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More than 9 million(1) UK drivers have been caught speeding in the last 5 years

And 2.1 million of those were caught in 2023 - the highest for offences since 2019

Published on 30th May 2024
  • Does more need to be done to clamp down on drivers who speed? The latest data shows there’s no signs of slowing down with speeding offences were up 24% in comparison to 2019
  • 30mph zones are the most common speed limits to be broken. Since 2019, more than 4 million drivers have been caught exceeding this speed limit. And 2.5 million were caught exceeding speeds of 50mph or more.
  • Further research reveals more than half (51%) of drivers have been caught speeding in a residential area, mirroring findings from official police data.
  • But are drivers aware how fast they're going? Confused.com put 5 drivers to the test(3) to see just how well they know their speeds - without their speedometer to help them.
  • Louise Thomas, motor expert at Confused.com shares more about the impacts of speeding and why drivers should never risk it when behind the wheel.

More than 9 million(1) UK drivers have been caught speeding over the past 5 years. New data reveals more than 2.1 million drivers were caught speeding in 2023 - the highest for offences since 2019. 

According to the latest data, things don’t seem to be slowing down. That’s as the amount of drivers caught last year shows an increase of 24% in comparison to 2019 figures. That’s according to Confused.com, who sent a Freedom of Information request to UK police forces in relation to speeding offences between 2019 and 2023. The latest data proves speeding is still a huge problem on UK roads. 

Data shows 30mph are the most common zones where drivers were caught speeding over the five-year period. During this time, almost 4 million drivers were caught exceeding the 30mph speed limit, with more than 810,000 of these caught last year. But that’s not all. More than 2.5 million were caught exceeding limits of 50mph or higher over the past 5 years. And more than half a million of these were caught exceeding the 70mph national limit, sparking real cause for concern. Although this data can appear alarming, actual figures could be even higher, as not all drivers get caught every time they speed. 

With so many drivers seemingly breaking the law when it comes to speeding, Confused.com conducted a social experiment to understand if offences are happening because drivers truly can’t judge their speed. To investigate, Louise Thomas, motor expert at Confused.com, took 5 drivers - all with varying driving experience - to a race track in South Wales. Each driver was asked to drive at various speeds, but their speedometer was covered up. Using their own judgement to decide, the test determined how easy it is to guess driving speeds and if drivers take dangerous chances. But what happened when drivers were put to the test? You can watch the full experiment here (2). 

It turns out that without a speedometer to help, the participants failed to judge their speed correctly. In most cases, drivers were over the limit by up to 6mph. While it may not seem like much, this is still enough for motorists to be on the receiving end of a penalty. Some of the participants were under the limit - and sometimes by quite a bit! While driving under the limit won’t cause drivers to be snapped by cameras, it can also be dangerous. For example, driving much slower than the speed limit on a motorway could cause vehicles to potentially collide. But the experiment did tell us one thing for sure - it’s hard to judge speed. And speeding is an offence that some drivers are willing to commit. 

Further research gathered by Confused.com of 2,000 UK motorists backs this claim, as some drivers are arrogant when it comes to speeding. Despite the risks, more than 1 in 4 (28%) drivers say they sometimes break the speed limit, while 1 in 10 (12%) say they often do. To make sure they don’t get caught out, a quarter (25%) of drivers say they’ve driven within the speed limitations where they wouldn’t be prosecuted. For example, driving no faster than 10% of what the speed zone legally allows. Another quarter (24%) say they’ve speeded because they didn’t agree with the original limit in the area they were driving. More than 1 in 5 (23%) also said they haven’t been caught because they knew where the speed cameras were. But 1 in 5 (20%) drivers also said they don’t know the difference between types of cameras.

But as police data shows, drivers do get caught for speeding. And our survey showed how almost half (44%) said they’ve been caught for speeding offences at least once. The most common road to be caught was in a built up area (51%), which includes residential roads, and near houses, schools and hospitals. This correlates with police data, as residential areas tend to have speed limits of 30mph, or most recently, 20mph in certain parts of the UK. Almost half (47%) of those who were caught speeding in residential areas were caught during rush hour - between 7am and 10am, or 4pm and 7pm. 

