Penalise all drivers caught speeding – reader reaction

10.56 | 31 January 2018 | | 1 comment

Road safety news readers react to a call by the country’s leading traffic policing officer for a crackdown on motorists who exceed the speed limit by just a few mph.

Jeff, Carlisle

As a former officer and thinking practically about this suggestion, unless the rules of evidence have changed, to gather evidence of speeding an officer had to form an opinion that a vehicle was speeding and have that backed up by either a colleague or a device such as a speed gun.

I can’t ever imagine a court convicting a driver when the officer said he/she believed the driver was exceeding the 30mph speed limit at 31 or 32mph in a 30mph zone.

Dave H (@BCCletts)
If RTC were investigated with the objective and independent process used for rail, air and marine incidents, then speed would be appearing as a key causal factor in an overwhelming number of reports. I’m staggered by the RoadSafetyGB tweet discounting this, but not surprised.

The higher the speed the greater distance you travel before brakes take effect, than higher the forces that can roll the car over if the driver misjudges and clips a kerb or other road feature. It is the amplifier of errors which would otherwise be minor collisions.

Perhaps the ‘tolerance’ might be in the form currently being used for close passing campaigns, with existing legislation creating a motorists’ ASBO (Section 59 Police Reform Act 2002) where ‘antisocial driving which often involves a Section 3 (RTA 1988) offence. This basically puts the driver on notice to behave for the next 12 months, with stronger action likely for the next time. This offers a gentle no points, no fine way to deal with a minor excess of speed with the big stick primed for those who won’t take the hint.

It seems to me that many are arguing that drivers should be allowed to exceed the speed limit, when what they should be arguing is that the limit should be higher in certain cases. The latter, I can see as being a reasonable debate to have. I might not agree with everyone – I’m quite happy for my residential road to have a 20mph limit for example – but that’s a reasonable issue to discuss.

But arguing that people should be allowed to drive faster than the legal limit?! It’s an upper limit, not an advisory speed. Do people not understand what limit means? Do they not have dictionaries?

And as for this concern that people will end up driving around with their eyes glued to their speedometers, not looking where they’re going, please do me a favour…I thought better of Edmund King. If drivers are genuinely that challenged then surely it must be easy to provide a GPS based gadget (phone app, whatever) which beeps when you exceed the speed limit. The only reason such a thing isn’t standard in cars already is that so many drivers feel entitled to break the law, and don’t want to be beeped at while they do so. That needs to change.

Martin Andrew, Ipswich
I see that this story is taken from an article in the Daily Mail.
This “newspaper” has a track record of causing argument and division in society, on many subjects, from Brexit to the benefits system.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would take anything you read in the article with a very large pinch of salt. I’d like to know what the Chief Constable really said, not what the Daily Mail reported him saying.

Brenda Puech, London
I was delighted to hear the Chief Constable’s view that speeding motorists should be treated much more strictly than they currently are, with the 10% buffer zone scrapped, and offenders given fines and points rather than speed awareness courses.

As a pedestrian who sees speeding on the increase with drivers racing down residential and shopping streets with impunity, terrifying other road users, it seems as if there are no consequences to be faced for speeding.

The opposite is true for pedestrians. The extremely sad incidents of five pedestrians (including three teenagers) in recent months killed by speeding cars while waiting at bus stops is symptomatic of the terror that we have to face from speeding motorists.

Around 45 pedestrians each year get killed by drivers on pavements let alone the 1390 pedestrians killed or seriously injured trying to cross the road (in the year to June 2017) of whom a quarter were children.

I could not be more relieved that someone at the highest level is taking this seriously and seeking to protect pedestrians from the very real terror of speeding motorists.

Bugsy, Worcester
Here we go again. Licenced and insured drivers of road worthy cars who drift a little over the limit are not the ones causing the terrible accidents we read about. These involve often illegally driven cars travelling at way over the limit, driven by people who simply don’t care. 30MPH is an arbitrary, convenient round number.

The equivalent on the continent is 31MPH (50KPH) and so Joshua Harris’ (Brake) assertion that limits are absolute is just uninformed nonsense. It should also be noted that the convention that a given limit ends opposite the point on the carriageway where the limit starts in the other direction, is once again an arbitrary convenience not based upon safety issues. Disappointing that a senior officer appears to display such little appreciation of real road safety issues.

Adrian, Tunbridge Wells
I’m bemused by the fuss.

1) On “watching speedometers”, the implication is that you somehow “know your speed” when doing 34 mph, but not 30 mph. If in doubt, drive a little slower.
2) Speedometers are accurate. If yours isn’t, then drive a little slower.
3) We use the term “Speed LIMITS” for a reason; it’s a limit, not a target. If in doubt, the law allows you to drive a little slower.

