An official review of the speeding laws is underway and if Britain’s Road Policing Chief for the National Police Chiefs’ Council gets his way, motorists will face penalties for going just one mile per hour over the speed limit.

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham hit the headlines early this year after his comments in favour of a zero-tolerance approach to speeding received fierce backlash from other police leaders and motoring organisations who say this approach is unworkable.

The ‘buffer’ zone

As the law stands, motorists face prosecution if they break the speed limit by any amount.

While most drivers know about the current ‘buffer’ of 10% plus 2 mph, any decision to issue a speeding penalty remains at the discretion of the police officer and the individual police force, with police and fixed speed cameras both able to enforce the speed limits and issue speeding penalties.

Motorists who hit the top of the buffer zone can expect to receive either a fixed penalty notice or take the Speed Awareness Course, which, depending on where you live and whether you’ve taken the course before, will cost you £75-£100. Over a certain amount above the speed limit and drivers will receive a court summons.

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, who is also the chairman of charity Road Safety Trust says the public overuse speed awareness courses and those who break the law should instead receive fines and points on their licences.

The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine, plus three penalty points. The maximum speeding fine is £1,000, but this increases to a maximum of £2,500 for exceeding the motorway speed limit. of 70 mph where no further evidence except a police officer’s opinion suffices for a prosecution.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) speeding penalty guidelines

Speed limit: 20 mph
24 mph: a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course
35 mph: summoning

Speed limit: 30 mph
35 mph: a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course
50 mph: court summons

Speed limit: 40 mph
46 mph: a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course
66 mph: court summons

Speed limit: 50 mph
57 mph: a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course
76 mph: court summons

Speed limit: 60 mph
68 mph: a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course
86 mph: court summons

Speed limit: 70 mph
79 mph: a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course
96 mph: court summons

Don’t ‘whinge’ when you’re caught

Anthony Bangham, Chief Constable for West Mercia Police, caused a stir in January when he said the current 10% plus 2 mph speed allowance leads drivers to think it’s fine to speed. He said the message should change to show that the police were proud to enforce the law, and it’s neither unfair nor should come as a surprise to drivers who get caught and booked for breaking the law, driving at 33 mph in a 30 mph zone—these drivers should feel embarrassed.

Mr Bangham stated that speeding motorists shouldn’t come ‘whinging’ to the police when the law has established speed limits for a reason.

“We need to change our messaging and ensure greater consistency of approach when dealing with those who exceed the speed limit.

“The existing speed enforcement guidance could, in fact, be encouraging driving at these more dangerous higher speeds rather than the actual speed limits.”

The Chief Constable said if the current guidance receives the proper understanding and application, it may offer forces with the flexibility that’s necessary, but that over time drivers often misunderstand its rigid application and understanding, with an expectation that “the ‘norm’ is ‘it is OK to speed'”.

We’re all aware that speeding is both illegal, has the potential to be dangerous, and that we should all do our best not to exceed speed limits. Becoming fixated with our speedometers is dangerous, too, but we now have the technology to help. From mobile apps and Sat Nav devices with audible speed limit alerts, together with devices to warn drivers of speed cameras, there’s plenty to keep us all on the right side of the law.

Neil at Drivesmart, a company who provide speed camera detectors to help people to drive safer, commented: “I think if [it] was just 1mph over the limit it would be unenforceable due to speedometer inaccuracy. Also, the appeals process would be backlogged as there would be a massive increase in people contesting their tickets. I personally think people just need to slow down and having a detector in the car actually makes you more aware of what is around you.”

For those who want to be extra careful and want to know when any speed cameras are around, Drivesmart have an exclusive offer for PetrolPrices members of 30% off their Alpha Speed Camera Detector which tells you when any speed camera is nearby and warns you in enough time to allow you to check that you’re driving at a safe limit. If you’re interested, have a look here:

Should drivers fear zero-tolerance?

There is always a split public reaction to speeding. One camp will say there’s no excuse for speeding and therefore no reason for good drivers to fear a speeding fine or penalty points. Others will ask for leniency and common sense, not a world where motorists trying to keep within the speed limit while watching the road into criminals.

While it’s true that the current police speed enforcement guidelines—set in 2011—are under review, reassurance comes from a spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, who said no action will take place until ALL police chiefs review the findings. The representative also expressed that it wouldn’t be realistic to prosecute people for driving one mile per hour above the speed limit, which will bring comfort to many motorists.

What’s your opinion on the potential for a ‘zero-tolerance’ law? Would you welcome this approach to policing or is this approach unfair? Tell us in the comments.

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