According to the latest figures from police constabularies, drivers committed more than two million speeding offences in the UK in 2016. This is a new record for a twelve-month period. In total, 2,293,228 speeding offences were recorded during the year.

Are we all speeding more? Or is there simply an increasing number of ways that we can be caught?

Speeding around the UK

The information revealed some interesting trends. For example, Avon and Somerset police recorded the highest number of offences during 2016, followed by Thames Valley and Greater Manchester. Part of the reason for this increase is that Avon and Somerset is one of the forces that are enforcing the 70mph speed limit on motorways, along stretches of new smart motorway. This relatively new step is catching out plenty of motorists and resulting in a boom in speeding fines.

Speeding in the UK is a serious problem. According to the RAC, 222 people died in accidents where speed was a contributing factor in 2015 – that’s around 15% of the total deaths on the road. Worryingly, the figures indicate that, despite awareness of the dangers of speeding, more drivers are doing it than ever. Or could it be that the increase is actually due to new and increased ways to be caught?

Top earning speed cameras

Speed cameras are big earners for local governments. The top ten highest-earning cameras across the UK brought in over £3 million in fines in 2016. The year before, one camera alone, on the A1 northbound near Great Ponton, Lincolnshire, caught 6,000 motorists, earning a staggering £1,661 a day.

In second place was the camera near Scunthorpe on the M180, which caught over 5,800 motorists in the same year. Three of the top ten highest-earning cameras are located around the M25, including one on a 50mph zone where motorists travel an average of 62mph.

Avoiding the fines

A surprising figure from the 2015 speeding fines stats was the number of people who avoided fines. While 800,000 speeding fines were issued during the year, a total of 1.3 million individuals managed to avoid a fine. Figures haven’t been released for 2016 to compare yet, but should make for interesting reading once available.

There are several ways to avoid paying a fine if you’re caught speeding. One of the top methods is to take a speed awareness course. Around a third of those caught speeding choose to attend a course rather than pay a fine. However, there are also some more creative ways to avoid paying speeding fines. Recorded reasons include speeding drivers lying to say they were speeding due to an emergency, claiming they no longer owned the car and lying about who was driving the car at the time.

Changes to speed fines

April 2017 saw the introduction of new tiers and costs of speeding fines in the UK. The changes were aimed at slowing people down, so time will tell if they achieve their intended purpose. The new fines can be up to 50% higher than the previous ones. Fines used to be up to 100% of a driver’s weekly earnings. That figure has now increased to 150% for excessive speeding offences. The maximum fine that can be issued for speeding is £1,000 – or £2,500 if the offence was on a motorway. Offenders can also receive six points on their licence and be banned from driving for a brief period (up to 56 days). The minimum fine and number of points issued for speeding remain at £100 and three points respectively.

Only time will tell if the new, harsher penalties bring speeding numbers in the UK down over the course of 2017.

Will harsher fines and higher numbers of speed cameras finally start to curb our tendency to speed? Or is speeding simply an inevitable result of the congestion that delays us on other parts of the road network? Leave a comment below to let us know your views.

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