Why is it so important to stick to the speed limit?

Have you been caught speeding? You’re not alone. Every year, the police and courts issue millions of fixed penalties, fines, licence endorsements and even driving bans to motorists for driving too fast.

But what’s behind the clampdown on speeding? And why is convicted driver insurance expensive?
Let’s take a closer look at speeding and how it could affect you if you get caught.

Accidents and driving errors

The stark truth is that if you drive too fast, you are more likely to be involved in an accident. It’s harder to control your vehicle, you have less time to react, and your braking distance increases.

Speeding also magnifies other errors, such as driving while tired or getting too close to the car in front.
According to Department for Transport figures, excess speed was a contributory factor in 11% of accidents in Britain in 2017.

Plus, accidents are likely to be worse if you were travelling at speed. Some 21% of fatal accidents had speed as a factor.  

So it’s hardly surprising that convicted driver insurance costs more.

Speeding offences and penalties

There are several categories of speeding offence, depending on the type of vehicle (for example, passenger or heavy goods vehicle) and the category of road (for example, A road or motorway).

Offences are also graded according to how far above the limit they are.

If you were caught driving just slightly over the speed limit, you may well be offered a speed awareness course. This does not count as a conviction, though you should tell your insurance provider if asked.

If you’ve already done a speed awareness course in the past three years, or if you were further over the limit, you are likely to be sent a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). You must pay a fine of at least £100 and your licence will be endorsed with a minimum of three points, which stay on your driving record for four years.

This counts as a motoring conviction – not to be confused with a criminal conviction.
More serious speeding offences are likely to entail prosecution. You could be looking at a hefty fine and several points on your licence, or even a driving ban.

If you are convicted in court, that’s a criminal conviction.

Why does it affect my insurance?

If you have a speeding conviction, it’s not just the fine that could leave you out of pocket. You’ll also be looking at a rise in the cost of your insurance premium.

Insurance providers know that drivers who speed are more likely to be involved in a costly accident. Consequently, premiums for convicted driver insurance will be higher than for those drivers who stick to the speed limit.

While a simple FPN may not dent your bank balance too badly, more serious offences could make your insurance rise considerably – or even leave you struggling to find cover.

So the next time you see your speedometer rising, remember: it could make your payments rise, too.

Why are speed limit signs important?

You might think that driver judgement should determine the speed of travel – particularly on roads you’re familiar with.

Perhaps you also think that when the roads are quieter, say at night, you should be able to drive faster.

So why should you follow the speed limit at all times? One, it’s for your personal safety and the safety of other road users. Two, weather conditions can affect a road surface so you won’t always ‘know a road’ as well as you think you do. And three, you never know what’s just around the corner – a stationary car, an animal lose the road, a cyclist or a pedestrian.

Is it okay to go a little over the speed limit?

You may have heard the claim that the police will allow you a leeway of 10% plus 2 before slapping you with a speeding ticket. So if the speed limit is 30, then you can supposedly get away with 35.
This is one of those urban myths that has landed a lot of drivers in hot water.
While police have been known to give drivers leeway, they are not legally obliged to do so, so don’t bank on it!
Plus, if you’re aiming to drive at 35 in a 30 zone, there are likely to be moments when you nudge the speedometer upwards. If that’s when you’re passing a camera or mobile speeding unit, there may well be an unwelcome FPN in the post for you in the next fortnight.

What is the safest speed to drive?

Remember: a speed limit is a maximum, not a target. Even if the sign says 50, it may be safer to drive at 40 or even lower, depending on several factors, like:

1. Weather conditions

In the colder months, check out warnings for ice, including black ice, and slow down if it’s forecast. In rain, remember that both your visibility and braking distance are reduced. In fog, put your fog lights on and proceed with the utmost caution. Look out for police warnings in the media: if they advise against all but essential travel, they mean it!

2. The road itself

If you’re driving on a particularly winding road, take your speed down a notch as no one can see around corners!

3. Other traffic

Slow down for bikes, horses and other slow-moving vehicles. Don’t beep your horn or overtake aggressively: they have the right to be there, too.

4. Pedestrians

If there are more pedestrians around – say in a busy town centre, or near a school – ease off the gas as the risk will be increased.

Get a quote for convicted driver insurance today

It can be hard to get back on the road after a conviction, especially a driving ban. Many insurance providers won’t cover you, and costs can be sky-high.

Insurance Factory compares quotes from different providers to find you the very best offer. We won’t judge you or your mistakes, we’ll just search providers to find the best quote for your individual circumstances to get you back behind the wheel with as little fuss as possible.