HUNDREDS of thousands of company car drivers could be exposing themselves to fines and penalty points for speeding because they do not know they are breaking the law.
A major survey testing drivers' real-world awareness of speed limits found that 58% were not aware they were going too fast.
The research, conducted by Pro-Drive, the Stafford-based fleet risk management and driver training specialist, tested 66 drivers over a 12-mile route. It was made up of seven miles of 30mph limits, with the remaining five miles being A roads, B roads and dual carriageways.
Each person was observed driving the route as part of a driver training assessment, whereby delegates are asked to drive normally so that the trainer can identify their bad habits, weaknesses and training needs.
They were then asked to complete a questionnaire, and one question was 'How many times do you think you exceeded the speed limit by between 10% and 19%, between 20% and 29%, and by more than 30%?'
The results showed only 15% of drivers believed they had exceeded the speed limit at all, with only 6% admitting they had broken it by between 20% and 29%.
No-one felt they had exceeded the limit by more than 30%. However, Pro-Drive's training consultants revealed that 12% had exceeded the speed limit by more than 30%, 21% by more than 20%, and 58% by more than 10%.
Graham Hurdle, managing director of Pro-Drive, said: 'It's not the fact that drivers are speeding which makes this survey so revealing. After all, we are used to seeing people speed during our pre-training assessment drives. What is most startling is the fact that the individuals didn't know they were speeding.
'This means they are not observing road signs properly, are not aware of their true braking distances and are not checking their speedometer regularly enough.'
The research also shows how difficult it can be to address speeding, as many methods, including safety cameras, assume people are speeding consciously.