Motorists caught speeding just 1mph over the speed limit should be punished by the police as part of a radical change to roads policing guidelines, Britain’s roads police chief has said.
Speaking at the Police Federations roads policing conference this week, chief constable Anthony Bangham called for a departure from current roads policing norms. According to Bangham, police should scrap the unofficial 10% ‘buffer’ over marked speed limits that most forces currently offer and commit to a much tougher stance on speeders.
The chief constable also called for limited use of speed awareness courses that are currently offered in lieu of points and a fine. According to Bangham, speed awareness courses should only be offered to drivers marginally caught over the speed limit – everyone else should be targeted with a fine and points.
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Current policing guidelines used by some forces allow drivers to speed up to 10% over the current limit before they’re punished. 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.
However, to Bangham this is too soft a stance for the police. Speaking at the conference, he said: “Let’s change the message – we are proud to be law enforcers. 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 whingening 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.”
The news comes after the number of speeding drivers caught on UK roads reached a six-year high last year, with 2.15 million drivers caught by police and cameras.
However, critics have warned that a zero-tolerance approach to speeding would be counteractive to road safety. MP Sir Greg Knight said: “It will make criminals of good motorists who are basically good drivers trying to obey the speed limit while keeping an eye on the road.”
Edmund King, president of the AA added: “Of course speeding is dangerous and drivers should not speed. But surely it is better to educate motorists rater 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.”
A move like this towards zero-tolerance of speeding in the UK could also present problems in terms of prosecuting motorists caught breaking the speed limit by a small margin. The calibration of car speedometers, speed cameras and police speed traps are already brought into question in court cases involving speeding and this could become more prevalent if the margins are tightened further.