February 22, 2011 / 4:49 PM / 9 years ago

Town changes name from "Speed" to "Speedkills"

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Names can matter, thinks one Australian town named Speed — which renamed itself “Speedkills” in an effort to promote road safety.

Speed, an outback town in rural Victoria with a population of just 45, will change its name for the month of March to reduce rural road accidents and increase awareness of the dangers associated with speeding.

“Most people recognize that drink driving is a socially unacceptable activity, they are less convinced about the merits of speed,” Phil Reed, head of community relations at the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), told Reuters.

“Our underpinning business objective here is to make the issue of speeding (as) socially unacceptable as drink driving.”

In an effort to broaden its message, the tiny town took its message to television and social networking sites such as Facebook, saying that the name change would go through if it got 10,000 supporters — a number hit within 24 hours.

It currently has nearly 34,000 supporters.

“We want people to slow down on country roads and drive safely,” TAC spokeswoman Sarah Henderson said.

The number of road deaths in the year from Feb 2010 to Jan 2011 was 1,329, a fall of 11.5 percent from the previous year, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

Reporting by Raji Menon; editing by Elaine Lies

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