traffic was rated as a significantly greater problem than all other antisocial behaviours, with 43% of the population regarded speeding traffic as a 'very' or 'fairly big' problem in their area. Furthermore, the perception of speeding traffic as the antisocial behaviour of most concern was held by both men and women - young, middle aged, and old. The study's authors, Dr Damian Poulter and Professor Frank McKenna from the University of Reading's Psychology department, replicated the findings in a second survey, which also found that 85% of respondents felt travelling immediately above the speed limit on residential roads was unacceptable behaviour. Professor McKenna said "It would appear that we have greatly underestimated the degree of public concern over speeding. "In comparison to concerns such as intimidation, vandalism, harassment, disruptive neighbours, drunkenness and drugs, speeding is the number one concern." Malcolm Collis, head of the Specialist Units, Thames Valley Police Roads Policing Department, said: "This justifies our tough stance on enforcing the speed limits on the roads in the Thames Valley. The driving force behind this is our determination to reduce the numbers of people who are killed or seriously injured on our roads. We will continue to carry out speed enforcement and promote our driver improvement diversion scheme, to help people through education stay safe on our roads." Respondents also reported strong support for enforcement, with 80% of respondents agreeing that speed enforcement was acceptable practice on 30mph residential roads. This is in line with previous evidence that the public accept the practice of speed enforcement. The survey examined a wide range of issues (16 in total) including intimidation, damage to property and vehicles, noisy neighbours, drugs, drunkenness, and litter. Dr Stephen Ladyman MP, Minister for Transport, said: "This research firmly demonstrates the considerable level of concern about speeding traffic in local communities. We remain committed to reducing speeding and the misery it can cause through a variety of means including engineering, education and enforcement." Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, Head of the Association of Chief Police Officers Uniformed Operations Business Area welcomed the study, saying, "For too long we have allowed the so called voices of the motorist to dominate the debate. "This important research clearly shows that the wider public strongly support speed enforcement and are concerned not only about reducing casualties, but clearly see excessive speed as anti social. This information should inform policy at every level, and police and local authority priorities should be re-examined in the light of this information". Robert Gifford, executive director for PACTS, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: "I welcome the publication of this research. It strongly supports both police and government action to reduce excess speeding and save lives on our roads. It is good to know that once again public opinion backs tough action." Kevin Clinton, RoSPA Head of Road Safety said "The public are right to be concerned about speeding drivers. Even in good conditions the difference in stopping distance between 30 and 35mph is an extra 21ft - more than two car lengths. Small amounts above the speed limit can turn a near miss into a child being knocked down." Jools Townsend, head of education at road safety charity Brake, said: "It comes as no surprise that the public are extremely concerned about speeding. Breaking the speed limit or going too fast for conditions is a contributory factor in 26% of fatal crashes, so the public have every reason to be worried about this issue. We urge the Government to listen to the public, and provide police with the resources they need to properly enforce our speed limits. We are also calling for the urban speed limit to be reduced to 20mph, to help prevent the tragic deaths and injuries of countless children and other vulnerable road users on residential roads." The paper is published in the journal Accident, Analysis and Prevention. Ends Notes for editors: Lucy Ferguson, Senior Press Officer, Reading University 0118 378 7388 L.Ferguson@reading.ac.uk Annie Tysom, PR Officer, Thames Valley Police 01865 846350 email@example.com Professor Frank McKenna Tel: +44 (0)118 378 8530 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Dr. Damian Poulter Tel: +44 (0)118 378 6798 Email: email@example.com This study was based on the British Crime Survey 2003-2004. The BCS is a face-to-face survey of householders aged 16 and over, and living in private households in England and Wales, conducted in their own homes by an interviewer, on a variety of topics relating to their experience of, and attitudes towards, crime. The full title of this paper is: "Is speeding a 'real' anti-social behaviour? A comparison with other antisocial behaviours, Accid. Anal. Prev. (2006)," by Dr Damian Poulter and Professor Frank McKenna.