On average, drivers exceeded the limit by 9mph. That means they could be driving as fast as 40mph where pedestrians are likely in close proximity. Although less common, data also shows how drivers still take risks on roads with higher speed limits too. Almost a third (28%) say they’ve been caught while driving on a dual carriageway, while 1 in 5 (22%) have been caught on a motorway. On these roads, drivers broke the speed limit by 10mph, on average. While drivers on a  motorway exceeded the limit by 12mph, on average. That means drivers could be exceeding speeds of 80mph.

When looking at reasons why drivers speed, the most common responses were:

  • Not knowing the speed limit (32%)
  • Driving with the flow of traffic at the time (28%)
  • Thinking there wouldn’t be police or cameras (14%)
  • Being distracted (12%)
  • Being in a rush to get to work (11%)

The latest police data also shows which drivers could also be the riskiest when it comes to speeding. Of the forces able to provide data, figures show drivers in their 30’s were most likely to break the speed limit. Over the past 5 years, more than 318,000 drivers aged between 30 and 39 were caught speeding. This was closely followed by drivers aged between 40 and 49, where data shows how more than 316,000 were caught. But the number of younger drivers breaking the speed limit was also high, with data revealing around 123,000 were caught since 2019. More than 12,500 of those were aged between 17-19. 

For those who’ve been caught speeding, the most common penalty was receiving points on their licence (53%). This was followed by a fine (51%), or having to attend a speed awareness course (45%). 

Breaking the speed limit is dangerous on any occasion, but inexperienced drivers could be at more risk of being disqualified from driving. This could be as quickly as it took for them to pass their test in the first place. That’s as prosecution for a speeding offence is usually a minimum penalty of 3 points and a £100 fine. But new drivers can only have 6 points within 2 years of passing their test, or risk losing their licence altogether(3). So if they’re not being safe when on the road, there’s a real risk that their licence could be taken away. But for all drivers who are caught speeding, the punishment could be harsher, with driving bans also on the cards for the worst offenders. 

On top of the penalties  that come with speeding offences, there’s also the financial element when it comes to motoring costs too. The research found more than 1 in 5 (22%) of drivers saw their car insurance increase at renewal. These drivers saw their costs  rise by £126, on average. 

Others who have been caught previously seem to have changed their attitudes though. Almost half (45%) say they’re now a more cautious driver after being caught speeding. A quarter (25%) say they haven’t broken the speed limit again after being caught previously. But this is still a minority, so it’s clear that a lot more needs to be done to tackle bad driving habits.

Louise Thomas, motor expert at Confused.com comments:
“More than 2 million drivers were caught speeding last year, so there’s no denying that it’s still a problem on our roads. As our latest experiment revealed, it’s not always easy to judge your speed through an educated guess. So why do so many drivers choose to ignore road signs and their speedometers?

“Our latest research found that drivers speed for a variety of reasons. This includes exceeding the limit because they don’t agree with the speed of the zone, or because they know the roads will be quiet. But you should never risk speeding at any time. Not only is there a risk for your safety, but for other road users too. Your future as a driver could also be impacted, with risk of disqualification from driving altogether, or new financial burdens as a result. 

“The speed limit can vary, depending on the road you’re driving on, or even where in the UK you’re driving. For example, in Wales, 20mph zones have replaced 30mph zones in most built up areas to try and make roads even safer. How you’re caught speeding can also vary. Drivers shouldn’t simply be wary of the bog-standard fixed speeding camera. Our guide on speeding laws can help advise drivers how they can be caught speeding, but more importantly how to keep safe behind the wheel. 


Notes to editors

Unless otherwise stated, all research was carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Confused.com. A survey of 2,000 UK drivers was conducted between 30th January and 5th February 2024.

1. A freedom of information request was sent to UK police forces on 26th January 2024 asking for the following information:

a. The total number of drivers caught exceeding the speed limit in your force area, broken down by year for 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

b. The number of drivers caught exceeding the speed limit in your force area, broken down by speed limit, broken down by year for 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023.

c. The total number of drivers caught exceeding the speed limit in your force area, broken down by age and for 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023

Out of 45 police forces, 36 responded to the request.

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj8u9YszY-s/ https://www.confused.com/car-insurance/speed-awareness

3. https://www.gov.uk/speeding-penalties

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