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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 January, 2004, 10:21 GMT
Do the speeding laws need changing?
Changes in the speeding laws to spare motorists from being banned for relatively minor infringements could soon come into force.

The government is looking into a more "sophisticated" approach to speeding which could mean penalty points on licences being cut from three to two in certain circumstances.

At the moment, people are automatically fined 60 and get three points on their licence for each speeding offence.

Once they have accumulated 12 points, they are liable to be disqualified.

Is this a better way to deal with speeding? What initiatives do you think the government should take on?


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect a balance of opinion we have received so far:

Speed cameras are not enough of a deterrent for an offence that is potentially fatal for other road users
Alistair, Glasgow, Scotland
I think that there should be a radical improvement in speeding laws. Speed cameras are not enough of a deterrent for an offence that is potentially fatal for other road users. British Roads are too dangerous and the government need to really crack down on people breaking the speed laws. In my opinion a 60 fine and three points is not enough for breaking the speed limit, I think a ban should be placed on drivers breaking the speed limits, as it might be more of a deterrent. To some people 60 is nothing, but not being able to drive their car could mean a lot.
Alistair, Glasgow, Scotland

If the monies raised could be shown to benefit the road user then people may not mind so much.
David Thompson, Edinburgh

Speed does not kill. Speeding does. 20MPH at 830am outside a junior school is reckless. 100MPH on an empty motorway in the dry is not. Our method of policing the roads passively through fixed infrastructure misses entirely the point of context. This, then fails to improve the general standard of driving which is the key element in preventing, in a split second, a motoring drama becoming a crisis.
Alex, Leicester, UK

I was fined and given points a year ago for being TWO MILES over the 30mph speed limit. What is two miles an hour? Enough to dirty my licence for five years. Yes, it made me more careful, but every day I see several people tearing past me well over the limit, people who I'll assume never gets caught, as they still do it. This needs a serious looking at.
Amanda, oxford

Most accidents aren't caused by speeding. They result from carelessness - people still use their mobile phones while driving. Far too many people carry on driving even when they are exhausted. Many people continue to drive without glasses when their eyesight is becoming weaker. So many older drivers (over 60) are the cause of so much danger on the roads too.
ML, London, England

It's right to have a fixed speed limit and tough cameras in cities such as London. However in the countryside and on motorways, there should be variable speed limits depending on the traffic condition. Cameras should be put in two places, one where speeding has caused accidents, and where traffic needs to be slowed down e.g. before a busy or dangerous junction.
Adam Ross, London

Speeding drivers should not get points on their licence unless it can be shown they were driving dangerously. So often people "speed" by accident, especially in 30mph areas; they are too busy concentrating on keeping with the flow and driving safely to notice they have crept 5 or 10mph over the limit.
David R, Plymouth UK

Speed cameras don't catch drunk drivers, drivers without insurance, drivers of overloaded vehicles etc.
Jenni, Bristol, England
How many more deaths on the road will it take for the road safety "experts" to acknowledge that their obsession with punishing speeding motorists isn't reducing accident figures. The laws relating to speed don't need changing. What most motorists want is a reduction in the number of cameras and an increase in the deployment of police traffic patrols. Speed cameras don't catch drunk drivers, drivers without insurance, drivers of overloaded vehicles etc.
Jenni, Bristol, England

Would it not be easier to increase the speed limit to 100 Mph on the motorway. Instead of talking about fining people. I do not care about people who are speeding on the motorway, but generally I am irritated about middle lane drivers which are doing 60 mph and who are totally not aware of the left lane been empty. I also want to see increased fines for speeding in built up areas where the limit is 30 mph.
Thierry Dumessie, Andover UK

The punishments for speeding in the UK are vastly harsher than in the majority of the EU, or US, and many people here seem to want these exercised arbitrarily. This principle is a nonsense - if every law in this country was exercised with zero discretion, the UK would be unbearable. What's next? 100 spot fines for people who drop litter, accidentally or not? The money could be ploughed back into rubbish collection - hmm... perhaps we need cameras to enforce the law..
Chris Bland, London, UK

