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Essex council slashes speed limit to reduce emissions

A127 speed limit cut

The A127 to the north of Basildon in Essex will have its speed limit reduced from 70mph to 50mph in a bid to reduce nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions from traffic. Essex Highways and Basildon Council say that, as a result, ambient air quality and NOx levels should reach safe levels by 2021. 

The move comes after the local authorities were issued a ministerial directive by the government to improve air quality on the section of road as quickly as possible.

It’s claimed that at 50mph, NOx emissions from a car’s engine are reduced by up to 20 percent, compared with at 70mph. The majority of engines are most efficient at around 50mph, too.

A127 speed limit: what you need to knowA127 speed limit cut

Work starts on 27 January to begin implementing the limit, with signs and average speed cameras being installed. It will be on both carriageways between the Fortune of War roundabout and around 470m east of the Pound Lane (west) and Cranfield Park Road (east) junctions. 

The A127 has been identified as a problem area for emissions, but it’s not just higher speed that’s the issue. The new limit is also predicted to reduce congestion, keeping the movement of cars smooth and steady.

A127 speed limit cut

“Engines work most efficiently at around 50mph; vehicles driving below 50mph and above 55mph produce more emissions from their exhausts,” says the Essex Highways website.

“While traffic is often slower than 50mph at peak times, having a consistently lower speed limit helps to improve journey time reliability by smoothing the traffic flow, because it reduces the number of times vehicles have to stop and start again.

“This in turn reduces the time traffic is stationary or moving slowly in queues, and has an air quality benefit as vehicles’ engines emit the most NOx emissions when they are switched on but not moving, or moving slowly.”

These are the UK’s worst speeding hotspots

Hotspots for speeding in the UK

New research reveals which UK regions have the highest number of speeding fines. Greater Manchester tops the table, with 123,103 speeding offences in 2018-2019. That’s a jump of three percent on the year before.

Government figures show 52 percent of drivers admit to speeding on 30mph roads. Meanwhile, 46 percent say they breach the limit on motorways.

Hotspots for speeding in the UK

Following Greater Manchester are London and Surrey. A total of 121,483 speeding offences were recorded by London’s Metropolitan Police in the same period, which is down eight percent on the previous year. Surrey Police racked up 90,018 tickets. The West Midlands and West Yorkshire complete the top five, with 66,658 and 61,623 respectively.

The research concluded that drivers were less likely to comply with speed limits on lower-limit roads.

“Exceeding the speed limit is always dangerous, but at this time of year when weather conditions are treacherous and there are more vehicles on the road, it’s even more important to stick to the limits,” said a spokesperson from Car Parts 4 Less, which pulled together the data.

Hotspots for speeding in the UK

The bottom five areas for speeding offences are quite a contrast, with just 4,961 for Durham. Gwent is second-lowest, with 8,050 offences recorded. Suffolk gets into five figures, with 11,975, and Leicestershire isn’t far ahead on 12,076. Sussex rounds out the lowest five, with 14,433 offences.

Accidents from driving too SLOWLY are increasing

Slow driving causing more accidents

The Department for Transport (DfT) says the number of road deaths in the UK directly related to slow driving is on the up.

According to DfT figures, 26 people were seriously injured and two were killed in 2019, in incidents where slow driving was a contributing factor. And 132 more sustained less severe injuries in slow driving incidents.

Slow driving itself is rarely the direct cause of incidents or injuries. However, there are behaviours associated with it that are dangerous. Over-ambitious overtakes, undertaking on the motorway, tailbacks and road rage can all be directly related to slow driving. Those who incorrectly merge on motorways, coming to a stop on slip roads, for example, find themselves facing cars passing by at 70mph.

Motorway speed limit 80

Although punishments are normally associated with excessive speed, you can face a fine and points for driving too slowly. In the UK, the punishment is similar to low-level speeding: three points and a £100 fine. Whether a speed awareness course is an option for motorists caught driving too slowly is unclear.

Minimum speed limits are a rarity in the UK, though some high-risk areas do have them, where it’s important to avoid tailbacks. Some tunnels will have a minimum and maximum speed limit. Mersey Tunnel, for instance, has signs to tell drivers the minimum speed limit. The only difference is the number will have a red line through it.

Minimum speed limits are more common in certain parts of Europe.

Drivers mistakenly fined for speeding

“I’m not in the least bit surprised by these worrying statistics,” said Hugh Bladon, a founding member of the Alliance of British Drivers.

“I have advocated for a long time that driving too slowly causes frustration for other people and can cause them to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre, which is the most dangerous thing you can do on the roads.”

