Speeding Offences

Speeding Offences in the UK

Drivers who exceed the speed limit and are caught doing so by the police may be issued a fixed penalty ticket (speeding fine) or be summoned to attend court. In some cases penalty points from speeding offences can be avoided if you are invited to attend a speed awareness course.

Evidence of speeding offences may be obtained in a number of ways:

  • from observation of two policemen who observed the driver
  • from observation of one policeman and other mechanical evidence from a speed gun
  • from a speed camera of an approved type
  • from expert evidence about skid marks
  • from a time and distance device installed in the police vehicle

The speed limit varies according to the type of vehicle and the type of road. The following table is a summary of the UK speed limits.

Vehicle type Built-up areas Single carriageway Dual carriageway Motorway
Cars 30 mph 60 mph 70 mph 70 mph
Vehicles towing 30 mph 50 mph 60 mph 60 mph
Coaches / buses 30 mph 50 mph 60 mph 70 mph
Lorries up to 7.5 tonnes 30 mph 50 mph 60 mph 70 mph
Lorries more than 7.5 tonnes 30 mph 40 mph 50 mph 60 mph

Drivers should be aware that there is a risk of receiving an instant ban from excessive speeding.
When speeding offences are in excess of 45% of the speed limit, there is a risk of an instant driving ban.
The following table identifies the speed limit and the associated speed which could result in an instant ban.

Speed Limit Speed Alleged
30 mph In excess of 51 mph
40 mph In excess of 66 mph
50 mph In excess of 75 mph
60 mph In excess of 85 mph
70 mph In excess of 100 mph

For speeds in excess of 100 mph (or more than 30 miles above the relevant limit) the punishment starts at disqualification as opposed to penalty points. However, the decision is at the discretion of the Court and in certain circumstances, a disqualification can be avoided.

Temporary speed limits

If you were caught speeding through a temporary speed limit you will receive penalty points for speeding on the basis that at the time you passed through that area there was an order in place for the revised speed limit.
The effects and implications are the same whether it is a temporary or permanent speed restriction.

Penalty Points

Points are valid for 3 years from the date of conviction but cannot be removed from your licence until their fourth anniversary. If you amass 12 points in any 3 year period, you face disqualification.

Speed Cameras

Gatso Camera

The most common speed camera on UK roads is the Gatso. At a pre-determined speed the camera is activated and flashes. The Gatso usually photographs the rear of the car but can occasionally be set to flash oncoming motorists. This is rare as the camera flash in the face of the motorist may be considered not safe. As it takes a picture of the rear of the car, the gatso can not normally be used to identify who the driver was.

The Truvelo Camera

The Truvelo Camera faces towards the oncoming traffic and can be used to identify the oncoming driver. They are becoming more commonplace. This speed camera does not produce a flash but uses an infra red flash triggered by sensors in the road.

SPECS Cameras

SPECS is a system of average speed enforcement. It has been in use since 1999 and uses cameras that are linked together to cover a length of road. It is mainly used at known accident locations and road works.
The cameras use automatic number plate recognition technology. The number plate of a vehicle is read as it passes a camera. It is then read again by a separate camera further along the road. If the average speed is over a certain level above that set by the local police authority, the number plate, speed, images are logged and a speeding ticket can be automatically issued

Hand held Cameras

The use of hand held radar guns is still widespread. Radar guns need to be strictly calibrated and the operator should not be “hiding”.

Speed Awareness Courses

Speed awareness courses are offered to drivers who have been detected speeding within a certain threshold of a speed limit. The course is designed as an educational alternative to drivers caught speeding rather receiving a £100 fixed penalty notice and 3 penalty points.

What is a speed awareness course?
The speed awareness course was set up to educate rather then prosecute drivers.
The course is designed to benefit drivers by making them aware of the repercussions of speeding and as a result, contribute to better road safety.
A speed awareness course is offered to drivers who have committed a speeding offence in any speed band except 20 mph zones.
The courses are offered by the Police but contracted out to local authority road safety departments or private companies who are members of the National Association of Driver Intervention Providers (NADIP).

