Speed enforcement guidelines ‘are being reviewed’

12.03 | 21 August 2018 | | | 23 comments

Image: West Mercia Police

The country’s leading roads policing officer has once again expressed his support for punishing drivers caught speeding by even 1mph, with speed enforcement guidelines currently under review.

In February, chief constable Anthony Bangham, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) roads policing lead, faced controversy after suggesting that drivers travelling at just 1mph over the speed limit should be prosecuted.

According to the Mail on Sunday (MoS), Mr Bangham has reiterated that support – saying the existing leeway gives out the wrong signal and could be contributing to increasing injuries on the roads.

In a new report seen by the MoS, Mr Bangham says that the guidance leads drivers to think ‘it is OK to speed’. He warns colleagues: “We need to change our messaging and ensure greater consistency of approach when dealing with those who exceed the speed limit.”

In the paper on roads policing, presented to the NPCC in April, Mr Bangham explained how fatalities increased by 4% in 2016 after years of decline, and admitted the police approach ‘appears to be failing’.

He noted that there is widespread public support for action against drink-drivers, those who use mobile phones at the wheel and those who do not wear seatbelts – but crackdowns on speeders are ‘actively resisted’ despite the fact that speeding was a factor in 15% of fatal crashes in 2015.

Under current policing guidelines, typically motorists are not stopped if they are driving at up to 10% over the limit – and they are often given an extra 2mph allowance on top of that.

This means that a motorist could go up to 34 mph without facing punishment in a built-up area, and as fast as 78 mph on a motorway.

According to the MoS, an official review is now underway into the ‘buffer zone’.

The MoS says road safety charity Brake is ‘fully supportive’ of Mr Bangham’s approach, noting: “The existing speed enforcement guidance, the 10% plus two rule, gives drivers the impression that travelling above the speed limit is acceptable – it is not.”

However, a NPCC spokesman told the Mirror that while current speed enforcement guidelines are being reviewed, there is no proposal for drivers to be prosecuted for driving 1mph over the speed limit.

The spokesman said: “Officers have a range of options available to them when drivers are speeding and respond in a proportionate way based on the circumstances in each case.

“Current speed enforcement guidelines for police set in 2011 are being reviewed looking at available evidence. The findings of the review will be considered by all chief constables before any action is taken.

“There is no proposal for drivers to be prosecuted for driving one mile per hour over the speed limit – that would be neither proportionate or achievable.”



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    I can’t imagine that driving standards are any different where I am compared to where you are Nigel so I really can’t get a sense of what you’re getting at or how you’re experiencing that problem, unless either your speedo is over-reading by 50% (which is unlikely admittedly) or speed limits where you are, let’s say, not in accordance with national guidelines.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

    If more drivers went to court, pleading not guilty and lost then the maximum fine could be imposed and not just merely the FP fine So whats that? is it £2000 or more? and then their is court cots for wasting the courts time.

    After a few of those I don’t think there would be many takers. Well would you?

    Lets remember if the police reading on a more accurate machine +/- 2 showed a driver doing say 36 mph in a 30 area then if the drivers speedometer was in fact 10% plus 2 mph out or fast then that speedometer would be reading 36 plus 10% plus 2 and that would be would be recording about 42 mph

    He deserves to get done.

    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    What, keep to 30mph, Hugh? It’s bad enough doing that with people stamping impatiently on your tail. I fear to think what their reaction would be if it was less than that. Dogy old codger?

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    I can’t think of another way of expressing it Nigel. If you think you’re vulnerable to prosecution by doing that, er..why do it?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

    Over and over again we have to point out that its not that speed necessarily causes you to get into an incident, but moreover that it can prevent you getting out of an incident before it turns into a crash.

    When it comes to vehicle operation and control speed is the factor that reduces available thinking time, that impairs handling and control and that requires greater stopping power. Impact speed is a major factor in pedestrian survival.

    That is why the combined outcome of incidents arising, becoming a crash and consequential injury is proportional to the 4th power of speed. The 4th power of 35 is 85% higher than the 4th power of 30. Hence there is a huge difference in potential outcome for a road network with vehicles running at what may be considered small differences in absolute speed.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

    Agreed Keith , However, you wouldn’t need people to go to court to swamp the system. Just having the back offices try to process all that massive increase in FPNs would cause most ticketing offices to go into melt down.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

    Whats wrong in driving to the speed limit? Nothing. I do it quite a lot of the time when the road circumstances are safe enough.. If they, in my view, become potentially more dangerous then I slow down to a more appropriate speed. On residential roads I have always driven closer to 20 than to 30 mph. and that was decades before the 20 is plenty scheme was ever conceived.

