RAC Cars News


Half Of British Drivers Break Speed Limits

By raccars Published

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New research has revealed that half of British car drivers fail to adhere to speed limits on the motorway and in town centres. With 47% of car drivers exceeding the 70mph motorway speed limit without prosecution, motoring groups have suggested that an 80mph unofficial speed limit is now in effect in the UK.

Furthermore, 48% of van and 46% of motorbike drivers join car drivers in admitting to breaking the 70mph motorway speed limit, according to data released by the Department for Transport relating to 2013. Offenders claim that it is common knowledge that the police rarely stop and charge drivers travelling between 70-80mph so prosecution is unlikely and motorists treat 80mph as a default speed limit. A similar situation has been recorded in 30mph zones in built up areas, with 46% of cars, 47% of motorbikes, 50% of vans and 30% of buses admitting to regularly breaking the speed limit.

While it is generally accepted that travelling up to 80mph on a motorway in the appropriate conditions is not catastrophically dangerous, motoring groups are concerned that this attitude translates to making speeding in built up areas socially acceptable. The same flexibility does not apply to town centre roads, where travelling at 40mph when the speed limit is 30mph can be very dangerous. Motoring groups have recommended the introduction of variable speed limits according to different times of day and levels of traffic.

The government does not plan to take any action to rectify the situation but is planning to raise the single carriageway speed limit for HGVs to 50mph from the existing 40mph, after research showed almost three quarter of lorry drivers exceed the existing speed limit. Baroness Kramer, transport minister, justified the move by claiming that such a large scale failure to comply with current speed limits on the part of lorry drivers suggests that they are set inappropriately low. No other speed limit changes are currently under consideration. Plans by the previous Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, to officially raise the speed limit on UK motorways from 70mph to 80mph have been dismissed by his successor, Patrick McLoughlin.

While Mary Creagh, shadow transport secretary, has criticised the current government's policies on road management, the Department for Transport believes it has confirmed its commitment to road safety by increasing several of the penalties applicable to motoring offences, such as careless driving.

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