The main point is that ALL casualties are the result of speed – no one has ever caused a crash at 0 mph, as far as I am aware – and the faster that you drive, the greater the harm that will be done if you crash. In most urban settings, a speed limit 30mph is already too fast for safety and convenience of the majority of road users (think pedestrians, think mobility scooters, think cyclists, think old people, think children) and there is no excuse for exceeding it.

On the contrary, driving slower than 30mph should be the norm in most towns, cities and villages, so let’s have 20mph on all residential streets and town/village centres. If drivers DO exceed this lower limit by 1 or 2 mph, then the result will be less damaging than exceeding a 30mph limit.

Dave Graham, Leeds
“Edmund King, president of the AA, accused CC Bangham of ‘wanting to go back to the days of Dixon of Dock Green’”.

What a lot of people tend to forget is that Dixon of Dock Green was a TV character and not a reflection of policing.

Mark – Warminster, Wiltshire
Where have all the bobbies gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the bobbies gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the bobbies gone?
Short sighted politicians have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
Know the cost of everything and the value of nothing
When will they ever learn?

I don’t agree with James but I understand his comments about our politically correct society. However, I would say to James, if you can wave your magic wand and get the resources to do what you are suggesting effectively – good luck. If you manage it, I would venture to suggest that many of your colleagues who are doing a brilliant job in the most challenging of times, may like to see those extra resources channelled into other areas of roads policing that might just result in more effective and useful results.

Elaine Hardy, Sainte Foy La Grande
I absolutely agree with the following comment:

“The current 10%+2mph is there for a reason. Speedometers are not accurate, people make mistakes (it’s in our nature) and above all, we police in the UK with the consent of the public. Why on earth do we want to damage the trust and support of the majority by applying punitive penalties and removing discretion? I feel for my former colleagues who will now get a ‘verbal battering’ as the public face of one Chief Constable’s inappropriate and ill conceived comments.”
Graham Johnstone, Hull

Speed alone is not the killer. Speed may be a contributor to a collision. Ultimately there are numerous factors that contribute. I just wonder why the vehicle manufacturers are not called into question with regards their advertising of sex, speed, macho behaviour etc.

Road Traffic Investigators will tell you that human factors are more relevant, also, in the case for example of Northern Ireland, there is a major issue with “legacy” roads – i.e. road that do not have the correct infrastructure for safety. I suspect this also applies to the rest of the U.K. The point being that speed per se is not the major issue in road collisions.

I find it frustrating to say the least that armchair experts muddy the waters with inaccuracies and personal opinion.

Charles, England
Zero-tolerance is impossible because speed measuring traps aren’t physically capable of reliably measuring vehicles’ speeds to an infinite number of decimal places. Charges of travelling at 30.000001 mph in a 30 mph limit would get laughed out of court every time.

Trevor Baird
Hmmm! This brings to mind another senior police officer stirring up the “locals”. Richard Brunstrom was North Wales chief constable from 2001-2009 and was head of roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, in which role he was accused of “waging war on motorists”. He was apparently last heard of in New Zealand in 2014 being fined £100 for having an expired disc after a car he bought during a holiday. Here we are a decade later with another senior police officer flexing muscles and posturing in the name of road safety but will it make a difference?

Dave Finney, Slough
Surely it’s time to decide: “Do we want policies based on evidence or opinion”?

If evidence, let’s do it right. Run all interventions within scientific trials where possible. That way we’ll see what effects each have, we will start to have a much deeper understanding of road safety and lives will be saved. The trials can include many criteria such as changes in collision rates, noise levels, pollution etc.

But if we are to continue with opinion based policy, such as that proposed by Mr Bangham, then let’s be honest and admit that we reject a true evidence based approach. I don’t object to the policies, I simply object to the pretense that they are evidence based.

David Weston, Corby
On the comment of speedos, modern speedos *are* accurate. They are designed to show any human who is looking at the speedometer 2-3mph below at any speed however.

Secondly, I guess I’m kind of in support of zero tolerance measures. I look forward to there being no police officers remaining on the roads due to their licences being suspended for six months at a time(!)

Pat, Wales
The point is largely academic when the police are very frequency not around on urban roads and rural lanes to enforce the limit what ever it is and with or without discretion.

Twitter users have also been expressing their views on chief constable Bangham’s call to penalise those caught driving/riding marginally over the speed limit .


Rod King, Warrington
There is a lot of talk about speedos being inaccurate. But, the margin of error is only down. It is illegal for your speedo to show less than your actual speed. This is built into the UK vehicle requirements “A speedo must never show less than the actual speed, and must never show more than 110% of actual speed + 6.25mph. ”

Hence if your speedo shows 30 mph then you are not exceeding the speed limit unless your car is not meeting UK specifications.

