Road safety groups hit out at Suella Braverman over speeding incident
Road safety campaigners have accused the UK home secretary of trying to downplay the dangers of speeding after she reportedly requested a private speed awareness course after being caught driving over the speed limit.
Suella Braverman became the latest minister to be caught committing a road traffic offence when she was clocked speeding last summer when she was attorney general.
According to the Sunday Times, Braverman asked officials to organise a one-to-one speed awareness course before accepting points on her driving licence when a private course was refused.
News of Braverman’s offence comes after the prime minister was fined for his failure to wear a seatbelt last year. Within the last year, two of Braverman’s ministers at the Home Office were banned from driving for six months. The immigration minister, Robert Jenrick, was caught driving almost 30mph over the limit and the security minister, Tom Tugendhat, was caught driving while using a mobile phone.
David Ward, the executive president of the Towards Zero Foundation, which campaigns to reduce road deaths across the world, said politicians were “normalising” breaches in road safety.
He said: “There is a worrying trend, whether its Rishi Sunak’s failure to put on a seatbelt or now Suella Braverman, when senior politicians really ought to be setting a better example.”
He added: “Going on a course in public is part of the penalty – by trying to somehow make it private, she was in effect trying to mitigate the impact. This makes it doubly complacent.”
Ward, who attended a speed awareness course after breaking a roadworks limit on a motorway, said: “They are a salutary experience and very effective. Doing it in a group is part of the experience.”
He pointed out that the Labour frontbencher Emily Thornberry was forced to apologise after an Instagram picture taken from her car showed her speeding.
He said: “It’s a problem for all political leaders. Politicians not only set the rules, they should be seen to be abiding by them. Road traffic speeds are set down to avoid deaths and serious injuries, which still remain a horrible problem.
“We now have something like 27,000 deaths and serious injuries a year, which is a huge burden and misery for all the people involved, and yet we sort of normalise it.”
Ward added: “Kinetic energy is what kills and injures and when it’s unleashed, it’s a very dangerous phenomenon.”
He said the government accepted a UN target to halve road deaths in a decade but “there is no evidence we are getting anywhere near that”.
Simon Munk, the head of campaigns at the London Cycling Campaign, said: “The police and the coroners and everyone knows that speeding is one of the most kind of dangerous forms of driving. And yet we have a senior politician essentially asking to sidestep the law. It is difficult to square that with reducing fatal road collisions.
“Politicians and people in public life who hold positions of authority, particularly where they’re responsible for public safety, should be held to a higher level of probity and responsibility.”
He added: “We don’t know how much she was over the limit, but if the attorney general at the time was speeding, that means driving beyond the safe limit and that’s not OK.”
Munk said attending speed awareness courses with other people was part of the punishment. “Part of the benefit of speed awareness courses is that drivers have to face each other and talk about what they’ve done. If you’re on your own, you can’t do that.”