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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 16:31 GMT
What would stop drivers speeding?
Speeding car
More than half of British drivers break speed limits every day, a survey by a motoring organisation the RAC suggests.

The RAC says 30mph limits are the most likely to be ignored as drivers do not believe they will be caught.

Those surveyed suggested that an immediate 12-month ban or an electronic tracking device fitted to cars would be the best deterrents, but the RAC thinks there should be better detection, tougher penalties and more education.

Do you break speed limits? What would be the best deterrent?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

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

Just impound the vehicle and make the driver walk home
John, France
Introduce a total 50mph speed limit. This would cut pollution, fuel consumption, serious accidents and congestion all in one go. As for penalties just impound the vehicle and make the driver walk home.
John, France

Don't fine people for speeding, but restrict the engine size of the car they are allowed to drive, so that they can't speed. This might also concentrate their minds.
Vic, UK

Oxfordshire has come up with two very simple ways of controlling the speed of its motorists. Firstly don't maintain the smaller roads, they'll soon be very difficult to drive on, let alone speed on. Secondly, by the forcing all of the traffic on to a few main roads, they become so busy that even a small accident can gridlock a quarter of the county. I obey the speed limits, but not through choice.
Rufus Trotman, Oxfordshire, UK

All roads within 10 metres of a house, workplace or nightspot should be limited to 20mph. Your bank details should be collected by the government. Cars should all be fitted with APC "Automatic Penalty Collection" devices, linked to roadside transponders and GPS. Your speeding fines will then automatically be taken from your bank account. Bans and re-education should be used for the most serious offenders. Speed kills.
SJ, Aylesbury

The Germans have far fewer accidents than us in the UK
Nick, UK
Coaches often overtake me if I stick to 70 mph on a motorway. Why is it that, in Germany, vast sections of the Autobahns are unrestricted and you can be prosecuted for driving too slow! The Germans have far fewer accidents than us in the UK. Could someone please explain that? You also get prosecuted for tailgating in Germany. When was the last time you saw a police car stop someone for anything other than speeding? Come to think of it, when was the last time you actually saw a police car? Catching people breaking an ancient, arbitrarily set speed limit using cameras is a nice little earner.
Nick, UK

Nick, UK asks: Why the Germans have far fewer accidents than us in the UK. This is because the Germans also have far more stringent driving tests than the UK does.
Chris Neville-Smith, Durham, England

Let's focus on driving safely rather than driving below an arbitrarily defined number. Driving at a legal 60mph around some of the rural Devonshire roads would be suicidal, yet driving at 80mph on an empty motorway is perfectly safe. Let's stop pretending there is any science to speed limits and educate drivers in safe driving generally. Unfortunately cameras can't detect tailgating, talking on a mobile phone, fumbling with a cassette or CD and weaving through traffic so someone speeding is prosecuted while someone tailgating is not.
John B, UK

Yes, there have been times when I've been over the speed limit. I think the solution is to make cars that are slower. Who in the world needs a car that goes 100 miles per hour any way?
Joao, Sacramento, USA

A twelve month ban would be a great deterrent
F Cupman, London, UK
The standard of road use in Britain is appalling. I treat our roads with respect; I do not break the speed limits and keep my vehicle in a roadworthy condition. These things seem to be a big joke for many motorists, examples of this are the new laws governing use of a handheld phone whilst driving, I now see more drivers committing this dangerous act than ever before! Tougher speeding laws are desperately needed. A twelve month ban would be a great deterrent, as indeed would the disposal of repeat offender's vehicles. Points on licences and heavy fines would work along with driver re-education, perhaps in the form of an advanced test at the offenders expense.
F Cupman, London, UK

Tell manufacturers to stop making such ridiculously fast cars and motorbikes. However, I think it is impossible to stop people speeding as everyone is in such a rush these days.
Ian, UK

Sensible and consistent speed limits that bear some relationship to the road and its surroundings!
Matt Munro, Bristol, UK