First thing we need to see is Cameras only where there is a danger. The public need to see that it's not just a money making operation. Speeding does not kill - bad driving does. The fact is cars are dangerous things and accidents will happen. You could apply the same silly rules to everything and never take any risks. Of you hit someone in a 30 limit and you are doing 30, you will still kill them. As to the arguments about speeders putting money back into dealing with congestion are crazy. Anyone who lives even a snip outside a major town can tell you how abysmal public transport is.
Matt, UK

With the emphasis on speeding the government avoids looking at the greater problem of drivers of unregistered, unlicensed, unisured and untaxed vehicles. Legal drivers are a soft target for revenue generating, why not resource the removal of this element of the driving community which would improve road saftey and as a by product reduce congestion. I suggest that drivers of these types of vehicle have them confiscated until they can prove they are legally entitled to drive.
Emal, London

It would appear that we can now go over the maximum speed limit because the police don't have the resources to do anything about it. The only restriction is that it mustn't be too much over the speed limit. Sorry, but a limit should mean what it indicates.
Les Woods, Lincoln/UK

There are far too many cars on the roads for such a geographically small country. There is no room for more cars or foolish drivers. Regular re-testing, steep fines and license bans are the way to go. Use all the money from speedsters/law-breakers to improve the dismal state of public transport - thus reducing congestion in the roads and also giving people more of a choice on how they travel.
Renee Last, West Sussex

I think there is too much testosterone involved in the speeding motorist. Perhaps sterilisation may reduce the act of speeding. It sure would be an effective deterrent.
Russell, Derby, UK

Speeding kills, full stop. The laws should be made harsher and more draconian to prevent further loss of life.
Michael Stewart, Luton

Rob, N.Yorks, England

Motorists are fed up with inappropriate speed limits
Rob Edwards, Crewe England
Motorists are fed up with inappropriate speed limits. Variable limits based on road conditions, volume of traffic, time of day would be far more practical, they would keep traffic moving and drivers would view them as fair. They can't be more costly than speed cameras that only cut speeding for a few yards usually in totally inappropriate places. We need to get traffic moving freely, speed up motorways 100mph limit. Better education and severe penalties for bad/dangerous driving.
Rob Edwards, Crewe England

Cameras in every car, watching the driver and passengers, is the only safe approach. Anything less is effectively actively condoning inattentive and dangerous driving and whatever comes with that.
Steve, UK

If the government was really interested in road safety they would introduce mandatory retesting of all drivers every five years, instead of this crazy new introduction. It's the threat of losing your licence not fines that deter. Our premiership football stars with there flash cars will love this new way of dealing with speed limits, as fines mean nothing to them. The DSA want to get there act together and come up with a worth while policy instead of making driving instructors go through a hazard perception test when they are aware of hazards much more than others. It seems that money is more important than road safety.
Joe, Newcastle

Speed cameras do little to improve road safety - they do not stop the person overtaking on inside of the tailgater or any of the other dangerous practices that some indulge in. Most accidents take place at junctions, where speed cameras are of little help. What we need to make roads safer are more police patrols. - But we won't get them because they cost too much!!
JHE, London

I live in a high agricultural area with its associated slow moving vehicles (tractors etc.) and there are a lot of speed limits of 30mph and 40mph around due to the large amount of villages in the area which I condone but at times you have to break the limit to overtake these slow moving vehicles. Should the police bear this in mind when censuring the speed of vehicles?
John Davies, Lincolnshire

The present speed limit on motorways came into force when most cars could only just do 70mph. I think with the standard of modern engineering the speed limit could be increased, but on the other hand in housing estates and near schools it could be reduced, like it is here in Germany. Britain already has the lowest death rate in Europe but people are always saying the speed limit is too high. The standard of driving desperately needs to improve in the UK, because when I am back in Britain most of the drivers who seem to cause problems on the roads are people drive slowly.
Steve, Germany

Changes to the speeding laws can only go so far. Re-educating drivers is the best way forward. It seems astounding to think that you could pass your test at 17 and then not have to do anything towards keeping it for the next 53 years.
Martin B, Eastbourne

There should be far more cameras, especially in towns and residential streets
Ian, Ware, Herts
I'm sick to death of motorists bleating about cameras being a form of tax. If you're that worried about it, then don't go above the speed limit. And speed limits are not just about safety, it's also about keeping noise levels down - speeding motorists late at night are a menace to those of us who are trying to sleep. There should be far more cameras, especially in towns and residential streets.
Ian, Ware, Herts

