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Wednesday, 31 May, 2000, 11:44 GMT 12:44 UK
Speeding: Should the law be enforced?

Police forces across much of the UK are facing a legal challenge over the way speed limits are enforced.

Under current rules, motorists driving in 30mph zones are not stopped unless they pass a speed of 35mph.

Safety campaigners at Transport 2000 say that the guidelines are pushing up the legal speed limit and costing lives.

What do you think?

Should the speeding law be strictly enforced or are police right to allow the 5mph "buffer"?

HAVE YOUR SAY There is simply no excuse for driving over the limit in urban areas. Those who complain about having to watch the speedometer have a simple solution. Drive more slowly, then you'll be sure to be under the limit. If you can't judge that, you shouldn't be driving. It should also be remembered that not all speed limits are there for safety. Some are put there for traffic control on busy approach roads. Perhaps a variable, electronic signpost could be used in these cases.
Pierre, England



I have recently decided to cease driving, and as a pedestrian it seems to me that a lot of motorists would rather knock me down than take a few minutes longer on their journeys

James Carlton, UK
Why should I have to drive at 70mph along a straight, dry, motorway with no cars in front for a considerable distance, in daylight, and yet be allowed to drive 30mph in a built-up area, when the former is much less dangerous than the latter? There should be less emphasis on speed than on safety. For example, in some circumstances I drive considerably slower than the speed limit, and sometimes get tailgated by unthinking drivers, sadly, I must say, an increasing proportion of which seem to be female.
Nigel, UK

I have recently decided to cease driving, and as a pedestrian it seems to me that a lot of motorists would rather knock me down than take a few minutes longer on their journeys. I am in favour of speeding enforcement.
James Carlton, UK

I recently spent a week in the UK (Scotland and England) and I was pleasantly surprised by the polite and safe driving we found on UK roads. There are obviously some things which are working in your system. In comparison, one should try driving in Belgium. Excessive speeds - 160km in a 120 zone, red lights mean go not STOP! Tail-gaiting is common and lights flash if you do not move over very promptly. The UK does not have much to complain about yet!
Margaret Carre, Belgium

I would hate to be a pedestrian when many of the people who have commented here are driving. I have read far too many justifications for breaking the speed limit. A 30mph limit is there for a reason, and with so many people prepared to disregard it with such reckless ignorance, it's no wonder so many people are killed on our roads.
Jim, UK



A large proportion of today's drivers clearly aren't safe and should either improve their skills drastically or give up driving completely.

Rich, England
There's a blinding obvious solution that the government could use to both make the roads much safer AND reduce pollution: get the idiots off the road. Make the driving test much harder. A large proportion of today's drivers clearly aren't safe and should either improve their skills drastically or give up driving completely
Rich, England

There is a tendency for the anti-car community to make it sound as if the United Kingdom is the most dangerous place on the planet. Actually, Britain has the safest roads in the developed world. (Road fatalities, Economist May 6 2000).
Bob Gardiner, England

When it comes to cars, it seems most of us take leave of our senses. A quick look through the highway code shows that when it comes to roads and road users the car is king. I therefore find it unbelievable that there is this pervasive attitude that speed limits don't really matter. They do. Ask anyone who has been hit by half a ton of metal at 30 mph. If no one likes the imposition of a speed limit (which is legitimately set) then you should not drive.
Jon B, Sweden



Transport 2000 appears to have little interest in transport. It does not seem to consider groups such as hauliers and business where time costs money, and speed limits cost time

Ian Sharp, England
Transport 2000 appears to have little interest in transport. It does not seem to consider groups such as hauliers and business where time costs money, and speed limits cost time. High speed, used responsibly does not kill.
Ian Sharp, England

As a driver I am very conscious of the speed limit in residential areas. However, living in London, I find the danger is not so much in driver speeds, but in the incredibly stupid way that many people park, blocking pavements and roads. If we are to be stringent on road speed limits, then surely other forms of road etiquette should be monitored as strictly.
Claire Wearn, England

The major flaw in Transport 2000's argument is that it does not explain why, despite having some of the safest roads in the world, we have a disproportionate number of child fatalities. I think the most likely cause is the gross legal anomalies surrounding bicycle use. It is still considered acceptable for a child or other cyclist to take to the road without either holding, or being escorted by someone holding, any form of driving license.
Essada, UK