I always thought that in a democracy the will of the majority was meant to win out - if more than half admit to speeding (so you can bet the real percentage is higher still) why not increase the speed limits. Oh, sorry, I forgot, nanny and her team of safety industry "consultants" need to make money and have their snouts too deep in the trough. If the RAC really recommends more enforcement and detection as a drivers organisation they should be ashamed.
JD, Kent

Most speed limits that were set in 1960s are not appropriate
Buzz, Glasgow
We need a review of speed limits. Most speed limits that were set in 1960s are not appropriate. One priority is to stop lying to drivers. If you read the government's reports, speed is only stated as a factor in how severe an accident is. It is only very rarely listed as the cause of the accident. British and European statistics indicate that less accidents occur at higher speeds and that our safest roads are our fastest roads.
Buzz, Glasgow

I endeavour to stick to 30 and 40 speed limits but there always seems someone pushing or even overtaking. Vehicles should be built with automatic devices triggered to restrict speed. It is possible that some limits could be raised though.
Malc , Chesterfield

Don't make cars that go faster than the limit. A 1 litre engine is adequate for almost all personal driving.
Tom Lee, Guernsey

Let's get a sense of proportion here
Anon, Bracknell, UK
Let's get a sense of proportion here - driving at 80 instead of 70 on a motorway is an entirely different matter to driving at 40 in a 30 zone. I speed every day, on a stretch of motorway, but I never break the speed limit in built up areas where there is a risk of pedestrians and bikes. I consider myself a safe driver and drive at the speed I feel is appropriate. There's far more danger from tailgaters and people who don't look or indicate when changing lanes.
Anon, Bracknell, UK

There is a stretch of road that I regularly use which, over the last 10 years, has gone from a national speed limit zone to a 40, even though traffic volume has reduced due to a bypass. Why has this speed limit been changed? I don't know, but it seems ludicrous to me. Either educate me on the reasons or set sensible limits so 'speeders' know exactly what they are doing, and will face justified penalties.
S Lee, UK

As more speed cameras are by far preferable to humps - cameras only affect the criminal driver - while a hump affects us all - I am who support their use. The cameras need to be randomly places as well as at accident spots, and need to include those who detect average speed too. These are the preferred type for motorways and the faster roads. Until such investment can be achieved, then the current fines should double for second and subsequent offences.
Bill Potter,

There isn't a "quick fix" for this
Siggy, Worksop
I think education is the key - the drink driving campaign has been effective - but it will take a lot of time. There isn't a "quick fix" for this. Increasing fines should certainly be considered. Given the probability of being caught and then paying a minimal fine there is no deterrent. I also agree with other comments that speed limits should be reviewed.
Siggy, Worksop

Accidents on the roads are also caused by other road users not expecting people to be driving over the limit. Most people would appear to be in far too much of a rush and are very impatient drivers causing them to speed unnecessarily.
Robert Gardner, Manchester

The old style RSA speed cops would work well here. They caught you, and you got a fine. Argue and you got a bigger fine. No points on the licence, just the fine, and the absolute certainty that when you broke the limit they would catch you. The money they got went into funding their department, with the result that there were always enough traffic cops to catch any speeding motorist. Simple - effective.
Derrick, Eastbourne, UK

As with all surveys, the wording is critical - respondents were asked what would be necessary to stop them, NOT what they believed the penalty should be. The law is meant to reflect the views of the people in a democracy and if there is a continuing disregard for speed limits perhaps they should be revised at least in non-urban areas. Less emphasis on punishment and more on education within the framework of limits that are seen to be fair and reasonable is what is needed.
Alastair, Scotland

70 mph on a clear motorway is a nonsensically low limit
James, London, UK
Talk to a trained traffic police officer (not that there's many left these days) and they'll tell you that 20, 30, and 40 limits should be rigorously enforced through a mixture of punishment and driver education. They'll also tell you that 70 mph on a clear motorway is a nonsensically low limit. They stress "speed sense", ie it is perfectly possible to be driving dangerously UNDER the limit, and safely OVER it depending on the circumstances. Cameras make money, education saves lives.
James, London, UK

