Thursday 19th December 2013
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Mind your speed limit

Breaking the speed limit is quite common these days, especially with confusing speed zones set up to undermine the standard road speed limits, however there are no two ways about it, speed is the leading cause of fatal accidents on our roads. Although, more than 80% of motorists claim to exceed the speed limit everyday. It may not matter what the speed limit is on any given road as people are still breaking the law.

More often than not, the offence is unintentional as sometimes when we we drive, we can forget our bearings.

Top 14 reasons why people speed

- Unfamiliar vehicle
- Lapsed concentration
- Driving when angry
- Following others
- Listening to fast music
- Thrill seeking
- Red mist (road rage)
- Running late for a destination
- Tailgating
- Peer/passenger pressure
- Distractions such as mobile phone/sat nav
- Noble cause (emergency services too late, so you drive yourself in an emergency)
- Really tired
- Not feeling too well

The top excuse for breaking the speed limit in the UK is lateness. Motorists rarely give themselves ample time to drive to their destination. Other factors can include believing they will never get caught, naturally impatient, eating whilst driving, drunk or hung over, ignorant of the speed limit or have no regard for other drivers, passengers or pedestrians.

The quality standard of today's cars can be made so comfortable and powerful, that it is very easy to gain speed without realising it. Speed should be an everyday conscious choice; it ought to be our number-one driving factor for safer roads. However, sadly it's not and there are many motorists out there that deliberately drive irresponsibly. In fact, a good way to remember how to drive being aware of hazard perception and what's around you is knowing what the word C-O-A-S-T stands for:


These are all important attributes to remember when driving to combat the risk of speeding and driving more safely.

Did you know? The major manufacturers can set speedometers at 2 mph under your actual speed, so that if you are caught speeding you can't blame them. If you are caught for speeding at 42mph you may find you were actually doing around 44mph.

Choices of exceeding the speed limit

It is a fact, if everyone was limited to 10mph or less there would be hardly any accidents. Such a restricted speed limit, however, is ludicrous and would never be implemented. That said, check out what the EU has been trying to bring in on speed limiters here. Around thirty per cent of accidents are a result of unnecessary speeding. It is also more difficult to control a car when speeding should a problem arise, reaction times are less especially if the driver has been drinking alcohol. It is really worth noting the braking distances that are determined by your speed. Please see our table of figures below:

Table of Stopping Distances

Initial Speed (Mph)

Stopping Distance (in feet)

Stopping Distance (in car lengths)

Many drivers consider it okay or the norm to speed; they believe it is within their rights, but if the consequences were really understood then a change of mind would probably take place. For people who have been involved in a speeding accident the psychological disturbances can last a very long time.

Watch this hard hitting TV advert by THINK which conveys this message.

There are others that drive intentionally reckless just to have fun. This demographic of driver who break the speed limit the most are males between 17 to 24 years old. Older drivers are renowned for driving slower, and it is legendary for female drivers to be more cautious than men. This is why less women attend speed awareness courses than men.

However, none of the above factors are viable and being ignorant of the speed limit is no excuse. To overcome speed limit ignorance's assume the law requires you to drive at 30mph in urban areas unless otherwise indicated. Imagine every lamppost has a 30mph sign displayed on it and if your passing a school, it is really important you intentionally slow down to 20mph during drop off and pick up times.

A helpful remedy to prevent yourself from speeding is to drive in third gear around 30mph zones and in second gear for 20mph zones. Always give yourself plenty of time, especially during winter months, and never be influenced by racer driver's tailgating you to drive faster.

Statistics prove that over fifty per cent of drivers break the speed limit daily. To conclude, if a pedestrian is struck by a car at 20mph, they have 95 per cent survival, at 30mph there is 80 per cent survival, at 40mph there is 10 per cent survival. Drivers are more likely to kill someone driving over 40mph.

An interesting experiment

In Holland, a test was run to remove all road markings including traffic lights and pedestrian crossings as well as white lines on the roads. It is proven that the roads then become a safer place. So, why? Well these markings where put in place originally to teach people where and when to cross etc. The problem is from a psychological perspective as people are now too used to our road markings. People end up relying too much on the marking and signs rather than being aware of what's really happening around them. For example: When the green pedestrian light switches on the person immediately just walks on out without checking for any speeding traffic that maybe jumping a light. If all road signs and markings were removed then more of an awareness of the surroundings would take place.

However, from a speeding perspective this test isn't the case here in the UK and therefore it is paramount that safe speeds are kept to in order to minimise the risk should a collision should occur then a higher survival rate would be obtained.

The correct speed limits

Type of Road Speed limit

Urban road 30mph
Rural Single Carriageway 60mph
Dual Carriageway 70mph (except transit van 60mph)
Motorway 70mph

Of course, the real annoyance here is when speeding zones are placed into these areas as you maybe obeying the general road speed, but you are still breaking the law by driving above the speed zone limit. Recently, I received a letter for driving 63mph in a 70mph dual carriage way which I have driven through for the last few years with no problems. The police then decided to put a 50mph zone in to which I was then flashed at. Six weeks later the zone was removed and I was now allowed to drive back at my 63mph safe limit. We are told that speed zones are put in place when road works are in operation, but is this true? or just another speed trap?

We are being told that in order for a camera to be place into a location then there has to have been at least 4 people either killed or injured in any 3 year period. Is this really true? or is it just another revenue earner for the government?