Large increase in the number of 20mph speeding offences

A recent investigation by The Times, using a Freedom of Information request, reveals that individuals driving over 20mph received fines at a rate eight times higher than those exceeding 60mph.

This development follows partly due to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to reduce speed limits on numerous major roads in the city, as part of his commitment to prioritise safety and environmental sustainability by promoting walking and cycling over driving. The number of fines are expected to continue to rise, with the Mayor urging the Metropolitan Police to be equipped to enforce up to one million speeding penalties by next year.

It’s important to recognize that the 20mph speed restrictions are here to stay, supported by evidence demonstrating their potential to reduce road fatalities. A collision survey conducted in 2005 revealed that only 5% of pedestrians struck at 20mph were fatally injured, compared to 50% at 30mph.

There are additional societal advantages that are more challenging to quantify. These include enhancing the sense of safety among vulnerable road users, fostering walking and cycling, and decreasing both car usage and traffic.

However, critics of the 20mph speed limit do exist. A comprehensive study conducted in 2018, hailed as the most extensive and sophisticated investigation into the effects of 20mph speed limits, indicated that drivers’ median speed only marginally decreased by 0.7mph in residential areas and 0.9mph in city centre zones where limits had been reduced from 30mph to 20mph.

The 20mph a highly flouted law

The seemingly low overall impact in the reduction in average speeds may be because the 20mph speed limit is so widely flouted. In 2023 alone 216,000 charges for breaking the 20mph speed limit were made. Although you will have individuals who are charged multiple times it does mean we are potentially criminalising around 200,000 people. In the real world a significant number of these will be dealt with via speed awareness classes so no criminal charges are brought.

If it’s your first instance of speeding or if you haven’t participated in a speed awareness course within the past three years, you may qualify for one. However, eligibility also depends on the severity of the speeding offence and the discretion of the involved police force.

Typically, there are specific thresholds for speeding that allow for participation in a speed awareness course. If you exceed these thresholds, the option for a course may not be offered. The allowable margin above the speed limit usually ranges from 10% of the limit plus 2mph to 10% of the limit plus 9mph. Nevertheless, the exact criteria may vary according to the regulations set by the prosecuting police force. So a guideline for speed allowances to potentially be offered the speed awareness course are:

  • 20mph limit: speeding between 24mph and 31mph
  • 30mph limit: speeding between 35mph and 42mph
  • 40mph limit: speeding between 46mph and 53mph
  • 50mph limit: speeding between 57mph and 64mph
  • 60mph limit: speeding between 68mph and 75mph
  • 70mph limit: speeding between 79mph and 86mph

What happens if you aren’t offered a speeding awareness course

If you’re caught driving over the 20mph limit and aren’t offered a speeding awareness course, then you’ll be fined and have at least 3 points added to your license. You’ll need to disclose the conviction to your insurance company and your premium will undoubtedly rise.

If you receive points these will remain on your license for 4 years after the date of the offence. If you go over 12 points at any time (6 points if you’ve been driving for less than 2 years), then you’ll receive a driving ban which is usually referred to as a ‘totting up ban’. You’ll get a ban of between 6 months and 2 years depending on your previous driving history (plus you’ll also need to retake your test if the ban exceeds 56 days).

You can challenge a ban but it will not be covered by legal aid so you will need to pay privately. If you face a disqualification as a ‘totter’ there are applications we can make to the Court to help you keep your licence. You’ll typically need to prove the ban was either unfairly imposed or that a ban will cause exceptional hardship. Either fill out the Contact Us form below and one of our solicitors will get back to you, or just give us a call