Graduated fixed penalties for speeding offences – Discussion note

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					Graduated fixed penalties for speeding offences – Discussion note from the Department
for Transport
All queries, Tel: 01484 559909 email:

Questions 1 and 2 – Should there be graduated penalties for speeding, and if not, what
approach should there be?
Brake does not agree that graduated fixed penalties should be adopted. Speed limits are limits.
They are also the law. Speeding above the limit is therefore illegal and should be punished with a
fixed, tough speeding penalty that is simple to implement and easy for drivers and enforcement
agencies to understand.

The Government’s own advertising campaign tells us that at just 35mph a driver’s chance of
killing a pedestrian they hit doubles compared with at 30mph. Slight levels of speeding therefore
radically increases the danger posed and should not be ‘allowed’ by giving drivers less points (the
proposal is for 2 points which would allow drivers to be caught breaking the limit no less than six
times before they are banned), and a fine that is so low (£40) that it would not impact on most
people’s pockets in any significant way.

The fixed penalty should therefore be higher than is currently the case – a higher fine and at
least four points should be the law. Fines for smoking on buses and dog fouling are often around
£500 to £1,000 but pose no immediate risk to life. Society should fine speeders at these levels or
higher. According to the DfT, at 39mph there is more than an 80% chance that if a child runs out
and is hit, they will die. Yet the DfT is proposing that at this speed drivers should be punished at
such a ridiculously low level as to be negligible and a pointless exercise, which is almost as ‘anti-
road safety’ as raising urban speed limits to 40mph or scrapping penalties for speeding at up to
40mph altogether.

Extremely high speeds – say, 40mph or more on a 30mph road, and 80mph on a 60mph road -
should be punished not with a fixed penalty, but with a charge of dangerous driving, which
carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. This charge is infrequently brought, doubtless
because of the costs to the Criminal Justice System as there are so many cases of speeding.
However, given the extent of boy racing, unlicensed, uninsured drivers in the UK, and the
horrendous carnage they cause, it is essential that the CJS is made to bring this charge, and that
these charges are made to stick. One in 10 drivers are under 25 years old, but one in four drivers
who die are under 25, often taking their young passengers, and other road users with them in
multiple fatality crashes.

It is illogical for the CJS to fail to bring charges because there are too many cases. This principle
would not be applied to murder or any other serious criminal activity. Tougher penalties for
speeding, and more speed enforcement, will reduce the number of cases of speeding and the
burden on the CJS.

Question 3 – What does Brake think about the proposed table of graduated penalties?
Brake believes the proposed table of graduated penalties, which in effect reduces penalties for
speeding in many instances, is a disgrace. It flies in the face of the Government’s own research
on the effects of small increases in speed, and can only be explained as pandering to a vocal,
pro-speed lobby, voiced through the tabloid media, in the run-up to a general election. The
Government has failed comprehensively to audit communities’ views of speed through crime and
disorder audits and other means, and, if it did so, Brake believes that reducing fines and points
for speeding would not have widespread public support.
Brake has attached to this response the newspaper coverage of the DfT’s proposals and asks the
DfT to note, as part of its consideration of the proposed table of penalties, that the majority of
coverage in newspapers was in support of road safety campaigners and their disgust at
the proposed penalties. This is illuminating and supports Brake’s view that most people,
communities and even newspapers are not in favour of reducing penalties for speeding,
particularly having learnt the horrendous effects of speeding at just a few miles over the limit
through the DfT’s own TV advertising campaign.

Brake believes that complex calculations (12.5% plus 6mph for a lesser penalty and 25% plus 6
mph for a higher penalty) that the DfT is proposing to implement to allow for the technical
limitations of speedometers is wrong-footed and old-fashioned. The Government should legislate
that all vehicles are fitted with modern, accurate digital speedometers, with clear digital read-outs,
and progress work on satellite-controlling of vehicle speed (as researched by Leeds University).
More LCD signs which tell drivers their speed as they approach should be installed.

Question 4 – Should fixed penalties be higher for repeat offenders?
Repeat speeding offenders should be banned, and quickly. This is why Brake supports more
points for single offences.

Question 5 – Should other factors be taken into account?
For some time now, pro-speed campaigners have argued that drivers should be allowed to go
faster in certain conditions. The most erroneous use of this argument is on the topic of night
driving. It has been argued that drivers should be allowed to drive faster at night because no-one
is about. In actual fact, there is less visibility and therefore drivers should drive more cautiously.
Brake is not in favour of speeding penalties varying according to locations, weather, time of day,
or any other factor, because we are in favour of a strict rule for all speeding offences – a heavy
penalty for breaking a limit, and a charge of dangerous driving for speeds that are well in excess
of the limit.

Supportive speed control measures
Brake is running a campaign called Watch out there’s a Kid about which is calling on the
Government to implement safety zones around all schools, including implementing 20mph limits,
speed cameras (which currently cannot be installed outside many schools because of a
regulation stipulating there must be four deaths or serious injuries first), and engineering
measures. Secretary of State Alistair Darling MP has responded that such zones are impractical
to implement around some schools and that the regulation restricting camera locations is
necessary to retain public support. Brake does not support this view – we believe that all
communities are in favour of speed control around schools, and that the welfare of children
should come first.

In memory of Aaron Turner, 12, killed by a speeding driver outside his school in Grimsby as he
crossed the road in his lunch hour to buy a can of coke.

End/ 21.9.04
Ref. Dft consultation – graduatedspeedingfines sep04