Police could take tougher approach to speeding

Chief constable says 10 per cent plus 2mph buffer zone guideline gives the impression “it is OK to speed”

Penalty points, police, speeding

Police could soon get tougher on speeding drivers, after an official review into speeding “buffer zones” was launched. 

In a new report Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, the National Police Chief Council’s lead on road policing, says that allowing drivers to breach the speed limit slightly before facing prosecution gives the impression that “it is OK to speed”.

• UK speed limits explained

While drivers can technically be prosecuted for breaking the speed limit by any amount, buffer zone guidelines allow police to use discretion before issuing a penalty. The 10 per cent plus 2mph rule means drivers will often not face action unless they are travelling at 35mph or more in a 30mph zone, or 79mph and over on the motorway. 

Current guidelines also advise enforcement should be “proportionate”, as well as taking into account how clear speed limit signs are, and what the road “feels like”. Those caught just a few miles per hour over the buffer are often offered driver awareness courses as an alternative to points and a fine. 

But in a review into buffer zones seen by the Mail on Sunday, Bangham considers that: “We need to change our messaging and ensure greater consistency of approach when dealing with those who exceed the speed limit.”

A spokesman from the National Police Chiefs' Council said officers have: "a range of options available to them when drivers are speeding" and "respond in a proportionate way based on the circumstances in each case."

The spokesman confirmed that "current speed enforcement guidelines for police set in 2011 are being reviewed looking at available evidence. The findings of the review will be considered by all chief constables before any action is taken." The spokesman added, though, that:  "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.“

The review into buffer zones follows comments by Bangham back in January that current perceptions around speeding needed to change. Speaking at the Police Federations roads policing conference, he said: “I don’t want the public to be surprised, I want them to be embarrassed when they get caught. They need to understand the law is set at the limit for a reason. They should not come whingeing to us about getting caught.

• UK speeding offences reach six-year high

“If booked at 35 or 34 or 33 at [in a 30mph zone] that cannot be unfair because they are breaking the law.”

Bangham, who is also Chief Constable of West Mercia police, previously admitted that while drink-drive and mobile phone bans had widespread public support, motorists “actively resisted” attempts to crack down on speeding.

Commenting on Bangham’s comments back in January, Edmund King, president of the AA said: “Of course speeding is dangerous and drivers should not speed. But surely it is better to educate motorists rather than just slap a fine on them. The last thing we want is drivers glued to the speedometer 100 per cent of the time. We want drivers to concentrate on the road ahead and not be worried about one or two miles over the limit.” 

Would you support a tougher stance on speeding? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below... 

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