Speeding is very common amongst all motorists.

RTA speed surveys show that in 60 km/hr zones nearly one in five drivers exceed the speed limit by 10 km/h or more. In 100 km/h zones the proportion is slightly smaller - less than one in eight drivers. [RTA, Speed Problem Definition and Countermeasures Summary, 2000].

Excess speed is considered to have been a contributing factor in thef (51%) of all fatal motorcycle crashes and 83% of fatal single vehicle crashes. More fatal motorcycle crashes occur in areas zoned 60 km/h (45%) than areas zoned 100 km/h (26%).

Crash statistics suggest that excessive speed is more of an issue for motorcyclists than for other motorists. In 2007 speed was associated with 22% of motorcycle crashes compared to 16% of all motor vehicle crashes.

In 2001, RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) published a position paper on motorcycling safety which reviewed a range of British and European research. They found that 63% of motorcyclists and 69% of car drivers exceeded the speed limit on 30 mph urban roads. While the research did show that motorcyclists were more likely than car drivers to exceed the speed limit in higher speed zones (40 mph), it also noted that two thirds of British motorcycle casualties occur on the lower speed (30 mph) roads. While the risk and severity of injury increases with speed, only one quarter of motorcycle casualties but 60% of deaths occur on 40 mph roads in Britain. Motorways have the highest speeds but the lowest motorcycle casualty rates (2% casualties, 3% deaths). The conclusion in the RoSPA paper is that high speed riding and crashes are not the main areas of concern, and that interventions should be directed towards motorcycling at lower speeds.

The role of speeding in motorcycle crashes is the subject of some debate due to the way crash statistics are derived from police crash records. The NSW method of encoding for speed in crash statistics defines events that are considered characteristic of excessive speed, that is skidded, slid or the controller lost control. RTA Definition of speeding

The definition fails to recognise the different dynamics between single and dual track vehicles. While excess speed is likely to be involved when a driver loses control of a car, it may not always be involved when a motorcyclist skids or loses control. Loss of traction can occur at relatively low speeds if the rider is surprised by sudden change in the road surface.

The link between speed and motorcycle crashes in Australia needs to be further analysed as it is evident from discussions with police and forensic engineers that there are grounds to question the methods used to determine motorcycle crash causes.

This is not to suggest that excess speed is not an issue for motorcyclists, but merely to suggest that the NSW statistics may over-represent the incidence of speed related crashes at the expense of failing to recognize other factors.

Factors affecting the construction of the "speeding" statistics for NSW are discussed in greater detail under Crash Investigation and Research.

RTA Definition of speeding

Speeding is defined as excessive speed for the prevailing conditions.

For statistical purposes the RTA considers speeding to have been a contributing factor in a road crash if:

At least one driver/ rider was charged with a speeding offence; or

The vehicle was described by the police as travelling at excessive speed; or

The stated speed of the vehicle was in excess of the speed limit.

The vehicle was performing a manoeuver characteristic of excessive speed, that is:

  • While on a curve the vehicle jack-knifed, skidded , slid or the controller lost control; or

  • The vehicle ran off the road while negotiating a bend or turning a corner and the controller was not distracted by something nor disadvantaged by drowsiness or sudden illness and was not swerving to avoid another vehicle, animal or object and the vehicle did not suffer equipment failure.