    As I said before. Whats wrong or unlawful in travelling up to the speed limit? The answer is absolutely nothing.

    Agree (9) | Disagree (0)

    Sorry, Hugh. I must be being a bit thick, but I don’t understand your point.
    Good one, Keith.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT
    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    It would be interesting to see the impact on the judicial system if this were to be enforced and all those issued a ticket exert their right to have their time in court.
    You can only assume the courts will be swamped and unable to cope and the system will collapse.

    Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

    At the risk of stating the obvious Nigel, if you didn’t “.. make the practice of trying to keep the needle spot on 30 in a 30 up hill and down dale…” you wouldn’t be vulnerable to prosecution in the fist place, regardless of tolerance! Why would you make that a practice anyway? If it’s supposed to be good practice in self-discipline, why not simply choose a lower fixed speed?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (7)

    Large vehicles in small streets. Speed limits are barely relevant. Our street is small terraced housing. To combat dangerous speeds the transport team has offered enforcement if there is significant evidence of 30mph plus 10%. Half that figure is max for the prevailing conditions.
    Time wasters.
    Roll-on AV’s, that will be competent to judge conditions and risk.

    Peter Treadgold, London
    Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

    The great obsessive speed issue. Yes, excessive speed for the circumstances is often a contributor to crashes but, Bob Craven’s point about space is, if anything, much more important and yet his comment has a +3-7 approval rating. You really do wonder how much many people in RS understand what really contributes to crashes on the roads.

    Years ago a police driving instructor defined key elements in the temperament of a good driver as being self-discipline and restraint, amongst others. I make the practice of trying to keep the needle spot on 30 in a 30 up hill and down dale, so long as it is safe, primarily because it is good practice in self-discipline. Sometimes it might be one mile an hour or so under, and at other times it might temporarily be just one mile an hour or so over. So, on this basis with zero tolerance I am vulnerable to prosecution for speeding. How interesting.

    But I agree with Hugh that this thing about examiners, and therefore ADIs, pushing pupils to keep up to the limit can lead to this be the target but, there are many instances where being at 30 in a 30 can be potentially dangerous and as another police driving instructor once said, the art is knowing when to go slowly. So, yes, it is a maximum, not a target per se.

    M. Worthington states, ‘As a result the vast majority of drivers adhere to the limit and drive to it.’. Unless down here in Somerset, for example, it is a county which is exclusively different to all others, or, the area where M. Worthington exists, if you keep to 30 you will mostly have people stamping on your tail and, not infrequently overtaking you because of the obstruction you are causing to their progress. Even many ADIs, in my experience, don’t keep to the limit. And taxi drivers are amongst the worst offenders.

    However, I don’t disagree that the principle of keeping to the limit is a good one but, with the overall reduction in police traffic patrols the possibility of getting drivers across the country to conform is going to be more than an uphill task because I don’t believe speed cameras alone are going to do it.

    So, it’s back to Bob’s very salient point. Space and time are your friend and a significant contributor to safety, if only many people would understand this. And ticketing for close following would do far more to adjust drivers attitudes generally than trying to get the nation not to be 1 mph over the limit.

    Agree (9) | Disagree (2)

    I agree.

    Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

    How many instructors have you checked with on this M.? If it’s as you say, clearly the instructors need educating and examining themselves.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (5) | Disagree (9)

    Hugh You say that the speed limit is not a target. As do many others in the road safety fraternity believe. How wrong can one be. Nowadays and even way back in the past a Driving Instructor would allow a newbie learner to drive slowly around the roads and then as they became more experienced they would wish for and encourage that driver to achieve driving at or up to the maximum speeds that the road will permit.

    Driving examiners would also expect any driver who presents themselves for a test to be so instructed. They have been known to fail drivers that do not conform to the speed limit be it over it or too low below it.

    And you say that it is not a limit that has to be obtained? They say differently. As a result the vast majority of drivers adhere to the limit and drive to it.

    Agree (12) | Disagree (3)

    The tolerance is not technically necessary with current devices, although I have had a couple of motorbikes in my younger days where the mechanical speedo was very erratic. Those speedos were probably more use as a compass than a speed measuring device.