The talk is always about punishment. Why is it all about the stick approach rather than the carrot. How about incentives to drive well such as lower road tax payments for motorists never caught speeding.
Lee B, Eastbourne, UK

The only reason the government is relenting on the points system is the fear that banning too many drivers off the road will mean fewer drivers speeding and hence less money to be extorted from the motorist.
Matt, London

The Government says that speed camera's are only positioned where there has been a serious accident or death in the last three years. I have seen speed cameras in places there haven't been either of these. I am glad that someone is finally going to review the speeding situation and we can see some of these camera's in pointless places taken down and the money put to better use.
Jenna Phillips, Surrey, England

It doesn't matter if they change the limits or not. They will always be broken.
Jon, England

What is a minor infringement? Given that the norm is that most people drive around 10mph above the speed limit in built up areas, are they going to try and clamp down on all these people? Also, as someone who has driven 15,000 miles this year, I find it is not feasible to stick to 30mph, when the rest of traffic is moving 40mph. You just end up being more of a hindrance, than a help.
Marcus, London

ALL drivers have exceeded the speed limit and MOST drivers do so consistently. To have this level of 'law breaking' indicates that there is something wrong with the law!
Craig, UK

The knowledge that 12 points could cost me my licence, my car, my job and my house ensures that I never let it happen.
Kathy, UK
Speed limits on motorways are routinely ignored and the stopping distances in the Highway Code relate to 1960s brake technology. Having said that, the knowledge that 12 points could cost me my licence, my car, my job and my house ensures that I never let it happen. Change the speed limits on motorways or update the rules but keep the ultimate threat of loss of licence.
Kathy, UK

All roads should have their limits reviewed and all the reasons for the limit should be published - that's visibility, quality and size of road, likelihood of children or pedestrians, noise nuisance, everything.
Anyone with an interest could then challenge a limit they thought was unreasonable where at the moment there is often no apparent reason for a limit. Once this data has been made available the speed laws should be enforced exactly as legally provided for and individuals can either keep to the posted limit or get caught, pay up and accept that they did wrong.
Justin Rowles, Southampton, UK.

Reducing the points given to 2 instead of 3 just allows them to make more money, instead of been caught 4 times and banned (240) in total fines) it will be caught 5 times (300 in fines)
Peter Muir, Edinburgh

Only 3% of accidents involve vehicles exceeding the speed limit it's hard to regard speed cameras as anything more than cash generators
Phil, Helmsley
The authorities currently justify speed cameras by statistics showing a fall in accidents at camera sites. But this pre-supposes cameras are sited at accident black spots. Otherwise you could site a magic lightning detector at the site of a previous lightning strike and claim it's a success just because it doesn't get hit again. Analysis of accidents in Durham failed to identify any accident black spot and tended to show most accidents as random events. As only 3% of accidents involve vehicles exceeding the speed limit it's hard to regard speed cameras as anything more than cash generators.
Phil, Helmsley

I am in favour of stronger penalties for speeding. At present, people only worry about it when they've gotten 9 or 10 points against them. Meanwhile, they speed as much as they like. Time to make people more concerned with speeding all the time.
Jessima, UK

I think the answer is simple. Increase the number of points every time someone is caught. After 3 offences impose an automatic 1 year ban and a re-test. If you have 2 bans then a life long ban. Too many people are killed due to excessive speed on our roads and it's about time the hooligans that do it are stopped.
Andy Balding, Plymouth UK

Yes, they're far too draconian as they stand, and moreover, they don't work!
I've never been stopped in my car in over 30 years of driving, so if I were to be banned, I'd probably drive anyway, but with no insurance (as appears to be the norm for other banned drivers), chances of being caught are almost NIL.
Bry, UK

Why is there always such an emphasis on speeding? There are many other ways of endangering lives whilst behind the wheel. If we had decent numbers of patrol cars they can fine those actually driving dangerously, that should rake in billions judging by my experiences.
William Body, Leics

