The excess speed (exceeding the posted speed limit) and inappropriate speed (faster than the prevailing conditions allow) are recognised as major causes of road accidents and fatalities.
High speed reduces the possibility to respond quickly to an emergency situation. A human brain needs some time to process information and decide what action to take. When a vehicle moves at high speed, a driver does not have sufficient time to process information and take a decision. Moreover, the more the speed, the longer it takes for a car to stop. It is more difficult to avoid a collision moving at high speed. Finally, higher speed causes more severe injuries.
According to the European Commission’s impact assessment study, 30% of road deaths were caused by speeding, 25% by drunk-driving, 17% by non-use of seat belts (estimates of 2004) making speeding the most serious issue for EU road safety enforcement agencies.
Automated devices are now widely used to enforce speed limits. Almost all Member States use fixed as well as mobile cameras. It has been proved that automated camera have significantly contributed to improving road safety.
National governments are responsible for setting up speed limits in EU and the current general speed limits vary across all Member States. For rural road and urban areas, it is usually for a local road authority to determine speed limits.
Heavy good vehicles and buses are subject to lower speed limits in the EU. The general speed limit for motorways in EU Member States is mostly 120 or 130 km/h, for rural roads between 80 or 90 km/h and for urban roads 50 km/h.