/ 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To me the survey also suggests that many of our speed limits are woefully out of date.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Do you think current speed limits are out of date?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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Graeme says:
16 November 2012

40/30/20 limits in build-up areas should be rigorously enforced (safety, noise pollution etc). Weather-dependent limits on M roads and dual carridgeways seems sensible, with maybe 80 mph as an upper limit. Enforcing speed limits should be technologically easy. Fit GPS trackers to every car with a speed limit ‘road map’ installed. If limit is exceeded the data are transmitted to the relevent law enforcement.

Average fuel saving would be best improved by fitting all cars with a fuel rate limiter giving an average of 50 mpg or better, plenty enough for an efficient 5-seater (600 kg load). Unfortunately, oil will not run out. What will happen is climate temperature will increase with well-predicted consequences and Humans will probably be one of the species to survive the effects!


You must be stupid, or unaware of the consequences of what you are suggesting.

Technologically it is all possible, I know as I work in the industry, but I definitely would not want my every move tracked by who knows who!

I have been in situations where the need to exceed the limit in force allowed me to avoid an accident, your solution would mean that an accident would have been inevitable.

One thing, just how would you enforce the ‘fuel rate limitation’ on foreign owned vehicles arriving via the shuttle or ferry? Especially the goods vehicles?

Graeme says:
16 November 2012

😉 It’s all about what we want (rather than need)!

The GPS tracker would give distance travelled. This could release a fuel quota, relaxed if the fuel has a low absolute climate impact to allow less efficient ‘leisure’ vehicles. Make it a global system, after all CO2 knows no national boundary.


Sounds a bit too “Big-Brother-ish” for me.

But if we were going to go down that route, why not just let the GPS control the maximum speed of the car for each stretch of road?


I suggested controlling the maximum speed of cars on one of the Conversations, gradivus. Someone told me I was talking nonsense and that they needed to be able to exceed the speed limit to avoid accidents. I can’t say I’ve ever had this problem.

Graeme says:
17 November 2012

… but no more “Big-Brother-ish” than if you carry a cell phone, which many folk do willingly. We improve many other systems with monitoring and control mechanisms, why not road transport? David’s point of manual override would be vital, but all the technology to prevent inappropriate speed (and to prevent fuel wastage) exists. After all we submit ourselves to this when we fly (apart from the fuel wastage).


@wavechange – I think the person that told you it was nonsense was me!


Yes David. I’ve had a look and it was this Conversation, page 1. If I’m not mistaken it is the first time we have agreed about anything. 🙂


Graeme. Very true, but I can switch my mobile phone off whenever I want. The European Galileo GPS system is just around the corner which is expected to have a (theoretical) accuracy of about one metre [For comparison, the current US GPS system has a theoretical accuracy of about 15 metres.] I don’t want to hijack this conversation onto Civil Liberties, but I do think ‘compulsory GPS’ as you suggest is a step too far.

Wavechange. My tongue was in my cheek when I wrote that. However, after 40+ years of, relatively high mileage, driving (with a definite penchant for fast cars!) I can think of one, and only one, situation where