Half of drivers break speed limit in residential areas

Night drivers were most likely to break the 30mph speed limit in built-up areas, with 75% speeding between the hours of midnight and 6am.

More than half of Britain’s drivers routinely broke the speed limit in built-up areas in 2020, according to new figures from the Department for Transport.

During the height of the first lockdown – April to June 2020 – 63% of motorists travelling on 30mph roads exceeded the speed limit. Drivers breaking the speed limit by 5-10 mph never dropped below 19% last year but spiked to 26% during the first lockdown.

Motorway driving echoed this behaviour although motorists broke the speed limit slightly less but tended to do so by 5 or 10mph in greater percentages. Single carriageway users (60 mph limit for cars) were more likely to comply with speed limits, with 10-17% breaking the limit and just 1-3% exceeding it by 10mph or more. 

Night drivers were most likely to break the 30mph speed limit in built-up areas, with 75% speeding between the hours of midnight and 6am, compared with an average of 37% of motorists during daylight hours.

The figures are based on driver behaviour on roads with free flowing traffic where there are no impediments such as bends or steep climbs. The report is based on nearly 40,000 vehicles observed on roads in residential areas, around 150,000 on motorways and 21,000 on single carriageways.

Responding to the data, Greg Wilson, founder of Quotezone.co.uk, said: “It’s staggering to realise that half of all motorists are breaking the speed limit across motorways, single carriageways and residential 30mph zones, but it’s the speeding offences that occur in those built-up areas that could potentially be the most dangerous, because far more accidents happen on these smaller roads than on motorways and dual carriageways.

“While some motorists may assume that there won’t be pedestrians or cyclists on the road after dark in these 30mph zones, there’s always a heightened risk of an accident when a driver exceeds the speed limit, so it’s worrying that the Department for Transport data suggests 75% of motorists are taking this risk.

“Even if an accident doesn’t occur, if drivers in Great Britain are caught speeding on these roads, they face a Fixed Penalty Notice of £100 and three penalty points on their licence if they exceed the limit by a marginal amount, or six points and a fine of up to £1,000 if they’re doing more than 41mph in a 30mph zone.”

Penalty points can add anything from 5% to 25% to your car insurance premium, depending on the number of points your licence has been endorsed with.

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