/ Motoring

Most people admit to breaking speed limits…

Car driving fast

According to car insurer Admiral’s survey, almost four in five motorists admit to driving over the speed limit. And thirty-somethings, who really should know better, are the worst offenders.

In Admiral’s survey of 3,614 motorists, 81% of people aged 30-39 admitted driving above the speed limit, making them speedier than 18-24 year olds and the over-70s – 72% of both groups admitted to breaking speed limits.

That’s a slightly different story to the exorbitant car insurance premiums offered to the youngest and oldest drivers…

Perhaps this survey highlights the need for ongoing training for drivers, as 31% of survey respondents thought they’d fail their L-test if they took it again.

My colleagues at Which? Car will definitely sympathise, only two out of five of our researchers passed their test when they re-took it back in 2009. So maybe mandatory refresher courses every five or 10 years would help?

Are Britain’s speed limits right?

To me the survey also suggests that many of our speed limits are woefully out of date. While I’d never advocate increasing the 30mph limit on urban and residential streets, the swathes of dual carriageways with 40mph limits and miles of motorways with a 70mph limit both feel behind the times. In Admiral’s survey, 55% of drivers thought the motorway speed limit should be 80mph, while 14% wanted the limit to be even higher than that.

When I’m driving at 70mph on the motorway, I found it extremely frightening and dangerous as faster vehicles frequently make hair-raising manoeuvres to get past me.

I’m not saying that the motorway limit should be increased to 80mph just because everyone else is doing it – I really do think that in good road conditions it’s a safe and sensible speed for modern cars to travel at. I personally think the motorway limit should be 80mph, on the proviso that the police then enforce this limit rigorously so people no longer ignore the legal limit.

So, with the majority of people admitting to breaking the speed limit, do you think current limits should be changed?

Do you think current speed limits are out of date?

Yes - speed limits need to be updated (60%, 679 Votes)

Maybe - it depends on the particular speed limit (24%, 274 Votes)

No - speed limits should stay as they are (16%, 181 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,137

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ARWits says:
9 September 2012

1. The motorway speed limit should be an ENFORCED 80 mph.
2. Local 20/30 mph limits should be ENFORCED.
Parents delivering their progeny to school by driving through residential areas, like Lewis Hamilton in Grand Prix, should be prosecuted for speed limit infringement, i.e. 20/30 mph.


How on earth is Lewis Hamilton relevant to this thread? To the best of my knowledge he lives in Monaco, not the UK, and prior to that lived in Switzerland. By all means criticise him for his unwillingness to pay UK taxes – I’ll be the first in line to support you.

ALL laws should be enforced. Sadly, the cost of manning our police services at suitable levels would be an unreasonable burden on the public purse. A decent compromise is to allow the police to use “reasonable discretion”. But we don’t seem to have the balance right at present.

Old Cynic says:
9 September 2012

Just how many Police do you think there are to “rigorously enforce” new speed limits – the reality is very few and reducing under government cuts. Enough people are killed on motorways with the 70mph limit so why raise it to 80mph. Cars may be advancing in safety but the human brain behind the wheel is still in the dark ages. Are we also saying that the price of fuel is far too low at the moment ? That seems to be your message, why travel faster and burn more otherwise. If the motorway speed limit was reduced to 60mph there would be a huge reduction in fuel consumption and green house gasses otherwise here’s to an ice free arctic.

Peter S says:
10 September 2012

This just goes back to the start of the Which? “conversation” – with the risk of recycling all the points already made:
1. If there is a scarcity of enforcement resource then all the more reason to concentrate this on cases where it really matters, rather than fritter away resources trying to prosecute motorists exceeding 70 mph in safe conditions.
2. Arguably 80 – 90 mph in given (not all) circumstances in today’s car and motorway conditions is as safe as 70 mph was when it was first introduced.
3. There is a risk of getting “safety” confused with “fuel conservation”. If fuel economy is the main issue then, as previously stated, start off rationally by banning all 4 x 4’s, Range Rovers and the like. Then, why reduce to just 60 mph, would there not be an even greater saving from 50 mph? Or 40 … What is the rationale, if any, supporting 70?

– If safety is the prime focus then similar questions apply: Why not bring back the men walking in front bearing red flags? 70 in some situations can be a lot more dangerous than 80 – 90 in others.

Like it or not, practical realities mean coming to terms with / arriving at a trade-off between competing priorities. Much of the tenor of this “blog” would seem to be at odds with opinions that can be deduced from the statistics from the Admiral survey quoted in the headlines of this page.


I live in France where the speed limit on motorways is 80mph (130kph) in the dry and 68mph (110kph) in the wet.

Interestingly, quite a number of drivers sit at 68mph. I believe this is to save fuel but, at least, they have the option of going faster if they wish.

I’m at a loss to understand why the UK doesn’t follow suit.

Stuart MacPherson says:
20 September 2012

… le bon sens on the other side of the water!


I believe that speed limits on motorways were reduced to 60 mph to save fuel during the fuel crisis in the 1970’s. if my memory is correct, motorway speed limits were later increased to 70 but duel carriageways remained at 60 for some time until subsequently being increased to the same speed as motorways. I think 70 mph is completely out of date for most of todays motorways and vehicles and feel this could be increased during dry conditions to 90 mph with a 10% leeway. So absolute enforcement at 100 mph!. Duel carriageways should remain at 70 but the limits on all other roads be reduced from 60 to 50mph. Since returning from a long residence overseas I have been horrified at the speeds being driven on country roads with no allowance for farm vehicles or any other vehicle easing out on to the road.
There should be absolutely no parking allowed within a minimum of 440 yards outside schools between 8 and 9 am and 3 and 4.30 pm (Mums could and should walk from there) with a strictly enforced maximum speed limit of 20 mph within that zone during those times.


We still have a bit of a fuel crisis and the faster we use up the reserves of oil the faster fuel prices will rise. Driving at higher speeds wastes a lot of fuel.