New speeding fines | OPINION
The UK has rolled out new speeding laws today (24th April 2017). Fines have gone up to a maximum of £2500 for motorway offences, £1000 everywhere else. With means tested fines making it potentially more expensive, pressure on courts to make the most of their powers (meaning easier disqualification), and increased usage of technology it gives us more chances of getting caught and a stiffer penalty if we do. Any casual or habitual speed freaks had better pay attention.
Are the new laws really meant to be a road safety measure and deterrent? Or is it just a case of milking the average motorist for every penny and turning every inch of tarmac into a virtual toll road?
New speeding fines
Speed limit Recorded speed
20 21-30 31-40 41 and above
30 31-40 41-50 51 and above
40 41-55 55-65 66 and above
50 51-65 66-75 76 and above
60 61-80 81-90 91 and above
70 71-90 91-100 101 and above
Fine band A B C
Fine 50%* 100%* 150%
Disqualification? 3 points 7-28 days 7-56 days
Or points? 4-6 points 6 points
*Percentage of your weekly income fined
What’s actually changed?
Previously the maximum fine was £1000, or £2500 in extreme cases of speeding on a motorway. Under the new laws the maximum £2500 will still be capped but offenders can now be fined up to 150% of their weekly income, which will affect the average worker. If you’re unlucky enough to work for SLUK you could be fined up to £66.23!
Courts are being encouraged to apply Band C fines. In theory if caught doing 51mph in a 30 zone you could be given 6 penalty points and be fined 150% of your weekly income, or be disqualified from driving/riding for up to 56 days. Disqualification also entails future insurance price hikes.
Band or banned?
- Band C: If you earn £20,000 per year and get a Band C fine you’ll get a fine of £576, plus six points.
- Band B: If you got a Band B fine (for instance doing 41-50mph in a 30) you could be fined a weeks wages, that’s £384 per week for our 20k a year earner. You’ll also get 4 points, or could be disqualified for up to 28 days.
- Band A: You’re likely to get a Band A fine for doing between 31-40mph in a 30 zone. The penalty for that is 50% of your weekly wage (£192) and three points on your licence.
- By comparison the average fine dished out in 2015 was £188.
The revised fining structure and increasing pressure for magistrates to use their powers isn’t the end of it. Magistrates can still use their powers to further punish persistent offenders, by means of driving bans or prison sentences if they deem your offence serious enough.
For many of us the thrill of opening the throttle, listening to the induction roar and the rattle of an expansion pipe as it reverberates off the walls and embankments is something we live for. Our scooters are much less powerful than pretty much everything on the road but they can still be quick enough to get us a ban/big fine. There aren’t many scooters capable of a true 80mph on the roads, so speeding fines on motorways won’t trouble us too much (except on variable speed limits/SMART motorways/or through road works).
Where we’re likely to suffer is in rural areas, or in towns (not that speeding through a built up area should be encouraged). Obviously there’s one sure fire way of not getting caught, that’s by sticking to the speed limits and many riders do but for others it’s well worth the risk and getting away with it potentially adds to the thrill.
Spotting a far off speed trap and being able to react in time is all part of the game. Noticing a roadside camera in an unfamiliar area leaves a feeling of pride. Overtaking one of those ‘pretend’ police vehicles emblazoned with the ‘Traffic enforcement Officer’ lettering, driven by the ex-school bully on minimum wage, knowing he’s very unlikely to be flushing your head down the toilet or stealing your dinner money is quite satisfying.
The need for speed
For me personally speed is addictive, I’m not talking about a wrap of whizz bought from Dave down the pub. I’m talking about pushing a small-wheeled scooter to my own limits. Does it make me reckless?
I want to live and be uninjured whilst riding. I want to get the most from both myself and my various machines. I also want to do it with a margin of safety. As such I’ve never been satisfied with ‘just’ passing a test. Although I passed both my bike and car tests back in 1988, they certainly didn’t teach me much about machine control and being safe on the road. The bike test was pretty much a round the block formality back then. Thankfully both rider and driver training is much more thorough these days. Even so, most long in the tooth riders are complacent and think they know it all.
In my quest for lifelong skills, excitement and knowledge I’ve taken lots and lots of different advanced rider courses, both on the road and race track. I’ve taken the usual hi-viz vest wearing courses and qualifications, as well as track and off-road tuition. The various disciplines don’t always fit together seamlessly and all training methods have their own style and opinions but no matter which one you do, you will benefit as a result.
For me increased skill goes hand in hand with keeping me safe on the road. I ride quickly but I don’t take unnecessary risks and I’m pretty sure I don’t get labelled as reckless or dangerous by others. The added awareness of taking in the information around me, using it, analysing and calculating my surroundings hundreds of times a second is all about my own survival. I don’t find myself having problems with ‘Sorry mate I didn’t see you’ drivers. Even if they don’t see me, I’ve given myself the best chance of escaping before they even they know what they’re about to do.
Hazard perception, awareness and planning is the key to staying safe and the higher the speed the higher the risk. A very quick and highly experienced police motorcyclist once said to me at a track day “I can be riding on blues and two’s at 90mph through the centre of Birmingham and it’s like having a sixth sense. My senses are heightened to such a degree that I’m safer than most law abiding drivers on the road.” Of course he was right. As long as your self preservation skills are all there and you’re trained and capable to do what you’re doing it’s obvious you’re going to be safer as the risks/speed increases.
Bad driving/riding kills
Despite what we’re brainwashed into believing, speed isn’t the primary cause of death in most road traffic accidents. Lack of skill is the main factor. Rather than using speeding drivers/riders as a simple cash generating machine to fund both Government coffers and underfunded police forces, penalties should include advanced training. Improve the quality of road users and accident statistics would be reduced in the long term, whilst still raising cash to help fund our diminishing police force.
Have your say
Are the new speeding fines and penalties likely to affect you? Will it make you think more when riding and if so will you be more worried about getting caught? Would having to take extra training (not just a speed awareness course) be more beneficial to road safety than a simple fine/ban? Leave your comments below…