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Coronavirus: Speed awareness courses postponed for 12 weeks

Speed awareness courses cancelled amid coronavirus crisis

Speed awareness courses have been postponed amid coronavirus fears. This follows news of the suspension of driving and theory tests that we first reported last week. 

The UK Road Offender Education (UKROEd), which operates the speed awareness courses on behalf of the police, has suspended all classroom based courses for an initial period of 12 weeks, from 9am on Friday 20 March 2020.

In a statement, UKROEd said: “This is the right thing to do to help protect individual’s health and reduce the risk associated with a wider spread of the virus.”

It also said that it will work with police forces and course providers to “establish options to deal with drivers who have already been offered a course”.

The National Speed Awareness Course provides eligible offending drivers with a short course of training as an alternative to punishment for low-level speeding offences. Although a speed awareness costs around £100, you don’t have to pay the standard Fixed Penalty Notice and you won’t receive any points on your licence.

speed awareness courses cancelled

Anyone who is booked on a speed awareness course will be contacted by the police force or the course provider. UKROEd said that this is a “massive undertaking” and has asked drivers to remain patient while the relevant bodies “work through everything”.

Norfolk Road Safety has contacted everyone booked on a course. In an email, it said: We are contacting you to advise you that your NDORS (National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme) course has been cancelled. Unfortunately, due to the current situation with coronavirus, all courses for speed awareness… have been suspended for 12 weeks.

“We are working hard with police forces during this time and would ask that you please bear with us until we have further information regarding future bookings.”

In a statement on its website, Dorset Police has said: “With immediate effect all Dorset Police Driver Awareness Courses will not be postponed until further notice.”

Speed awareness course cancellation: will you get points?

smart motorway speed cameras one minute grace period

You have four months from the date on your letter to complete the course you’re eligible for. Obviously the 12-week period stated in the message we’ve seen equates to three months. That’s a substantial chunk of the leeway time.

We can’t say for certain what cancellations of speed awareness courses mean at this point, in terms of points on your driving licence. Although they shouldn’t translate into an automatic addition of points, it’s worth contacting the course provider and local constabulary that issued your penalty.

The message goes on to give the option of a full refund for the course, which you can request via email. However, if you do so, your details will be ‘passed back to the police’. 

Confirmed: Glasgow to get 20mph speed limit

20mph limit Glasgow

New plans agreed by councils will see a 20mph speed limit implemented across the majority of roads in Glasgow. Residential streets, the city centre and other main shopping areas will be the primary focus for the limit.

The goal is to improve safety in pedestrian and cycling hotspots, reduce noise and cut congestion.

It will also help towards Glasgow’s goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. A similar measure was recently approved in Essex, with a 70mph limit being dropped to 50mph to cut pollution.

20mph limit Glasgow

Research cited by councillor Anna Richardson, city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, has found that 20mph limits result in a 31 percent reduction of incidents.

“It’s well known that lower speeds reduce the risk of accidents, but also reduce the severity of any injuries suffered by those involved,” she followed.

“Safer roads will make walking and cycling a much more attractive option for getting around the city. Many cities across the country are introducing a widespread 20mph limit and the evidence that’s being gathered shows that the impact on journey times for cars and buses has been minimal.”

20mph limit Glasgow

Streets that don’t get the 20mph limit will retain a 30mph maximum. The plan is now going through the statutory traffic regulation process and should be fully implemented after four years.

Currently, around 179 miles of Glasgow’s streets are limited to 20mph. Under the new plan, that could jump to over 870 miles, as residential streets are added wholesale to the tally.

The expansion of the new limit is expected to cost around £4.35 million. After a recent relaxation of the rules on traffic calming, that’s significantly reduced from the initial forecast of around £25 million.

 

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.”

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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”.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Speed awareness course tomorrow, first one ever and for 52 in a 50 on the M6 at 3am in the truck lane 😂👍🏼 Nothing will get me down though, as it’s finally starting to feel like Christmas!

A post shared by Oliver Webb (@oliverjameswebb) on

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 force Speeding tickets (2018)
1. Avon and Somerset 163,784
2. West Mercia 90,203
3. Hampshire 73,220
4. Northumbria 68,552
5. Kent 64,179
6. West Yorkshire 61,623
7. West Midlands 57,394
8. Warwickshire 53,894
9. Humberside 53,628
10. Cheshire 53,000

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…