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Number of speeding drivers in the countryside accelerates

National speed limit sign

Nearly a half of all motorists admit to breaking the speed limit on 60mph country roads – the highest level since 2016, according to new RAC data.

Some 48% of the 3,102 drivers questioned for the RAC Report on Motoring say they have driven faster than the limit in the past year on these roads – up from 44% in 2021 and matching the highest figure ever seen by the RAC in 2016.

Eight per cent confess to having done this frequently, while 40% say they have done it occasionally on up to half of their journeys on these roads.

In 2021 514 people were killed in a total of 11,827 collisions on 60mph non-built-up roads – a fatality rate of 4%, which is higher than on motorways.

On motorways and high-speed dual carriageways, the UK’s fastest roads, as many as 60% of drivers say they have broken the 70mph limit, either on most journeys (16%), or on up to half of their trips (43%) in the last 12 months.

This is up by five percentage points compared to 2021 when 55% admitted to having exceeded the limit. The 60% figure is the biggest percentage seen by the RAC since 2017, when 66% owned up to this. However, it is still down on the record of 70% reported in both 2015 and 2016.

The percentage who speed on urban roads has changed very little in the past 12 months with 40% of drivers saying they have exceeded the 30mph limit at least occasionally, compared to 41% in 2021, while 46% have broken the limit on 20mph roads, a figure unchanged on the year before.

The most common reason drivers give for exceeding the motorway 70mph limit is that they are travelling at the same speed as other motorists (42%).

The same justification is used by 32% of those who break 60mph limits – the most popular explanation given for exceeding the limit on these roads.

30mph speed signs

Almost half of drivers who have exceeded the speed limit in 20mph zones say this is because they think the limit is inappropriate for that particular road.

Most drivers (69%) think motorists only adhere to 20mph limits when there is enforcement or physical traffic-calming measures in place, while 65% say that signs warning of speed cameras nearby help them stick to the limit.

And, half (52%) say they would be opposed to additional 20mph limits being introduced in their local area. However, a similar proportion (48%) believe some 60mph limits on unclassified rural roads should be reduced.

“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,” said RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams.

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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