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UK Drivers are Addicted to Breaking the Speed Limit

By Phil Gardner | January 21, 2019


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Shocking statistics show the extent of rule-breaking on British roads

UK Drivers are Addicted to Breaking the Speed Limit

It happens. You’re plodding along the motorway, minding your own business and going with the flow of the traffic, when suddenly you look down to see you’ve crept up towards 80 mph. What’s more concerning is that everyone else around you seems to have done the same. Speeding is a widespread issue and statistics from the Department for Transport show that this addiction may be more common than most of us would have thought.

The DfT has completed a study observing car journeys at 74 separate sites across the UK. Their study recorded the journeys of 446.6 million motorists and the results are shocking, to say the least.

The most concerning findings were that roughly 86.6% of journeys through 20 mph zones are at speeds exceeding 20mph. Bear in mind that 20mph zones are typically found around primary and secondary schools, hospitals, old people's homes, busy shopping districts and in built-up residential areas.

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On the motorways, the results of the survey were less surprising but still very poor. Of the journeys monitored in 70 mph zones, 48 per cent of motorists were recorded exceeding the speed limit. The numbers themselves look pretty damning but in reality, when you’re on the motorway it does seem that about half the other motorists are exceeding the speed limit. Interestingly, the drop-off is quite substantial as the speeds increase, as only 11% of motorists exceed the 80mph limit. Does this suggest that the speed limit is set too low, with 80mph being a more reasonable limit? Bear in mind that we have the second safest roads in Europe, second only to Sweden, yet almost half the people using the motorway network are speeding.

Interestingly, only 1% of motorists monitored in the survey were noted to be speeding above 90mph.

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The survey concluded that people are most likely to exceed the speed limit on normal roads with 30 mph limits in place. In fact, in the study conducted by the Department for Transport, they found that 52% of motorists would typically break the limit in a 30 mph zone.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Department of Transport uncovered some particularly dangerous statistics about slow drivers. Of the 446.6 million motorists who were monitored, there were a significant 13.7 million cases of drivers going below 50 mph on the motorway, where the limit is 70mph and almost half the motorists are travelling at 80mph. It goes without saying that this is particularly hazardous and can be a massive cause for congestion. The DfT was keen to point out that the 13.7 million slow drivers were recorded at a time where the traffic was free and flowing.

Have these statistics shocked you, or are they as you would have expected? Similarly, do you think it is time to reassess the speed limits on our motorway network or would that just make things worse? Let us know in the comments section.

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