New 86mph speed limit rules – a get-out-of-jail free card for motorists?

New 86mph speed limit rules a get out of jail free card for motorists

Oxfordshire has become the first county in the UK to adopt new speeding guidelines that allow drivers to travel at up to 86mph and avoid points on their licence.

The new framework could have a profound effect on the number of people who suffer road traffic accident injuries caused by other drivers’ carelessness – No Win No Fee solicitors such as Claims Direct can help these people claim compensation.

Motorists in Oxfordshire can now sometimes avoid incurring points’ penalties for speeding if they agree to pay to attend speed awareness courses.

The scheme will be watched with great interest by police authorities in other parts of the UK – 37 out of 44 signed up to the new speeding framework in January.

Participating police forces will now have the freedom to apply the new rules to drivers who are caught speeding at 10 per cent above the limit plus 9mph.

As motorways and major roads in the UK have a 70mph limit, many motorists will now sometimes be able to travel at up to 86mph without incurring a points penalty.

Arguments in favour of the new system

1.The government will be well aware that the new system should save money as it will be cheaper to enforce and administer. It will also raise revenue as the speed awareness courses are expected to cost between £60 to £100.  The government intends that the revenue from the courses be ‘ring-fenced’ so that it is spent on re-activating speed cameras and investing in road safety.

2.It has also been emphasised that police authorities can use discretion when applying the new speeding rules. For instance, an Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) spokesperson said that the decision to put points on the licence of someone speeding outside a school gates at 3:15 in the afternoon would be a “no-brainer”.

3.An Acpo spokesperson said: “There is evidence to show that if people are sent on educational courses, rather than being punished with a fine and penalty points, they are less likely to reoffend in the future.”

4.Figures such as Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond believe that technological advances and improved laws have made it safer to travel at speed. Mr Hammond has raised the possibility of raising the motorway limit to 80mph; pointing out that the current limit of 70mph was set 50 years ago before the era of compulsory seat belts and air bags. The relaxation of speeding laws seems to support this way of thinking. 

5.The Institute of Advanced Motorists believes that the new guidelines will still act as a deterrent to speeding as drivers can only attend a maximum  of one speed awareness course in any three-year period – after that they will be hit by points penalties.

Arguments against

1.Danger to children – the new guidelines mean that motorists caught speeding in a 30mph speed zone might now escape the points sanction if they are travelling at or below 425mph. Joel Hickman of road safety charity Brake said: “If you hit a child at 30mph, it’s the equivalent of that child falling out of a three-storey building. Driving at 42mph would mean that child having no chance of survival.”

2.Critics say the rules give a green light and a get-out-of-jail-free-card to law breakers and are just designed to rake more money into government coffers by charging speed awareness course fees.

3.Vested interests - commercial firms could profit from the new rules by tendering to provide speed awareness courses to police forces.

4.A system which punishes poorer motorists? Richer motorists should be able to afford to make the choice between paying to attend a course or having points on their licence. This luxury of choice might be denied to poorer motorists.

5.The wrong message? Joel Hickman of Brake voices the concerns of many road safety campaigners by saying: “It sends out a message that it’s ok to speed, which it certainly is not. Speeding is a factor in a quarter of all crashes.”