Who can attend a speed awareness course?
Courses are only available to drivers who receive an offer to attend from the police authority where the offence was committed. Courses are only offered to drivers who have exceeded a speed limit within an agreed threshold. The course is an option available to Police authorities and that not all speeding drivers will be invited to take it up.

Speed limit threshold.
The Association of Chief Police Officers guidance states that speed awareness courses are designed to cover drivers detected of committing a speeding offence within the ranges of 10%+2 mph to 10%+9 mph over the speed limit.

How often can I attend a speed awareness course?
A driver can only attend one speed awareness course within a three year period.

Will my previous driving history be taken into account?
Previous driving history will not be taken into account when making an offer to attend a course.

Where can I attend a speed awareness course?
Speed awareness courses are available to you depending on where the offence took place. If you receive notification to attend a course and it is marked as ’National’, you can attend a course within another “National” participating force. If you are unsure, you should contact the course provider that sent you the notification to attend letter.
Speed awareness course locations are available from course providers throughout the UK

How much does a speed awareness course cost?
On average speed awareness courses cost from £60 to £100. You will need to contact the course provider in the area you are attending a course.

The aims of a speed awareness course
Speed awareness courses are intended to encourage drivers to:

  • Develop a positive attitude towards road safety.
  • Identify consequences of your actions on the road.
  • Recognise the different speed limits.
  • Recognise personal responsibility as a road user.
  • Facilitate an opportunity to examine your attitude towards, and recognise hazard perception.

How long do the courses last?
Each course lasts between 4 and 5 hours and is a theory based session. The exact duration will depend on the content included in each session by the course provider and feedback from attendees.

Who conducts the course?
The courses will usually be conducted by national accredited trainers

What to expect on a speed awareness course
The course involves an interactive classroom session that uses a variety of audio visual aides along with a mixture of lecture and discussion sessions.
Some of the images used in the classroom can be very graphic; this is designed to shock you as a driver into realising the effects of vehicle collisions at various speeds and the potential fatal consequences of driving a vehicle at speed.

Will I have to drive on the course?
You will not be required to drive on the course.

Is there a test at the end of the course?
There is no test at the end of the course. However the instructors taking the course will provide a summary of the course content at the end and you will be expected to actively partake in any group discussions throughout the session.

Will I still receive penalty points?
Once you have attended and completed the course no further action will be taken. You will not receive any penalty points and no record of the offence will be endorsed on your driving licence.

If you can not attend the course.
If you can not attend on the day allocated, you need to contact the course provider who will decide if you can attend on another date. This will depend on your circumstances and the reasons you offer for not being able to attend on the initial date given. In some instances the course provider may refer you back to the Police. If this happens the Police will send you a fixed penalty notice or issue you with a summons to attend Court.

If you are late or unable to attend on the day.
You will not be admitted to the course in you arrive late. If there are exceptional circumstances for not attending on the day you will need to contact the course provider as soon as possible. If you are unable to attend due to ill health you will need to obtain a doctors certificate. If you do not contact the course provider, they will refer your case back to the Police to consider further action.

Can I attend a course voluntarily?
You can only attend a course if you have been offered a place by the Police.

Do I need my driving licence?
You will need to check with your course provider to see if they require your driving licence However, as part of the course provider’s terms and conditions you will usually be required to provide photographic identification to prove your identity. It may be appropriate therefore, to take your photo card driving licence. In the case that you only have a paper driving licence then a passport may be used as a form of identification. If you cannot prove your identity you may fail the course before it starts.

Will attending a speed awareness course affect my insurance premium?
There is no difinitive answer to this. Some insurance companies may see attendance at a speed awareness course as a driving conviction even though the police do not. Your insurance company may expect you to declare it otherwise they may void your insurance policy. The UK press makes reference to insurance companies increasing insurance premiums on notification of attendance of policy holders attending the speed awareness courses. Insurance companies may deem you a higher risk if you have been caught speeding whether you opt to at attend a speed awareness course or not. This may then be reflected in your premium
This matter has been taken up by The Chartered Insurance Institute, however the outcome is still pending.
It may be advisable to notify your insurance company for piece of mind. At least you have then been honest and upfront with them and in the event of an accident and potential claim have piece of mind that your insurance policy will not be void.