I've lived in a Germany for a year, where residential areas are policed very strictly. On the other hand, their other roads are fast. Famously, many autobahns have no speed limit. Because people are taught how to drive properly, and drive cars designed to travel fast, accidents are uncommon on these roads.
Darren Yeats, UK



Speed enforcement is used as an excuse for prosecuting as many people as possible as a source of income for the Treasury

Rob, UK
The Dutch are experimenting with a system that automatically slows down a car that is approaching a school or built-up area. Whatever the driver does, it's impossible for the car to go faster. After the car has passed the built-up area it is allowed to speed up. Since drivers are so irresponsible, more of their power should be taken away from them.
Iwan Turzanski, Netherlands

The sad fact is that a lot of speed limits in Britain are introduced without justification. They exist purely to make car use more unpleasant in the hope that people will abandon their cars and get on the filthy, decrepit public transport system so beloved of our government. Speed enforcement is used as an excuse for prosecuting as many people as possible as a source of income for the Treasury. It's perfectly possible to drive dangerously at any speed.
Rob, UK

Be honest, Transport 2000 are not "safety campaigners", they are "anti-car campaigners".
Peter, England



When the police start to round up the yobs that cause untold misery to law-abiding motorists, I will accept them pursuing those who exceed the speed limit by a small margin

John R, UK
Transport 2000 once again change their tactics in their war against the motorist. Their main interest is to make driving so unpleasant that people will be forced out of their cars.
Keith Walker, UK

We wouldn't allow people to play or walk near dangerous industrial machinery so why is there no examination of how roads and people can be more safely segregated? It isn't cars that kill but the poor mix of people and cars in busy traffic areas.
Peter Farrington, England

The arrogance of people suggesting that the onus of road safety be put onto children is quite typical of road users in the UK. All the problems caused by traffic is someone else's fault. If they could get their backsides out of their cars for once instead of driving everywhere each time they ventured out of their doors, perhaps pedestrians may be able to walk safely without the constant fear of being run over by speeders.
Derek Dunn, Manchester, UK

I wish people would stop bleating that motorists aren't being punished enough. When the police start to round up the yobs that cause untold misery to law-abiding motorists, I will accept them pursuing those who exceed the speed limit by a small margin. Until then, let's get our priorities right.
John R, UK



Two 18 year old boys from my daughter's class in school died last night when their car, which was apparently being driven too fast, went out of control. Not only have 2 mothers lost sons, but a father of 3 was critically injured in the accident

Sandra Gibbens, UK
Hard and fast interpretation of any speed limit will inevitably induce drivers to focus their attention on their speed and their eyes on the speedometer when they should be looking at the road ahead in depth, to assess hazards and avoid a collision. Governing speeds is vital, but rigid rules will not help.
Shaun Laidler, UK

I totally agree that we should adopt a zero tolerance policy on speeding, particularly in urban areas. However, I doubt that this will have a noticeable effect on road deaths and casualties as it is reaction times that are key here, and a 5mph reduction in speed will not decrease reaction time. It will also be nearly impossible for the police to resource such a policy.
Andy Stringer, UK

It is up to the authorities to uphold the speed limits, as set by government. I call for a campaign to change the public's perception of speeding. I would like society to regard speeding as being as abhorrent as drink-driving. There may then be a huge stigma attached to speeding which will hopefully reduce the carnage on our roads.
E D Leech, UK

The police are simply being pragmatic. They do not wish to face a legal challenge from large numbers of drivers being prosecuted for driving at 31mph. It's all a question of balance but I wonder, when so many innocent lives are lost through excessive or inappropriate speeds, why many of us do not regard the problem with the same seriousness as drink driving.
John, London

Two 18 year old boys from my daughter's class in school died last night when their car, which was apparently being driven too fast, went out of control. Not only have 2 mothers lost sons, but a father of 3 was critically injured in the accident. Speed controls with heavy penalties are desperately needed.
Sandra Gibbens, UK



The police get little or no respect for enforcing the laws as they stand at the moment. What impact will this have?