All cars should be fitted with a gadget to make them stay within the speed limit. Surely this technology should be widely available in 5 to 10 years. I don't see the point with other solutions when the answer is just around the corner.
Lee Noonan, Farnborough, UK

I don't believe that speeding is anywhere near as big a problem as we have been led to believe. The 'spin' of one third of all accidents are speed is related nonsense, the actual data does not support this! The reality is that a huge proportion of British drivers can't drive safely at any speed, removing these from the system would probably be more effective than speed restrictions.
Jon, UK

In America people do not generally break the speed limits because of the massive fines imposed. This is one occasion where we can learn from the USA. The points system and fines here are not a big enough deterrent to stop people taking a chance.
Tracy, Huddersfield

The greatest deterrents to speeding are (1) a change in society's attitude i.e stop blaming the speed cameras for catching you out (2) effective and immediate and enforceable penalties.
Bernadette, Birmingham, UK

If half of drivers break the speed limit, and yet casualties on the road are so small in comparison, why not raise the speed limits accordingly? All we are doing is criminalising respectable and safe drivers, potentially depriving them of a livelihood in exchange for onerous stealth taxation via the speed camera.
Geoff, Portsmouth

The best way to stop speed limits being broken is to set sensible limits in the first place. Many appear to have been set purely to give the opportunity for speed camera revenues. For instance, here in Nottingham there are dual carriageways with 30mph limits when 40mph would be perfectly safe. Motorways should be 90mph with a minimum 60 mph.
Dave Hough, Nottingham

I usually drive at or slightly above the speed limit. However, I find that even when I am exceeding the speed limit, I usually have some fool right up behind me trying to overtake me at the first possibility. I would cycle more but I'm actually too afraid to. The only thing that will solve the problem completely will be black boxes in every car linked up to a GPS which would not allow you to drive over the speed limit.
Karl, Guildford, Surrey

I'll admit, I speed all the time. The only thing that will stop me speeding is if a) I see a police car (although this only stops me until the police car is out of sight) or b) the threat of an immediate ban, regardless of how much you are going over the limit. If there was a threat that if I was caught speeding I would be banned from driving, this would slow me down.
Anon, West Yorkshire

We should bring back more traffic police
Mike, Yorkshire

As a person who breaks a speed limit just about every time I drive a car or ride a bike, the only way to stop me breaking them would be to make the limits realistic. I fail to see why you cannot do 80, 90, or 100mph+ on a deserted motorway because it's illegal, yet it's perfectly legal to drive past a school at 1530 hours at 30mph, which is quite clearly too fast. However current government policy is to dumb down the drivers thought process to: "Am I exceeding the posted limit? Yes or no."

If they are not breaking the limit, then they think they are not dangerous. We should bring back more traffic police. At least they can make a judgement on your driving, rather than just using a black and white selection criteria like the Scamera Partnerships do; but then everybody knows they are about making money rather than improving road safety.
Mike, Yorkshire

Try living away from a city! Since moving to a nice village, I always do 30mph in the 30mph zone and never break the speed limit outside villages either. I respect the 30mph speed limit because it makes sense. It is harder to stick to it on a clear road where the limit should be higher.
Yan G, UK

Just try obeying the speed limits! Five minutes at the correct speed and you have some idiot up your bumper trying to give you a push. Get the tailgaters too, it is dangerous driving and should be prosecuted.
Pete Nightingale, Reading, UK

I think more speed cameras are the way forward, but they should be better disguised than the ones currently in use. To the pro-driver lobby that so passionately hate them, the answer is very simple: Don't break the law. The latest anti-speeding campaign is very good and makes an excellent point - it's 30 for a reason.
Katie, Luton, Beds

