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A nation of speeders: Government study reveals that hardly any drivers obey 20mph speed limits

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 07/11/2018 Rob Hull For Thisismoney.co.uk
A 20mph speed limit signpost and local shops on Lordship Lane, in East Dulwich, on 15th March 2017, London borough of Southwark, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images) © Richard Baker A 20mph speed limit signpost and local shops on Lordship Lane, in East Dulwich, on 15th March 2017, London borough of Southwark, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)

New statistics revealed by the Department for Transport (DfT) have laid bare the nation's speeding epidemic.

The government department observed some 446.6 million journeys being driven at 74 sites across the country last year and found that 46 per cent exceeded the maximum speed limit on the roads monitored.

Worryingly, the percentage of motorists breaking limits increases in lower speed restrictions. In fact, 86 per cent of journeys through 20mph zones - which are predominantly outside schools - were clocked over the designated limit.

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The DfT's highest speeds spotted on public roads were - as you might expect - recorded on motorways.

Of the 34.3 million journeys observed on the UK's fastest routes in 2017, 48 per cent were recorded at speeds exceeding the 70mph limit.

Some 11 per cent were recorded over 80mph, while one per cent were clocked at over 90mph. 

a car parked on a city street: Speed addiction: Some 86% of journeys monitored in 20mph zones last year were recorded over the speed limit, DfT stats show © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Speed addiction: Some 86% of journeys monitored in 20mph zones last year were recorded over the speed limit, DfT stats show The analysis also found that over a third (34 per cent) of the drivers failed to maintain a two-second gap between them and the car in front, while two in five (40 per cent) of motorcyclists were also guilty of tailgating on motorways.

But it's in the slower speed zones where drivers are far more likely to exceed limits.

More than half (52 per cent) of journeys witnessed in 30mph zones were being driven faster than the maximum limit, despite these restrictions being in place across residential areas.

General view of a 20mph speed limit sign in Morden, south west London. Wide-ranging proposals to dramatically cut the number of deaths on the roads were set out by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick today as he also confirmed a major overhaul of the driver training and testing process.   (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images) © PA Images General view of a 20mph speed limit sign in Morden, south west London. Wide-ranging proposals to dramatically cut the number of deaths on the roads were set out by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick today as he also confirmed a major overhaul of the driver training and testing process. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

Speeding was even more prevalent in 20mph zones (86 per cent of the journeys observed), though most were marginally going faster than the law dictated.

Around two thirds of over-time-limit journeys recorded in 20mph zones were motorists travelling at 25mph or less, the DfT data showed.

The figures also found that motorists are more willing to break the law in the early hours of the morning, with 94 per cent of journeys in 20mph zones conducted in the small hours being over the limit.

And it wasn't just car drivers who flouted the law.

a car parked on the side of a building: Incredibly, some 94% of journeys recorded in 20mph limits in the early hours of the morning were at law-breaking speeds © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Incredibly, some 94% of journeys recorded in 20mph limits in the early hours of the morning were at law-breaking speeds

Some 77 per cent of ‘long’ bus drivers and 53 per cent of ‘short’ bus drivers were also witnessed exceeding 20mph limits, as did 75 per cent of HGVs, 84 per cent of vans and 85 per cent of motorcyclists.

It appears that 60mph zones is where motorists are most cautious, with just nine per cent of journeys recorded as over the limit during surveillance.

And it wasn't just those exceeding limits that were recorded.

Many drivers were clocked travelling significantly slower than the maximum limit, which can be equally as hazardous on fast-moving roads.

This included 13.7 million cases of drivers recorded driving at 50mph or less on motorways, all of which were observed when the traffic was moving freely. 

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