A recent study has revealed that motorists aged between 41 – 60 are the most likely candidates for breaking the speed limit while going about their daily business. A survey by SmartDriverClub of over 6,000 British motorists concluded that drivers within the 41 – 60 age group drive faster than the limit for 6.6% of the total time they spend behind the wheel.

Of course, some factors have a bearing on that figure, but government statistics relating to the National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC) tend to back that up.

The numbers

Understanding the numbers starts to clear things up a little – stating that middle-aged drivers speed the most is factually accurate, but we should also say that the difference in age groups – 17-25, 26-40, 41-60 & 65+ is just 0.5%, almost negligible differences.

Driving for an hour a day would mean that the 41-60 age group spend around three minutes fifty seconds above the speed limit, while the slowest group (26-40) would spend approximately three minutes twenty-seven seconds speeding; this isn’t night and day differentials.

However, would this be enough information for insurance companies to start re-evaluating risk policies? Statistically, we know that young male drivers are generally more likely to be involved in an accident, a lazy assumption would be that they’re also the most likely to spend their time above the speed limit, rather than below it. Figures released from the Ipsos MORI/University of Leeds study paint a different picture.

The study used data from over 2.2 million drivers, collated over a five-year period, and analysed to form answers, the first being that the average age of ‘offenders’ was between 42-50 years old, backing up the study that SmartDriverClub did. However, it did also state that participants in the NSAC had the lowest collision rates showing the benefit of the NSAC.

Exceptions to the rule

Had the difference been higher, we could start looking at the ‘why?’. Is it that the 41-60 group feels more comfortable or confident behind the wheel? Do they have the balance of experience, skill and knowledge that puts them at the peak of their motoring?

Of course, you’re going to have exceptions.

A 26-year-old took it upon himself to drive from John O’Groats to Land’s End in the fastest time possible, completing the 841 miles in just 9 hours 36 minutes, averaging 90 mph. Is it a surprise that he was driving an Audi?

Upmarket Audis top the list for speeding – with Audi drivers spending 8.7% of the time above the limit. BMW drivers are next, spending 8.3% of their time speeding, followed by Jaguar at 8%, Land Rover at 7.8% and Mercedes at 7.7%.

62% of drivers admit to speeding in the last year but to deliberately set out to break a record that doesn’t exist and endangering life along the way. Perhaps most importantly doing this is giving the police a reason to crack down further on speeding motorists.

Speeding and you

Quite frankly, it would be somewhat foolhardy to state that speeding is the root of all evil, but with a caveat; inappropriate speeding. There are numerous benefits from driving within the speed limit – better fuel consumption (although the speed awareness course tells you that you should stay in a low gear for city driving), prolonged component life, reduced risk of prosecution, smoother driving style and a reduction in stress levels.

Contrary to popular belief, keeping within a speed limit is quite a good measure of your driving ability as it demonstrates spatial awareness, the ability to understand your speed without having an eye on the speedo constantly and allows for increased planning time. All these skills give you the opportunity to understand the road and any hazards before you.

Tips to avoid speeding:

  • Check your speedometer regularly. While sounding simple, it’s all too easy to find yourself travelling at 6-7 mph above the speed limit (which was 54% of those attending a speed awareness course).
  • Roads that have a system of street lighting in place with lamps placed no more than 200 yards apart are considered a 30mph speed limit unless marker boards indicate otherwise.
  • Understand the Highway Code; dual carriageways, single carriageways, central reservations, lampposts can all affect the speed limit.
  • Use cruise-control where possible.
  • Recognise what makes you speed; being tailgated, overtaking or just traffic flow and try to keep yourself calm in those situations.
  • Start your journey a little earlier so as not to feel pressured.

Would you agree with the studies that say middle-aged people are the most likely culprits? When was the last time you were caught speeding? What do you think of the John O’Groats to Land’s End driver? Let us know in the comments below.

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