    However the more important point is that whatever speed limit is set and whatever tolerance is “allowed”, if there are no police present and no automatic speed checks/cameras then it is frequently down to the driver/rider attitude what speed they travel at regardless of posted limits.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

    Can we please get away from the misguided notion that we all have to drive as close a possible to a speed limit. It’s an upper limit and if one makes a point of driving under it – with a margin – it won’t matter about enforcement tolerances and speedometer accuracy.

    Too many signed speed limits unfortunately can have the effect of leading some drivers to believe that it is the target speed, a recommendation, the ideal speed, and.. shudder.. an approved ‘safe’ speed.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

    I would like to see all drivers drive by their speedometers at all times and therefore not take advantage of any so called allowances given by any authority. Together with more space being given and a greater tolerance to a slightly slower speed our roads would be much safer.

    However the simple fact is that there are a variety of circumstances relating to the manufacture of the vehicle and tyre that can also alter ones speed, but as said they are generally always slower than that shown by the speedo…. which is a good thing.. One is that if a tyre is well worn then that vehicles speed will actually be slightly slower than if they had full rubber and in a roundabout way that could be a good thing.

    Unfortunately some manufacturers are better at manufacturing more accurate speed reading devices in cars and whilst some vehicles speedometers may show 30 mph. they may be actually doing only 27/28 mph. Then a driver of another vehicle may be approaching from the rear with a speedometer again showing 30 mph and in fact that vehicle may be actually doing 30 mph so he has a more accurate speedometer. Sometimes these vehicles become obvious to all and are known for travelling faster than other traffic in general and it may be because of this built in discrepancy.

    PS. These driver and also those that take advantage of the so called police allowance for not being prosecuted may also follow too close also or may overtake when its not absolutely lawful, safe or necessarily to do so.

    Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

    The tolerance on speed limit enforcement is not required. All speedos are designed to have all their inaccuracy as reading above the limit and never below.

    If you look at it rationally, it is no more difficult to keep to 30mph than it is to 35mph, or 40mph, or any other speed limit. Its simply the attitude of the driver. Setting a buffer zone re-enforces the idea that drivers can make their own personal assessments of whether the limit should be complied with and therefore sends out a huge endorsement on non-compliance.

    You can debate whether it should be a tolerance of 0 or 1mph, but it certainly should never be 10% + 2mph.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (9) | Disagree (10)

    That may be because it is nowhere near as widely known David and may come as a surprise to many. Whilst motorists may well be aware of tolerances with speeding enforcement, I doubt if many are aware of a tolerance for drink-driving. I understood that the initial roadside alcohol level test was black and white i.e. pass or fail with no tolerance, whereas with speeding, the initial roadside test is done with the 10% + included at the outset, although not mandatory. Perhaps a police officer reading this forum could elaborate on the drink-drive tolerances in practice.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

    As opposed to the outcry caused by the ~15% tolerance given for the purposes of detection and prosecution of drink-drive offences that already exists, if the evidential test is taken via a breathalyser, Hugh?

    David Weston, Corby
    Agree (10) | Disagree (2)

    This is something that I have been stating and arguing over for the last few years and I am glad that someone in authority has heard the plea to do something about it. Its partly as a result of this allowance that so many drivers have been tailgated and that causes collisions.

    It may be responsible for many of the collisions attributed to front/rear end shunts that plagues our roads. It is apparently the most common of all types of collisions. In the 2016 paper drawn up by Highways England who are responsible for the motorways, duel carriageways and main arterial roads it shows such collisions as being responsible for more deaths than any other causation. 45 persons killed, 494 seriously persons injured and 7,146 persons slightly injured. That is a combined total of 7,685 killed or injured in one year. It doesn’t take into account those collisions that occur on all the other more minor roads and streets in the UK.

    I hope that the Chief Constable will next look at the nationwide problem of tailgating and come up with an intervention that will help reduce this cause once and for all..

    Agree (8) | Disagree (14)

    I notice that – as far as I am aware anyway – no individual or motoring group has ever called for a 10% tolerance in the detection and prosecution of drink-drive offences. I would imagine there would be an outcry if so proposed.

    Isn’t Mr Bangham simply reminding people that the offence is actually exceeding the speed limit as posted and not “exceeding the speed limit plus 10% and maybe a little bit more”?

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (7) | Disagree (11)

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