Jayson, UK
We're not robots and it's unreasonable to expect people to hold to a firm speed limit. Individuals should use their own discretion for determining a safe speed, using the posted limits as a guide. They should only be pulled over if they are being flagrantly reckless in their driving. Busting someone for a mere 5 over the limit is excessively strict.
C M Sanyk, USA

Our traffic problems are caused by two major problems. Firstly, the lack of transport infrastructure makes it necessary for more motorists to be on the road. This increases congestion which forces motorists to drive through residential areas at speed, putting our children at risk. Secondly, we seem to think that the law will be a cure-all for a problem that could be prevented by investing in more traffic pacification schemes.
Mark, Germany

Most drivers seem to regard speed limits as a target speed, not a maximum speed. Speed limits are put there to protect the rest of us from motor vehicles, and do not work unless strictly enforced. After all, speeding cars kill many more people than murderers do.
JS, UK

The police get little or no respect for enforcing the laws as they stand at the moment. What impact will this have?
Jayson, UK

If the safety campaigners want a nation of drivers staring at their speedometers with men, women and children bouncing off their bonnets then so be it.
Graham Eveleigh, England



Speeding in built-up areas is stupid, selfish and contemptible. However, if children are allowed to venture unsupervised into roads, they are going to get hurt

Malcolm Cupis, England
I think they should reassess all the 30mph zones in the UK and change them all to either 25 or 35 mph as in most parts of the USA. By setting realistic speed limits, people would be more likely to try and bend the rules.
Duncan Steel, UK

I feel that the number of road deaths would be drastically reduced if more emphasis was placed on teaching children how to cross the road rather than hounding drivers. Watching Saturday morning TV with my two children, I see thousands of adverts for meaningless products, but no road safety messages like those which were around when I was younger.
D Stewart, UK

Has anyone tried staying at the correct speed limit? I am currently learning to drive and as I am very speed conscience it is so difficult to keep to it. I feel it is necessary to have a buffer of 5mph. Besides don't motorists have right of way anyway on the roads? People should stop, look and listen before crossing.
Dean Longley, UK

Speeding in built-up areas is stupid, selfish and contemptible. However, if children are allowed to venture unsupervised into roads, they are going to get hurt. Whatever happened to parental responsibility?
Malcolm Cupis, England

When are people going to wake up and realise that it isn't speed that kills in most cases. The real killer is the system which allows people with next to no training to go out in a car and turn it into a lethal weapon. Stop wasting money on squabbling about whether people who do 31 in a 30 mph zone should lose their license and start looking at ways to improve driver education in this country. Maybe then the roads can become safer for all of us.
Christine L, England



Whatever happened to the Green Cross Code Man and cycling proficiency? It's not only car drivers who sometimes behave dangerously

Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK
Perhaps if the safety campaigners were to push for zero tolerance of jaywalking, cycling without lights or cycling on pavements, then they would be more deserving of a hearing. Also, what about pedestrian and cyclist education? Whatever happened to the Green Cross Code Man and cycling proficiency? It's not only car drivers who sometimes behave dangerously.
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK

Yes, the police are right to allow a 5mph "buffer". The "buffer" should remain because speedometers are very inaccurate, and even if a motorist thinks they are doing 30mph, they could in fact be doing up to 35mph.
Craig Grannell, UK

It isn't speeding that kills. It is people's inability to drive at the speed they are going. Someone doing 15-20mph who skids and drives into a group of kids will still kill. The police are doing the right thing. There should be a 15mph speed limit outside schools, but taking drivers to court for a 5mph break in the limit is ludicrous. Transport 2000 are, unfortunately, part of a growing number of people who want to control our lives using "the health of our children" as an excuse to bring in a police state. To them I say, get a life.
Vishal Vashisht, UK

I agree with Rod. There does need to be a safe buffer so maybe a reduction to 25mph would be good. However speed limits should also be realistic. Quite a few times recently, I have been driving on the M25 at night and the speed limits are set to 40mph when there is not another car on the road and no other obvious reason. People are then being charged with speeding. This is ridiculous and apparently a good/ easy way for the police to meet their targets!
Sophie, England

If Transport 2000 wants a 30 mph limit enforced, this effectively means driving at a speed of 25 mph to have "nothing to worry about". There is a reasonable case for reducing the speed limit to 25 mph in some areas, so why don't Transport 2000 make that case rather than having a go at the police?
Rod Maxwell, Scotland

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25 May 00 | UK
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