Road safety experts are encouraging drivers to continue keeping a close eye on their speedo and stick to legal limits, after a recent UK-wide police operation targeted speeding drivers.
Campaigners say that driving above the legal limit brings extra risk to drivers and anyone else around them. They add that driving within the limits can bring savings in terms of fuel and wear on your vehicle, and it removes the chance of landing yourself with a hefty fine and points on your licence.
Safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist says the decisions we make as drivers are entirely our own and driving at legal speeds bring benefits for our safety, our frame of mind and for the environment.
Speeding in built-up areas
Recent statistics released by the Department for Transport showed that more than 50% of drivers stopped for speeding, were doing so in 30mph built-up areas.
During the more free flowing traffic conditions of Covid lockdown periods in 2020, 56% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 30mph roads (compared to 54% in 2019), 53% were speeding on motorways (up from 50% in 2019) and 12% broke the limit on single carriageway roads (up from 9% in 2019).
While cars (55%), vans (55%) and motorcycles (58%) were the worst offenders on motorways, larger vehicles, HGVs and buses scored the highest on national speed limit single carriageways.
Lower costs and emissions
“The speeds we use are entirely our own choice. No one else controls the speed of the vehicles we drive,” says Neil Worth, GEM chief executive.
“Even modest reductions bring lower fuel costs and reduced emissions. Slowing down gives you more time to anticipate and plan when you’re driving, as well as more time to react to hazards and to stop safely if necessary.
“Reducing the speeds you use will lower the stress on journeys. By leaving a bit earlier, you will be less tempted into the sort of high-risk manoeuvres seen by some drivers as vital for clawing back precious seconds when they’re late on journeys.
“We don’t have any control over the traffic around us; we ARE the traffic. So there really is nothing to be gained from trying to go faster – and trying to make others go faster or forcing them out of the way.”
“It is worrying that one in two drivers on motorways and 30mph roads exceeded the speed limit in 2020 when they were given greater opportunity,” says Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart charity, Director of Policy & Research.
“Getting back on track will require greater investment in roads policing but for now the goal of making speeding as anti-social as drink driving looks far from being achieved.”
A ‘speeding ticket’ will result in three points on your driving licence and a fine of £100. However, fines changed in April 2017, when a three-band system was introduced. Serious speeders (with Band C offences) now face fines of up to 150 per cent of their weekly salary, with six penalty points and/or disqualifications of between seven and 56 days.
Top tips for safer speeds
- Make sure you always know the speed limit for the stretch of road you’re on.
- If there are lamp posts, you should assume the limit is 30mph.
- Even if the limit is 30mph, you’ll reduce risk considerably by choosing 20mph, especially when there are likely to be children playing.
- Check your speedometer frequently.
- Give yourself plenty of time on journeys. Leave early to help reduce stress.
- Think ahead, scan ahead. Look for clues that a speed limit might be about to change.
- Be particularly observant when leaving motorways or other fast roads, even if dropping to 30mph might feel very slow.