How to Talk to People Who Speed

When someone says they speed, it’s important to comment rather than be silent.  How do we tackle this edgy topic?  20’s Plenty aims for social communication, changing norms to civilise built up roads. We say, listen to their story, aim to empathise and then explain how their speeding impacts upon you and society.

When walking and we observe driving that’s excessively fast, it’s not easy to stop and talk sense as they are out of reach too quickly. It’s frustrating. Speeding is deeply anti-social behaviour that, as a society, we must tackle for healthier streets.  Options include volunteering with a community speed watch to hold a speed gun and note number plates – a blog on this is at  Or we could record a mobile phone video and post it on neighbourhood websites. Request that the speeder is named and if anyone knows them could they please talk to them about changing their behaviour.

Suppose a work colleague or family member starts a discussion about being caught speeding, claiming the ‘victim stance’ that they weren’t really doing anything wrong.  Rather than say nothing, you could politely request to speak to them alone.  Perhaps invite them for a private chat over coffee. Listen and then in a brief, straight, clear way name your feelings and need to be safe and ask them to take care on the roads to observe the limit.

Marshall B. Rosenberg is the author and founder of the nonviolent communication (NVC) movement.  It emphasises empathy, compassion and understanding to authentically connect without blame. NVC considers observations, feelings, needs and requests from both side’s points of view. For example:-


The Speeder –‘claiming to be a victim’

NVC levels

Person Listening to Speeder (Me)

Eg 30mph in a 20mph limit, got a ticket


10 mph (50%) over the speed limit

Shame and guilt bubbles up. They are unwanted so I blame others for the apparent injustice of being caught, anger over the fine, not seeing 20mph signs, feel the limit is too low or penalty overly harsh, sure that I am a ‘safe’ driver even when I was hurrying


Sad, upset, helpless, in danger, worried for myself and people I love, that other vulnerable people, are unprotected from danger, shocked angry, appalled.

I began talking about speeding hoping to fit in, be accepted, be listened to, release my pressure or shock, for confirmation, affirmation, to play a role, to find others on my side, others who speed when late.


To feel safe from speeding drivers, to be cared for, protected, wish for calmer streets, less noise, greater sense of community, for children to be able to get around independently, for better air quality, for more active lifestyles

I began talking about speeding as a victim because I was requesting sympathy and affirmation from others that I am not guilty, wrong or unusual. My request Is to seek others who also admit or boast about it


Please can we talk about speeding over coffee? I respectfully ask you to slow down and observe the speed limit so that my legitimate feelings and needs to be safe, as well as the feelings of others are met when you are driving in future.

Saying that speeding is not OK as it violates my need to be safe is part of how we make our streets better places. Not saying that it is wrong endorses a view that speeding doesn’t matter.

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