No need to speed: Speeding still the biggest cause of car accidents

In the holiday season, we might roll our eyes at the double demerit points rule, but there is a good reason it’s in place. Speeding remains the number one cause of car accidents and road fatalities, not just in NSW but also around the world. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, caused by speeding or otherwise, talking to a car injury lawyer could help you get the compensation you’re entitled to.

In NSW alone, speeding contributes to 40 per cent of road deaths. During the period of 2008 to 2012, 818 people lost their lives and more than 4100 people were injured each year, according to government statistics. And over the past 18 months, Australian road authorities have expressed concern over an increase in road deaths nationwide.

Governments and policy makers around the world continue to grapple with the problem of how to reduce speeding, car accidents and road deaths. So what is being done about speeding and how can we all help to improve road safety?

Speed zones and speed limits

In NSW, lower speed limits are in place for built-up areas where there are many people about. The default speed is 50 km/h for residential areas and anywhere there are buildings on the land next to the road.

For some areas the limit is reduced further to 40 km/h where there is high pedestrian activity. These are usually signed and include school zones, shopping strips and busy areas in the CBD.

Elsewhere, designated speed zones regulate safe limits depending on the quality of the road, with 60 km/h and 80 km/h limits most common in urban areas.

For rural and non-built-up areas the default speed limit is 100 km/h. On motorways, the maximum speed in NSW is 110 km/h wherever signed.

Speeding, road rules and enforcement

Enforcement of the speed rules is important to reduce the possible occurrence of car accidents. It helps ensure that motorists drive at speeds that are safe for the road they are travelling on.

Fines, demerit points and loss of licence are all penalties available for people who exceed the limit, with prison sentences available for the most extreme and reckless cases where lives are endangered. The loss of double demerit points is often enforced during public holiday periods.

Loss of licence

If you’re caught driving at more than 30 km/h over the speed limit you can lose your licence for a minimum of three months, and a minimum of six months if you’re caught driving at more than 45 km/h over the limit.

What can you do to help?

It’s up to everyone to help keep our roads safe. Here are some things you can do to reduce the possibility of car accidents due to speeding:

  • always monitor your speed while driving and stay within the designated limit
  • drive according to the weather conditions and slow down when visibility is poor and the roads are slippery
  • always keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front of you and leave more when travelling at high speeds
  • if you’re in a vehicle that’s travelling too fast for the conditions, ask the driver to slow down.

Further reading

Speed management: a road safety manual for decision-makers and practitioners, Geneva, Global Road Safety Partnership, 2008 (download from

NSW Speed Zoning Guidelines, NSW Centre for Road Safety (download from

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