RAC questions plans to penalise 1mph-over speed offences

RAC questions plans to penalise 1mph-over speed offences
A potential police crackdown on motorists who drive as little as 1mph over the speed limit has been over-stated by the media but nevertheless came as a surprise to many.

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham of West Mercia Police reportedly called for an end to the 10% buffer and said any motorists caught breaking the speed limit by even 1mph should be held accountable.

Speaking at the National Police Chiefs' Council Lead on road policing he said: “They should not come whinging to us about getting caught. If booked at 35 or 34 or 33 (in a 30mph zone) that cannot be unfair because they are breaking the law."

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But the comments have been challenged by fellow police chiefs and RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams, who said it would appear “harsh to penalise law-abiding motorists who may occasionally go very slightly above the limit.

Mr Williams added: “It doesn’t seem sensible to penalise drivers for breaking the speed limit slightly as it could have the effect of making drivers paranoid and constantly checking speedometers when their focus should be on the road.

“While speed is clearly a contributory factor in many road accidents and there is no question that drivers should obey the speed limit, it doesn't seem sensible to make motorists constantly look at their speedometers for fear of drifting a few miles an hour above the limit,” he added.

Typically, forces are able to use their judgement and operate within a leeway of 10% plus 2mph over the speed limit. This allows for any inaccuracies that may occur because of camera and speedometer calibration.

“Surely, the police's focus should be on tackling those who exceed the speed limit consistently, and, or excessively, as they present the greatest road safety risk,” Mr Williams concluded.

Mr Bangham also claimed that speed awareness courses are being used too widely and urged for more drivers to receive penalty points and fines instead.

But Mr Williams said: “Speed awareness courses have helped many motorists understand the importance of safe speeds.

“These should continue to be part of the solution, and forces should not be in a hurry to load fines and penalty points onto drivers who may well be mistakenly making a small error."

West Midlands chief constable David Thompson also backed offering the “very successful” speed awareness courses and insisted the current speed limits are “not soft on drivers”.

He said: “My view is we're not soft on drivers and actually if you do commit a speeding offence, you do go on a diversionary scheme - a driving awareness course.”

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Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.