Half of British car drivers exceeded the speed limit on motorways and even more broke 30mph limits throughout 2019, Government figures have revealed.

In a statistical release from the Department for Transport (DfT) based on speed data from its Automatic Traffic Counter technology, 50% of cars and 53% of motorcycles exceeded the 70mph speed limit on motorways. 

Those respective figures rose to 54% and 63% on 30mph roads, although they dropped sharply to 9% and 26% on 60mph single carriageways.

However, the proportion of cars exceeding the limit by more than 10mph was far lower – down to 12% on motorways and 6% on 30mph roads. 

Despite these figures, the DfT admits that overall compliance with speed limits “has remained broadly stable since 2011”. More specific comparisons between years shouldn’t be drawn, it says, due to differences in sample sizes and locations. 

The figures also only take into account “free-flow” speeds and exclude locations where external factors restrict behaviour, such as speed cameras, traffic calming measures, sharp bends and junctions.

Exceeding speed limits was a contributory factor in 5.1% of road traffic accidents in 2018, according to the DfT’s data. 

Last year, the RAC conducted a Report on Motoring survey that asked the public to select up to three reasons why they exceeded the speed limit. The top reason given for exceeding motorway limits was “I drive according to the speed of other road users”, while for 20mph zones, 33% of users claimed the speed limit was inappropriate for the road in question.


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