Police are currently reviewing their enforcement guidelines because they believe that the current punishments aren’t deterring speeding UK drivers.
According to reports, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, the head of road policing, has launched an official review into speeding on UK roads, specifically into the ‘buffer zone’; this sees drivers ‘able’ to go over the speed limit slightly before police will intervene.
While you can technically be done for speeding by breaking the limit by 1mph, the guidelines for the buffer zone say that drivers ‘can’ go over the limit by 10 per cent plus 2mph before they risk facing prosecution; it’s ultimately down to the police’s discretion. This means that drivers typically don’t face a speeding fine unless they’re going over 34mph in a 30 zone or over 78mph on the motorway.
The guidelines also state that any enforcement should be proportionate and take into account how visible speed limit signs are, plus what the road “feels like”. When you put all these together, it means that many police officers are dishing out speed awareness courses to offending drivers, instead of a fine and points.
But the Chief Constable believes that such a buffer zone sends out the message that “it is okay to speed” and he wants to challenge that perception. The announcement has led some commentators in the press to state that the review could see those going over the limit by 1mph end up with a fine.
Such a possibility though has been quashed by a spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, who stated: “There is no proposal for drivers to be prosecuted for driving one mile per hour over the speed limit – that would be neither proportionate or achievable.”
Instead, the review will examine all current speed enforcement guidelines, “looking at available evidence. The findings of the review will be considered by all chief constables before any action is taken”. The review itself has most likely been triggered by last year’s findings that speeding offences have reached a six-year high – and it is clear that something needs to be done to tackle drivers who believe speeding is okay.
I don’t want the public to be surprised, I want them to be embarrassed when they get caught [speeding]. They need to understand the law is set at the limit for a reason. They should not come whingeing to us about getting caught. If booked at 35 or 34 or 33 at [in a 30mph zone] that cannot be unfair because they are breaking the law.”
– Chief Constable Anthony Bangham at the Police Federations roads policing conference earlier this year.