The practical issues with keeping speed below 35mph is exactly the same as keeping it below 30mph. It is just that everything is happening 16% quicker and your kinetic energy is 36% greater.

Such a change would bring the law into greater respect. Police already have the discretion not to take action but this should be based on specific circumstances rather than a blanket dilution of the speed limits set.

We have a strong tradition that elected representatives of the people set laws, a professional police force enforces them and an independent judiciary passes sentence. Blurring the responsibilities between them bring all three institutions into disrepute.

Nick, Portishead
“Edmund King, president of the AA, accused CC Bangham of ‘wanting to go back to the days of Dixon of Dock Green’”.

And what is wrong with that Mr King? Perhaps a bit more respect for the police (and therefore the law) wouldn’t go amiss.

Too many people flaunt the law; chief constable Bangham is making a valid point that by allowing a 10% +2 tolerance, effectively we allow people to break the law.

Too many people drive around in high powered, comfortable cars driving at the speed they feel comfortable at. They are desensitised to the dangers of speeding and given a false sense of safety that modern vehicles provide. For the driver in an accident the impact is minimal; for a pedestrian hit by that vehicle its devastating.

Education does not work. If it did then people wouldn’t speed. Education after they are caught doesn’t prevent them doing it again, but the surveys they fill out are just a sheepish reaction to being caught.

Fair play to chief constable Bangham for saying what needs to be said in a politically correct obsessed society that prevents many from really saying what they believe.

Bob Craven, Lancs
I  am a retired police officer and I am in total agreement with the need to scrap the 10% plus 2 mph which works out at 30 mph to be an allowable increase to 35 mph. In a town situation that differential can make an awful lot of difference.

5 mph difference and that adds to the other problem of tailgating which in itself is something that the police need to deal with also. I can’t make you out as you start by saying that you attended far too many fatalities that undoubtedly had speed as a primary causation and yet you want to condone and permit the continuing actions of that issue. Of some who would drive over the speed limit just because their speedometers are wrong…

When you talk of the innaccuraces of the speedometer you fail to say that none actually register under the speed limit at all. Many speedometers actually register a faster speed than one is actually doing. I know that mine registers 30 mph when I am doing only 28 mph but that is a good thing.

In America they tested some 60 vehicles for speedometer accuracy and found that all measured more than actual speed and only the BMW registered a correct speed. So I am glad now that we can start again as it was in your day Graham where the speedometer was king and we drove by it without any more recent interventions by other authorities.

Hugh Jones, Cheshire
The speed limit isn’t a target speed, so make a point of staying under it with a margin to spare – it’s not difficult.

Kris Wilkes, Birmingham
Speedometers read a couple of mph over the actual speed in order to assist in staying under the limit. There is no excuse for not staying under the limit.

Further, action on speeding is not just a matter of preventing death and injury. Speed has an impact on noise levels for those people living on roads. Road noise at 40mph is twice that at 30mph. The affect of road noise on residents quality of life and health is well established in scientific literature.

When you are speeding at night on an empty street and think you’re hurting no one, think about the people that live there and are affected by your sociopathic actions.

Graham Johnstone, Hull
As a retired RP Inspector, SIO, SCI and someone who attended far too many fatalities that undoubtedly had speed as a primary causation factor, words fail me.

When senior Police Officers stoop to this level of crass sensationalism, it totally undermines the excellent and ongoing work of my former colleagues, who with very limited and finite resources perform a truly outstanding job.

I trust those former colleagues to deal with situations they come across fairly, applying current legislation and guidance appropriately according to the individual circumstances of the offence. Education works, there are a number of studies which show its effectiveness.

The current 10%+2mph is there for a reason. Speedometers are not accurate, people make mistakes (it’s in our nature) and above all, we police in the UK with the consent of the public. Why on earth do we want to damage the trust and support of the majority by applying punitive penalties and removing discretion?

I feel for my former colleagues who will now get a ‘verbal battering’ as the public face of one Chief Constable’s inappropriate and ill conceived comments.

Keith, Bristol
He has clearly thought this through. I fully agree with the issues caused by speeding. However, with a crass comment like that from a senior officer he is inviting a backlash from the public. If the Police were to go down that route then each driver who is caught for speeding should ask for their day in court. That will soon crash the legal system and bring the courts to a grinding halt and make them rethink such a comment.



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    I agree that speeding motorists should be punished , there is no respect for speed limits and generally these
    People just get points put on their license ” not good enough ”
    I have sent letters e mails and have even telephoned but have never had a response from police or council .
    Personally i have no respect for local police force or Uttlesford District Council .
    Unless the law is upheld then we have no chance in our community .

    Robertwoollcott, Bishop stortford
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