Driving home why UK speed limits matter

When you open that speeding fine letter, it can be your heart that starts racing rather than your car! How fast was I going, and how many points am I going to get on my licence? Being offered the chance to go on a speed awareness course, in return for no points and a lower cost, can seem like a ‘get out of jail free’ card. After all, you were only a small amount over the speed limit, so this is just a lot of inconvenient nonsense, right? Let’s just park that thought for a moment and look at some of the road accident statistics in the UK.

Is speeding a big issue?

According to the Department for Transport’s Automatic Traffic Counters(ATCs), in 2021 when traffic conditions were ‘free flowing’, 51% of drivers chose to go above the 30mph limit and 48% exceeded the motorway speed limit. The most common excuse for this was keeping up with the driving behaviours of other vehicles. In the same year, 1.39 million drivers went on a UK speed awareness course. That was a significant increase from the year before, despite the pandemic.

Yes, but does that cause accidents?

Now we get to the really shocking statistics. Speeds above the posted limits contributed to 3,927 road traffic accidents in 2020. That includes speed being a contributive factor in a horrific 1,361 fatal and serious accidents. Deaths, life-changing injuries and immeasurable pain and suffering, all because someone wanted to go faster than the legal speed.

Does one or two miles over matter?

Speed limits in the UK are calculated using the local landscapes and features. For instance, a 20mph limit is used where children and other pedestrians are most likely to be abundant and not always cautious. The limit set is designed to provide the best possible chance of a driver stopping in time, or at least being slow enough to cause minimal human damage.

Brake, the road safety charity, says, ‘Speed is a critical issue for the safety of our roads – no one was ever killed by a stationary vehicle.’

It also points out that ‘an average speed reduction of 1mph reduces crash frequency by 5%’. That could easily be a life saved or someone keeping their limbs or ability to walk. The charity also points out that a car that crashes while doing 30mph has double the energy – and destructive ability – as one that crashes while doing 20mph. There are many more facts that drive home how vital speed limits really are, and why EVERY mile over the limit you go puts you and others at greater risk. Unfortunately there has been a change in the rules which cover road accidents and if someone suffers more minor injuries such as whiplash they are now encouraged to represent themselves as solicitors no longer receive any fees for this type of work. However, if you have experienced a serious injury in a road traffic accident in the UK, we may still be able to help you so please ring us on 0800 0523 693 to get a steer on our no win no fee system, and some free advice.