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Over Half UK Bikers Break Speed Limits

Over half of UK motorcyclists exceed the motorway and 30mph speed limits, but the proportion doing so fell last year, according to the latest figures from the Department for Transport. Using cameras to take a sample of traffic on free-flowing sections of roads, the DfT found that in 2021 59% broke the motorway limit and the same proportion exceeded a 30mph limit – 28% were over the 60mph limit on single-carriageway roads. Some of these speeders could have been marginal (as little as 1mph over the limit), but 14% of bikers were riding at 40mph or more in 30-limits, and one in ten were hustling along at 70mph or more on a single-carriageway road.

The figures for 2022 showed a slight fall, with 55% speeding on motorways and 56% in 30-limits. Overall, riders are more likely to speed than car drivers, more likely to do so at the weekend and most often between April and September.

What about the other questions we all ask? Do speed cameras actually reduce road casualties? Many studies have shown that they do – the effect may be fairly localised, but it’s still a net decrease. And what about speed awareness courses? A study in 2018, conducted for the Government by Ipsos Mori, found that drivers who had taken a speed awareness course were 23% less likely to be caught speeding for six months afterwards, which fell to 7% after three years.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, said: “I can say, hand on heart, that most rides I’ve ever taken, if not all, have involved exceeding a speed limit at some point. I’d also be honest if I said that the main aim has always not to be caught. I learnt my lesson early, in 1980, when I got 3 points for doing 55 in a 30 limit, when I got radared by an officer in Oxford. When asked if I had anything to say, I just shook my head, no excuses. If there was any mitigation, it was that I was on my Mk1 Lemon, after riding from London. 55 mph felt like nothing, still in 5th, it was ticking over. Lesson learnt, change down in towns!”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image courtesy of Peter Henshaw