There has been a significant rise in the proportion of drivers who admit to speeding on 60mph rural roads where more deaths occur than on any other road type, new RAC data has found.
According to the RAC Report on Motoring, almost half (48%) of the 3,102 drivers surveyed admit to exceeding the speed limit on 60mph non-built-up roads, which is up from 44% in 2021 and matches the highest figure seen in 2016. Out of those, 8% said they do this frequently, while 40% said they do it occasionally on up to half of their journeys on these roads.
In 2021, 514 people died in a total of 11,827 collisions on these roads, which is higher than the fatality rate on motorways.
On motorways and high-speed dual carriageways, 60% of drivers confessed to breaking the 70mph limit, with 16% doing so on most journeys and 43% on up to half of their trips, up by 5% compared to 2021.
The most common reason given for exceeding the 70mph limit is that other drivers are doing so. Additionally, 40% of drivers admit to exceeding the 30mph limit occasionally on urban roads, while 46% break the limit on 20mph roads.
Nearly half of drivers who exceed the speed limit on 20mph roads believe that the limit is inappropriate for that particular road.
Finally, while 52% of drivers oppose additional 20mph limits in their local area, 48% believe that some 60mph limits on unclassified rural roads should be reduced.
RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “The recent increase in the proportion of drivers admitting to speeding on 60mph rural roads is extremely worrying as more people lose their lives every year in collisions on these roads than on any other. It’s even more concerning that this figure is now back to the all-time high of 48%.2
“While the number of fatalities on our roads is no longer falling, we certainly don’t want to see an increase in deaths. We think the Government should address the issue of fatalities on 60mph rural roads by advising roads authorities to reduce limits on the most dangerous stretches to more appropriate levels. This is something half of drivers (48%) surveyed for the RAC Report on Motoring would like to see, with only a quarter (24%) disagreeing.
“Drivers sometimes forget or underestimate the role speed plays in fatal and serious collisions as they tend not to see it in the same light as offences like drink or drug-driving or talking on a handheld phone. In fact, in 2021 as many as 253 people lost their lives in collisions where someone was exceeding the speed limit.3
“Unfortunately, with our data showing a bigger proportion of drivers now admitting to exceeding the 70mph limit on our fastest roads than at any point since 2017, we are fearful this could be on the way back to the high points of 2015 and 2016 where 70% admitted this. The implications of this from a road safety point of view would be negative.
“What’s more, although motorways are statistically the UK’s safest roads, the abundance of digital signage on them could easily be used to make to try to make them even safer by reminding drivers of the dangers of breaking the speed limit.4
Have you witnessed other drivers frequently breaking the speed limit? What measures do you think can be implemented to prevent this issue? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.