Research conducted by the University of Western Australia has found the less leeway given to road users before being slapped with a speeding fines correlates directly with the ability to detect hazards — or vulnerable road users.
In other words, drivers (and indeed riders) in areas with a zero tolerance policy –– where you can be fined for travelling one or 2km over the sign-posted limit –– are actually at more risk than road users driving in areas given more leeway, the study found.
Using a driving simulator set to a 50km/h speed zone, 84 people were told that they could be booked if they were found driving at either 51km/h, 57km/h or 61km/h. During the simulated process, small red dots were then introduced into each of the driver’s peripheral vision and the results revealed participants with the one-kilometre threshold were least likely to identify hazards, or other road users like motorcyclists.
“We concluded that drivers’ mental and visual resources were being used up by paying extra attention to the speed monitoring task, and this was taking some of their attention away from the visual world around them when they were driving,” researcher Vanessa Bowden told the ABC.
Surveyed participants also said the simulated driving experience in the one- and six-kilometre threshold zones was far more difficult and demanding than the 11km/h threshold.
“There can be a perception that by making it stricter you’re only going to get benefits, like you’ll get everyone driving more slowly and more safely,” Bowden continued. “But you can’t necessarily make drivers pay more attention to the speed and go more slowly without taking their attention away from some other critical aspect of driving.”