Professional racing driver sent on speed awareness course

Ollie Webb racing driver speed awareness course

Professional racing driver Ollie Webb, who has previously driven cars on closed circuits at more than 250 miles per hour, has been sent on a speed awareness course.

The Le Mans racer was caught speeding, doing 52 miles per hour in a 50 zone in the middle of the night.

In a post on Instagram, he gave details on the circumstances of his speeding faux pas. “Speed awareness course tomorrow, first one ever and for 52 in a 50 on the M6 at 3am in the truck lane.”

Not to have his festive spirits dampened, he added “nothing will get me down though, as it’s finally starting to feel like Christmas”.

In another previous post, he noted how impressed he was with French hypercar maker Bugatti’s 300 mph record earlier this year, and reminisced about his escapades at 250 mph and beyond.

There is an irony, then, that he should be pulled up for going just 2 mph over the limit. While no speeding offence is necessarily tolerable, ordinarily, there is room for manoeuvre.

Ten percent plus 2 mph is generally the accepted range for discrepancy, meaning you should technically be able to “get away” with 57 mph in a 50 mph zone. 

One commenter on his Instagram post shared exacerbation about the strictness of the situation, saying “the world has gone mad. 2 mph over the limit! Where’s the common sense,” to which Webb responded, “exactly”.

Ollie Webb racing driver speed awareness course

Still, there is humour in the darkest of times. Commenters on his Instagram post haven’t wasted any time in having a laugh about it. 

The old “who do you think you are, Stirling Moss!?” advert springs to mind.

Ollie has had a varied career in racing, starting with karting, moving through lower-level formula racing, hill climbs and into GT racing. He’s a European Le Mans Series Champion, and a Dubai 24-hour winner. He’s also spent time in the LMP1 hot seat at Le Mans.

Revealed: Where you’re most likely to be caught speeding

Where you're most likely to be caught speeding

There’s only one guaranteed way to avoid getting caught speeding: don’t speed. But if you do break the law, it pays to know where you’re most likely to get caught.

New research reveals Britain’s speeding hotspots, providing an insight into the regions where you’re likely to be issued a ticket.

Freedom of Information requests were sent to the constabularies of the most populated towns and cities around the UK. The aim: to discover how many fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued for speeding in 2018.

Although not every police force responded to Dick Lovett’s request, one constabulary stands head and shoulders above the others.

Nearly 165,000 speeding tickets were issued by Avon and Somerset Police, making it the region in which you’re most likely to be caught speeding.

Avon and Somerset Police

Next up is West Mercia (90,203 tickets), followed by Hampshire (73,220) and Northumbria (68,552).

Interestingly, Avon and Somerset also takes the honour of seeing the highest recorded speed during the same period. A driver was clocked doing 162mph.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, just 135 FPNs were issued in Gwent, followed by Bedfordshire (254), Wiltshire (657) and Cambridgeshire (687).

This doesn’t necessarily mean that drivers in these areas are law-abiding citizens. There are a number of factors at play, including the fact that Gwent has fewer speed cameras and motorways.

If you’re caught speeding

Speeding crackdown UK

The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three penalty points added to your licence.

You could be disqualified from driving if you build up 12 or more penalty points within a period of 36 months.

If you get a FPN, you can choose to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you’ll have to pay a £100 fine and have three points added to your licence, unless you’re given the option to attend a speed awareness course.

If you plead not guilty, you’ll have to go to court. If you’re found guilty by the court, the amount you’re fined depends on what the speed limit was and how much over it you were driving.

It’s usually a percentage of your weekly income, up to a maximum of £1,000, or £2,500 if you were driving on a motorway.

For more information on speeding fines, including what happens if you’re caught speeding by a camera, visit the government website.

Britain’s speeding hotspots

Constabulary/police forceSpeeding tickets (2018)
1. Avon and Somerset163,784
2. West Mercia90,203
3. Hampshire73,220
4. Northumbria68,552
5. Kent64,179
6. West Yorkshire61,623
7. West Midlands57,394
8. Warwickshire53,894
9. Humberside53,628
10. Cheshire53,000

Click here for more information on the Dick Lovett research, including mobile phone penalty hotspots and where drivers are caught without insurance.

German parliament REJECTS autobahn speed limit proposal

Autobahn speed limit rejected Germany

Politicians in Germany have voted against the introduction of a 80mph (130kph) speed limit on ‘autobahn’ high-speed motorway roads.  

The German autobahn network is famous for having sections that are derestricted. The Green party had requested that a limit be considered for these unlimited sections of autobahn, arguing it would improve safety and help to curb emissions.

