The Government last year produced a new consultation document which suggests revising the way authorities control vehicle limits to assume that half of drivers break the law.
The document, Public Consultation – Update of Circular Roads 1/93, Setting Local Speed Limits, invited comments from interested parties. An updated version of the guide and an announcement on whether its recommendations have been improved is due soon. Executives at fleet risk management and driver training specialists Pro-Drive believe the new system, which will use a means-based system taking the average speed of existing traffic to set limits, will result in more drivers getting points on their licences.
Managing director Graham hurdle said: ‘As we all know, there are three key speed limits in our roads. The urban 30mph speed limit on street-lit roads, the national 60mph speed limit on single carriageway roads and the 70mph limit on dual carriageways and motorways.
‘Then there are local speed limits, such as 40mph in semi-urban areas or 60mph on less safe stretches of dual carriageway, and these are currently set using a mechanism called the 85th percentile.
‘In other words, the legal limit is set at the speed at which 85% of traffic generally travels, which means that once the limit is set 15% of drivers will be forced to slow down to avoid breaking the law.’
Commenting on the proposal to use a means-based system for setting local speed limits, Hurdle said: ‘Using this approach, limits would be set on the criteria of 50% of drivers going too fast. The knock-on effect is that local speed limits would generally reduce over time and the potential number of drivers statistically liable to get caught and penalised would increase.’
Hurdle warns that the danger for fleets is that an increasing number of drivers getting more points on their licences would mean they might not be able to fulfil their roles if their licences were suspended.