I would advocate 4 points or more for speeding in a 30mph zone, and 2 for on a motorway. Most children are killed near their home by people doing 40mph in a 30mph zone. However, road safety is a major issue that has been dominated purely by speed for too long. Driving standards are terrible, and people have virtually no danger of getting caught or punished as long as they pass a camera at or under the limit. More traffic police would help.
Neil McKinlay, Scotland

Outright speeding is often not dangerous. In many instances slow driving is more dangerous than fast because it causes frustration and leads to risk taking. My suggestions are to pay greater attention to the offences that are really dangerous (lights not working, using the phone, etc) and also introduce and enforce minimum speed limits so that there is far less of a speed differential in the traffic. A policy of using the speed limit as a goal, conditions permitting would also be a good idea. This is what trainee motorcyclists are taught.
Steve, Chelmsford, UK

We need tougher laws and bigger fines for those who break the rules of the road
Richard, Croydon
We need tougher laws and bigger fines for those who break the rules of the road. Speeding contributes to the thousands of deaths on the roads every year. Punish those who defy the law and save the lives of innocent road users.
Richard, Croydon

The fact that the Government are considering reducing the penalties for speeding show as clear as day that the cameras are considered more for their revenue raising abilities than for their deterrent effect. If it is wrong to speed then the number caught doing it should not force the law to be changed, the fact that it is finally cuts through the sham that cameras are there solely to cut accidents.
Gerry, Scotland

I think the circumstances of the offence need to be taken into account more than they are at the moment. As an example, a motorist caught doing 80mph on an empty motorway will receive the same fine as one doing 37mph outside a school at the start of a school day. They are both offences, but to me the speeding in a built up area is and should be treated more severely than the speeding on the empty motorway.
Jan, UK

It is not "speed" as such that causes accidents - it is "inappropriate speed" for the circumstances. Fixed speed cameras that commuters drive past every day do not stop those drivers who decide to exceed the limit from doing so. They simply slow down as they pass the cameras and speed up again afterwards.
Chris, UK

This is only acceptable if coupled with provisions which protect people from cars. 20mph in all built up areas would be a good start.
Jake, London, UK

A return to proper policing and driver education is what is needed. Before speed cameras road death was falling annually and we had the safest roads in the world. Deaths involving excess speed only account for about 7% of accidents, not the tired old lie of 33% trotted out by the government, and the anti motorist lobbies who use emotional blackmail at every opportunity. Speed cameras are actually making our roads more dangerous and of course, do not spot the dangerous, drunk or just bad driver.
Robert, Formby, UK

There is a lot more to safe driving than religiously keeping to an arbitrarily defined number
John B, UK
It's not just about speeding, the speed kills brigade need to know that there is a lot more to safe driving than religiously keeping to an arbitrarily defined number. There are times when it is safer to exceed the speed limit for a short time than to keep to it. There are other times when driving at the speed limit is dangerous. With currently available technology we should be looking at variable speed limits based on aspects such as time of day (especially useful near schools), weather conditions and the like. A legal 30mph outside a primary school on a sunny Friday afternoon is probably too fast. An illegal 95mph on an empty motorway in the middle of the night is probably not. Let's have a little common sense applied rather than the usual "one size fits all" lunacy.
John B, UK

If you break the law you should be punished. Speed restrictions are there for a reason, to protect yourself and others. I have never been caught speeding, and I admit I do sometimes, but if I was caught I would admit it and take the punishment. Leave the rules as they are there is no need to change them, in fact if anything make them more harsh. We should all calm down its better for everyone's health.
Steve, Bristol, UK

They will drop the points, but keep the tax - oops, sorry "fine". No point having a cash cow that's banned from driving - there's no profit in it for them!
Roger, Whitwick England

It all depends on what is meant by 'minor'. In a residential area, 5mph could mean the difference between life and death but on a motorway, it probably wouldn't make much difference.
Catherine O, Maidenhead, UK

Like it or not, speeding is illegal and drivers who speed persistently are risking their own safety and that of others. I am a driver and I am quite happy to obey the limits. It is time that a small minority of drivers who frequently speed grow up and accept that what they are doing is both dangerous and illegal.
Matt, UK




SEE ALSO:
Tories tackle speed camera rules
30 Dec 03  |  Politics
Drivers 'to escape speed points'
23 Jan 04  |  Politics
Force in row over speed cameras
10 Dec 03  |  England


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