At least, then, half of British drivers are honest - most of the rest are lying. Try driving at 70 on a motorway, and see what proportion of cars overtake you. I certainly break the speed limit every day. I would be perfectly happy with automatic speed control systems in cars, or many, many more hidden speed cameras, to strictly enforce limits. Why? Because the reason I give up trying to stick to the limit is because so few others do. The roads are no safer for the odd one or two who obey the limits, but they lose out by being left behind the rest.
Anon, Huddersfield, UK

I am sad to say that I find it very difficult to stick to speed limits. So far I have a clean license but I am not sure how. The only things that make me slow down on the roads are: Police presence and those signs that flash up what your speed is, telling you to slow down. It sounds gimmicky but it always slows me down.
Emma Morum, Feltham, UK

Back in Australia, I would never speed for fear of being caught by police radar and high level of demerit points I would get
Lin, Kingston-Upon-Thames

I have done more than the speed limit on the motorway. I find that it's the braking for speed cameras that causes the most risky situations on the motorway. However, back in Australia, I would never speed for fear of being caught by police radar and high level of demerit points I would get. If I was 30kph over the limit, I would have lost my licence. So a tough penalty must also be used with better detection.
Lin, Kingston-Upon-Thames

Well said RAC. I know what broke me out of denial about speeding. It was having to drive past memorial flowers on a lamp post where a child had been killed by a car going too fast to stop, with the sign: "Please kill your speed not my children." Perhaps more memorials like this, as odious as the thought may be, would help us all to grow up and get a life.
Max Bullingham, Gloucester, England

A good place to start would be a review of speed limits to ensure that all limits are actually appropriate to the stretch of road they apply to.
Richard P, Bradford, UK

I break the limit quite frequently on the motorway, but consider myself a safe driver, I don't tailgate or sit in the middle lane or part take in any other dangerous behaviour, and as such feel I am much less of a menace than those that do. Let's start targeting those people.
Rebecca, Wales

Speed limits need to be reviewed to make them sensible and enforceable
David Andrews, Basingstoke, UK
If everyone breaks a law, then it's a bad law. Speed limits need to be reviewed to make them sensible and enforceable.
David Andrews, Basingstoke, UK

Maybe an update to the highway code? Britain's roads and traffic have changed over the past 50 years, in some places lower limits are needed but in some they should be raised. One thing is for sure, the government won't increase bans but will impose fines and not spend the cash on the road networks.
Ade, Chelmsford, UK

Compulsory fitting of restrictors and GPS systems so that cars can only reach certain speeds depending on local speed limits and weather conditions. Also drivers could start thinking about others rather than themselves.
Mark S, Manchester, UK

I'd be interested to know if people speed because they want to, or because they get caught up in the traffic. I make a point of sticking to the 30 limits in Bristol. Sometimes you get people up your back trying to push you over the limit. Why speed though? Chances are, you'll be stuck in a jam soon anyway. And, if someone is really pushing though, I like to cruise down to a steady 25.
KG, Bristol, UK

Set realistic speed limits - that means 80-85mph at least on the motorway, but could mean 20mph in busy built-up areas, or higher than at present limits on things like urban dual carriageways, and enforce strictly using SPECS-type cameras rather than Gatsos which encourage panic braking. Punishment would be by a fine, perhaps at a higher level than at present, and points as now. A ban for a minor speeding offence would be draconian, and I personally would not want a government official tracking me around the country all the time.
Neil Williams, UK

It is impossible to drive safely while keeping to the speed limit. There is a 20mph zone around a primary school near my house. But if you actually went at 20mph, you'd be going so slow compared to most of the traffic that you'd be causing accidents. When I was out with my driving instructor it was very alarming to see so many people overtaking me when I was technically 5mph over the speed limit. The numbers of people who had to brake sharply behind me was very worrying.
Jeffrey Lake, London, UK

What would stop drivers speeding? Sensible speed limits for a start. Can somebody please explain why, at 2am with no traffic at all, on a dry motorway I shouldn't be allowed to drive at 90mph?
Richard, UK


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