Winter 2001, p.17

Kill Your Speed

Traffic safety experts agree that the problem of speeding has three solutions. The three E's of Engineering, Enforcement and Education. In each issue of T.A. magazine, forward-thinking engineering solutions to speeding, such as speed humps, widespread use of the NYC Traffic Calming Law, and safe routes to school are highlighted. In this issue, we have highlighted a tremendously effective speeding enforcement technique - photo-radar. Now it is time to look at needed education techniques to curb the epidemic of speeding in NYC.

NYC DOT's speed education campaigns have historically concentrated on educating the victims. For example, in response to the recent spate of deaths on Queens Boulevard, the DOT has taken to handing out flyers to senior citizens, and teaching children how to cross the street. While these efforts have their place, they must be balanced by an aggressive education campaign aimed at stigmatizing speeding as a dangerous and antisocial behavior on par with drunk driving. The British Government's "Kill Your Speed" campaign, started in 1987, does just that.

The centerpieces of the campaign are glossy and powerful television spots. For example, a black and white ad shows a young schoolgirl walking to school. In a voice-over she says: "You're going to kill me because you're late for a meeting, because you want to keep up with the traffic." In the last shot, a speeding driver - who can't stop in time - sees her through his windshield.

In addition, radio and print advertising, leaflets and posters further reinforce the message. Every round of the campaign is followed up with in-depth research to determine the effect of the ads on public attitudes. A typical year-long round of the national ad campaign costs $2.75 million.

While this may seem like a lot of money, the campaign has been tremendously successful. In 1987 the Government targeted reducing road deaths by one-third by 2000. By 1997, three years early, deaths had already been reduced by 36%, and serious injuries by 42%. NYC needs to target speeding with the same aggressive tone, and to stop targeting the victims of speeding.

The campaign's objectives are to:

  • Raise awareness of speeding and persuade drivers to recognize that their behavior is dangerous.
  • Educate drivers that driving over 30 mph in urban areas is unsafe, and that every mile driven over the speed limit grows more dangerous.
  • Change public attitudes towards speeding by making speeding as socially unacceptable and publicly condemned as drunk driving.
  • Convey the message that all drivers are responsible for their actions.

View materials and television spots from
the Kill Your Speed Campaign online at

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