“Anyone who wants to make motorways safer and traffic flow more smoothly must introduce a speed limit,” said Green parliamentary party leader Anton Hofreiter, prior to the vote.

Autobahn unlimited

Autobahn speed limit rejected Germany

The idea didn’t fly, however. When put to the vote at Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, the tally was 498 against, with just 126 for.

The ranks of those who voted against it were varied politically, too. Far right and conservative parties joined members from the centre-left Social Democrats in the vote against.

The vote reflects the ruling CSU party’s stance as outlined when the idea was floated back in January 2019. German Transport Minister, Andreas Scheuer, said the proposal was “against all common sense”.

A draft paper which included the introduction of autobahn speed limits, proposed the scrappage of tax breaks for diesel cars fuel tax rises from 2023. These, as solutions to Germany’s transport emissions issue.

Autobahn speed limit rejected Germany

In response to the vote, Green party member and chair of the Committee on Transport, Cem Özdemir, said “you’re defending a transport policy from the day before yesterday”.

He didn’t expect the autobahn limit to go through, however, and has hope for the future. “As is so often the case with green proposals, we present them, and eventually there’ll be a majority behind them,” he told a German broadcaster. 

Around 30 percent of the German autobahns actually already have speed limits. In an earlier discussion on general speed limits in January, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said there are “more intelligent options to control the speed than a general speed limit”.

80mph speed limit ‘fundamentally an issue of safety’, says RAC

Motorway speed limit 80

Government transport secretary Grant Shapps suggested at the recent Conservative party conference that a rise in the motorway speed limit to 80mph could happen, as more people switch to electric cars. The previous speed limit review concluded that an increase would be inappropriate due to concerns about emissions.

However, the RAC says a higher limit could prove dangerous for motorists who already take liberties.

Here’s what Grant Shapps had to say:

“On 80mph speed limits, I’ve been thinking about this issue and maybe even sought advice on the subject of late. I think there is an argument for looking at our speed limits, both in terms of higher speed limits and actually lower limits – 20mph outside of schools. When it was last looked at in 2011, reviewing the last submission to ministers on the subject, it was thought the carbon emission addition would be too great.

“But since I am a driver of an electric car myself I got to thinking about whether that would still be the case. I think there is an argument that once you have increased the level of electrification and therefore decreased or entirely removed carbon, that you might look at those things again.”

RAC: 80mph limit is ‘an issue of safety’

Motorway speed limit 80

The RAC acknowledges that a speed limit increase could incentivise a large-scale move to electric cars, thereby reducing emissions. But RAC head of policy, Nicholas Lyes, raised concerns about safety:

“Any move to raise speed limits on motorways to 80mph is fundamentally an issue of safety. Part of the problem is that at present, there is a high proportion of drivers that break the 70mph limit, and drive nearer to 80mph. If the speed limit were to be changed to 80mph, there is a risk that the new default becomes even higher.

“Our motorways are currently the safest roads on the entire network, and we wouldn’t want to see anything happen that changes this. So unless there is compelling evidence that a change in the limit on some stretches of road would not adversely affect safety, the current limit should be retained.”

Our case for a safe 80mph limit

Motorway speed limit 80

What it hasn’t considered, is whether less lenience at the higher end could keep people legal. Could the ‘10 percent plus two’ rule be pinned back in the case of the overall limit, to keep people closer to 80mph?

We also now drive on motorways that have constantly-changing speed limits based on prevailing conditions. Could an 80mph limit be the special preserve of motorways operating at or below a certain percentage of their capacity? Could it restricted to certain hours of the day and/or weather? These are all ideas that could be explored.

Conversely, we can’t help but wonder about whether there really would be no emissions penalty. It would definitely use more electricity – whether produced emissions-free or otherwise.

There’s also the question of infrastructure. Would the extra power needed for a 10mph increase be appropriate at a time when infrastructure is playing catch-up? It’s all food for thought.

The speeding loophole that could help you avoid a fine

The speeding loophole that could get you out of a ticket

Getting a speeding ticket can ruin your day, but you may be able to appeal. This depends on whether police have adhered to the rules in sending you the ticket.

If you’re caught speeding, a letter has to be sent that should arrive at your home within 14 days of the incident. If the date of the incident and the subsequent date the letter was sent don’t allow for that 14-day window, the ticket may not be enforceable.

It’s a rule that keeps the admin work of the police force tight. Yet it can also lead to speeders catching a lucky break.

The speeding loophole that could get you out of a ticket

To be clear, the date of the incident and the date the letter was sent must be within a decent likelihood of allowing the 14-day deadline. If the letter does arrive later than that, but should have come earlier due to delays in the post, it’s still enforceable. If it arrives four weeks after the incident, having been sent a week ago, clearly it isn’t enforceable.

