Speed limits in residential areas are broken most often – study finds

Close-up showing the needle on a car's speedometer moving towards 100 miles per hour.

Speed limits are designed to make roads safer for both drivers and pedestrians, but many drivers take risks and go faster than the limit, putting themselves in danger. With the weather now turning wet and windy, speeding is even more dangerous as it’s much easier to lose control of a vehicle.

Experts at Claims.co.uk have analysed data from the Department of Transport showing the percentage of vehicles caught speeding in 2021 and 2022. They compiled this information by road and vehicle type to show what road types in the UK have the highest percentages of speeding vehicles.

Many motorists have heard of a rule stating that speeding tickets won’t be applied if the driver is doing 10% + 2mph. This is a misconception as it is not a rule, only a guideline due to discrepancies between the speedometer and actual speed of a vehicle. Some speed cameras are calibrated in such a way that, for example, someone going 32mph in a 30mph zone won’t get a ticket, however the law states that it is illegal to exceed the posted speed limit at all.

The data shows that across all vehicle types, the highest percentage of speeding vehicles occurs on 20mph roads. 49% of cars were exceeding the limit by 5mph or more where only 19% were exceeding it by 10mph or more. Recently, Wales has announced that the default speed limit is now 20mph and this has replaced many of the former 30mph zones.

In 30mph zones, cars have been shown to still exceed the speed limit, with 50% being caught speeding in 2022. 17% exceeded the speed limit by between 5mph and 9mph.

These speed zones are located within towns and cities and frequently have pedestrian areas alongside them. In a GOV.UK report compiling factors leading to injury of pedestrians, the majority of all injuries occurred on urban roads, and ‘exceeding speed limit’ was counted as a contributing factor 1,057 times.

Road Type Vehicle Type % speeding 2021 % speeding 2022 
Motorways Cars 48 45 
 LGV 51 48 
 Motorcycle 58 55 
 Rigid HGV 11 
 Articulated HGV 
National speed limit single carriageways Cars 11 11 
 Motorcycle 28 28 
 Rigid HGV 42 41 
 Articulated HGV 36 35 
30 mph roads Cars 51 50 
 LGV 52 51 
 Motorcycle 59 56 
 Rigid HGV 44 42 
 Articulated HGV 43 39 
20 mph roads Cars 87 85 
 LGV 86 84 
 Motorcycle 93 92 
 Rigid HGV 75 80 
 Articulated HGV 85 81 

The lowest instance of speeding is found on roads subject to the national speed limit. These are single carriageway roads mainly found in rural areas where vehicles travel 60mph or less. If a car is towing a trailer, the limit reduces to 50mph. Many of these roads include sharp turns and bends which are dangerous to tackle at the stated 60mph limit, especially in wet or otherwise adverse weather.

Single carriageways are also used by farm traffic and horses, which cause vehicles to move slower and take more care. The average free flow speed on these roads is between 47-51mph with 27% of cars travelling at a speed between 50-54mph.

On motorways, the study found that 21% of cars exceeded the limit by 5-9mph. Despite this, the average free flow speed was found to be 69mph.

A spokesperson for Claims.co.uk commented:

“Speeding is a contributing factor in 33% of road accidents and kills over 1,000 people per year. Fatalities are more common at higher speeds which is why governments around the globe are looking at ways to slow vehicles down.

“Instances of speeding have gone down in most cases between 2021 and 2022, with a drop of 1-4% across vehicle and road types. Both rigid and articulated HGVs are fitted with speed limiters that come into effect when the vehicle reaches a set limit, usually enforced by the company. This is why they have lower rates of speeding on motorways and single carriageways.

“The data shows us that speeding is more common in 20mph zones, but overall numbers are high across all road types and zones. 20mph zones have been suggested and put into place due to safety; however, the data shows that driver’s behaviour is worse than in 30mph zones, with speeding occurring 70% more in cars and 64% more in motorcycles.

“Speeding can also cause more damage to a vehicle in a collision, which would increase the cost of repair and cause insurance rates to rise. Using dash cams or speed limiters on private cars and motorcycles could help to decrease the number that exceed the speed limit and encourage safer driving.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top