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Nearly 90% of Britain's drivers admit to speeding in 20mph zones

By John Davidson

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Speed limits of 20mph are primarily in residential areas.
Speed limits of 20mph are primarily in residential areas.

New figures show that nearly 90 per cent of drivers across Britain routinely break the speed limit in 20mph residential areas.

And more than half admit to breaking the limit in 30mph areas, according to statistics from the Department of Transport.

The new statistics, released last week and compiled throughout 2021, suggest that the return to pre-pandemic levels of traffic looks to have had no long-term impact on driver behaviour.

The data also reveals that 48 per cent of motorists broke the speed limit on motorways, although this fell to 11 per cent of cars for single carriageways last year.

Drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 10mph hovered around five to six per cent last year, while 10 per cent went over the speed limit by at least 10mph on motorways.

Only one per cent of car drivers on single carriageways broke the speed limit by more than 10mph.

Respondents who admitted to exceeding the speed limit gave the top excuse as: "I drive according to the speed of other road users." On 20mph roads, users most often cited the speed limit as being "inappropriate".

Other popular excuses given for breaking the speed limit were: "It’s sometimes safer to go faster", "pressure from other drivers" and "I don’t look at the speedometer enough".

The government figures are based on driver behaviour on roads with free-flowing traffic where there are no impediments such as bends or steep climbs.

Responding to the new data, Greg Wilson, founder of car insurance comparison platform Quotezone.co.uk, says: “It’s staggering to realise that half of all motorists are still breaking the speed limit in residential 30mph zones and there is no encouraging longer-term downward trend.

"Residential areas are one of the areas drivers should be most cautious, given the high volume of pedestrians and children playing, so it’s worrying that this is still an issue.

“While many drivers might think it’s a minor fault breaking the speed limit by a small margin, the law takes a different view. There’s no ‘look the other way’ if motorists go over a speed limit by less than 10 per cent – that’s a myth.”

Motorists can face a fine of £100 and three penalty points on their licence if they break the speed limit – which can increase to six points and a fine of up to £1000 if they’re doing more than 41mph in a 30mph zone.

Mr Wilson says penalty points can add anything from five per cent to car insurance premiums for the first three points on a licence, which can rise to 25 per cent for six points.

He added: “If convicted, it’s important to be honest and fully disclose the offence to your insurance provider, because failure to do so can result in the policy being invalidated, meaning you won’t be covered.

"Some providers do offer car insurance policies with competitive rates for convicted drivers, which can help motorists find an affordable premium, but it probably goes without saying that the best way to keep your car insurance price low is to obey the speed limit.”

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