What’s the speed limit? 40mph. Well that means you can travel 46MPH before police will prosecute you for breaking the law, right? That is a commonly held belief by many drivers in the UK, but is it correct? The simple answer is yes mainly, with a bit of no thrown in for good measure.
According to guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) enforcement will normally occur when a driver exceeds the speed limit by a particular margin. And the particular margin is normally 10 per cent over the speed limit plus 2mph.
But these are only guidelines and a police officer can choose to act outside of them providing he acts fairly, consistently and proportionately – this is according to information on the Crown Prosecution Service website.
Storm in a Teacup
Recent comments from well-meaning Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, of West Mercia Police, have caused a bit of a stir and led to concerns that police enforcement is due to become much stricter.
What CC Bangham thinks is particularly important, as he is the lead for the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) on road policing.
During a speech at the beginning of this year CC Bangham gave the impression drivers might be prosecuted for exceeding a speed limit by even 1mph.
As you might imagine – a change of that degree to the guidance would make life difficult for the public but also police forces around the country. As an example, the Sunday Times arranged for a speed trap to be set up outside of CC Bangham’s offices and registered 117 drivers surpassing the 30mph speed limit in just two hours.
These statements resulted in open criticism by fellow senior officer Chief Insp Ian Hanson, chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation. Quoted in the Birmingham Mail CI Hanson said: “I find it absolutely staggering that the effective policy lead for policing should show himself to be so out of touch.”
So last month CC Bangham went on the record on the National Police Chiefs Blog to clarify his position and clear things up.
“Comments I made last week have led to a perception that the police are going to be pursuing and prosecuting drivers just one mph over the speed limit. That is not the case and was never advocated – and I now need to clear up the misunderstanding,” CC Bangahm said on the blog.
Though he did say: “Officers have discretion to act based on the circumstances. There may well be occasions where someone is speeding a couple of miles over the speed limit outside a school and an officer could reasonably decide it is proportionate to stop them.
“Our priority for action is always going to be the most dangerous drivers but the reality is many drivers now routinely drive above the speed limit. Of course common sense must be applied, but there should not be a ‘comfort zone’ over the speed limit where it is considered safe to speed. The limit is the limit for a reason.”
So is 10% + 2mph Real
The answer is yes and no. You can be prosecuted for going just 1mph over the limit but it’s all about being proportionate but the police guidance hasn’t changed.
Of course, when driving a commercial vehicle, many factors will need to be taken into account and speed limits might be different to those signposted depending on the class of vehicle being driven.
Microlise Fleet Performance makes it easy to monitor speeding incidences within a fleet, understand how many, when and where infringements have occurred and take action where necessary.