“All the police need to do is show the ticket should have reached the vehicle’s registered owner under normal circumstances within 14 days,” says The Money Advice Service, which highlighted the rule.

“This means the letter could go to an old address if you’ve not updated your licence, it could go to a hire company or to your work address if the vehicle isn’t yours.”

Drivers mistakenly fined for speeding

Problems with the postal service, therefore, or the letter going to another address before it gets to you, won’t find you favour in court. If it was sent in a timely manner, it still stands.

Clearly, it goes without saying that the best way to avoid speeding tickets is not to speed…

UK motorists’ speeding habits revealed

UK drivers' speeding habits revealed

New research has revealed some intriguing details on the speeding habits of UK motorists, including when they’re most likely to speed.

Data obtained from the Department for Transport (DfT) revealed that Sunday is the most popular day for speeding, with motorists mostly likely to break limits in the early hours of the morning. That goes for every day of the week, with 63 percent doing so between 4am and 5am.

Overall, 53 percent test their speedo on Sundays, 51 percent do the same on Saturday. Monday, Tuesday and Friday follow, with 47 percent. Thursday and last-place Wednesday appear to be the most sensible days of the week, with 46 percent of drivers speeding mid-week.

UK drivers' speeding habits revealed

MoneySuperMarket, which obtained the data from DfT, also looked at insurance enquiry data for some insights. It found that just eight percent of drivers declare speeding convictions when enquiring about insurance.

Why? Well, they could be avoiding higher premiums, which are £72 more expensive on average with a conviction.

Why do we speed?

As for why we speed, most drivers plead ignorance, with 42 percent saying they weren’t paying attention to their speed. Four-in-ten use what you’d imagine is the most common excuse: they’re running late. Speeding is, for 17 percent of us, habitual.

UK drivers' speeding habits revealed

“Our findings suggest that drivers are looking to take advantage of emptier roads on weekends and in the early hours,” said Rachel Wait, consumer affairs spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket.

“But it is important to remember that there are still major safety rules to abide by, no matter what time it is.

“If you are caught speeding and want to keep your insurance costs down, it’s worth seeing whether you can take part in a speed awareness course, which means you won’t get points on your licence and provides a helpful reminder about speeding limits and the importance of driving safely.”

Nearly 100 drivers fined by MISTAKE in false 20mph limit

Drivers mistakenly fined for speeding

Almost 100 drivers have been mistakenly fined because of an incorrectly-displayed 20mph speed limit on a motorway. 

What’s more, despite Highways England admitting that the limit was incorrect, the fines will reportedly still stand.

The incident occurred almost two years ago, following a crash between a horsebox and two cars. Five people lost their lives in the incident.

However, the 20mph speed limit remained in place hours after it needed to be. Once diversion measures had been implemented, it could have risen to 40mph or 50mph, say experts. 

It is believed the 20mph limit was displayed for up for 14 hours.

A lorry driver named Gary Richards was among the 439 drivers caught by a camera, and one of the 97 who were prosecuted. He said he “could not believe it” when he saw the limit. “I have driven all over Europe and have never seen a 20mph limit on a motorway.”

Drivers mistakenly fined for speeding

As a result of getting caught, he received his first speeding ticket, four points, a fine for £350, and over £1,000 in associated costs. 

“I maintain that I am not guilty because the restriction should not have been in place at all,” he protested.

“If the limit had been set properly I would haven’t been dragged to court and I wouldn’t have four points on my licence.”

Britain's worst drivers revealed

Jonathan Wigmore was assigned to a complaint filed by Mr Richards as an independent assessor. He found that the incident presented a steep learning curve for dealing with similar incidents. 

Confusion arose because some operators at the time believed that the 20mph limit should indeed stay up, even after diversion measures were completed and workers were safely out of the road.  

Overall, however, he concluded that Highways England should issue a public apology. 

Despite this, there are no plans to compensate the drivers, which Mr Richards describes as a “miscarriage of justice”. He’s since rejected a £50 goodwill gesture and a personal apology.

If a driver believes that a speed limit has been set incorrectly, it is quick and easy to report it to us and we promise that every case is investigated,” said a Highways England spokesperson.

Drivers mistakenly fined for speeding

“However, we are also clear that drivers must drive within the signed speed limit.”

Basically, if a limit is there, even if you don’t believe it, it’s there to be followed until it’s taken down, if it needs to be.

If you’re concerned about a limit being wrong, follow it regardless, then contact Highways England to be sure that it’s correct and if not, amended.