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Newly Qualified Drivers and Speed Awareness

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 12 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Road Car Speed Driving Safety Driving

Driving a car on the road with excessive speed is often cited as one of the most common causes of road traffic accidents and many newly qualified drivers, fresh from passing their driving test, find themselves on the wrong side of the law for driving far too fast.

Among those most likely to fall foul of a speeding charge, newly qualified drivers can suffer heavy penalties if caught driving too fast. In the UK, any driver who accrues 6 points on their licence within the first two years of driving can be banned from driving, and once their disqualification period is over, they have to take their test again before they can get their licence back.

In many cases, inexperience is the culprit. Often, newly qualified drivers don't understand fully how to read the road signs, or are not competent enough to look out for them when they are distracted by all the other elements of concentration that driving requires.

How Can You Help New Drivers to Figure Out the Speed, Quickly and Eeasily?

First of all, they need to look out for the signs.Most public roads should and will have signs that indicate what is the maximum speed for the road they are travelling on. It sounds painfully obvious, but so many people assume that they know what the speed limit is, it’s only when they are stopped and questioned by the police, or are caught on camera and fined for exceeding it that they find out they were wrong.

What if There are No Visible Speed Limit Signs?

If there are no road signs indicating the maximum speed for that particular road, then you need to look at the street lights. If there are street lights but no signs, then the speed limit is likely to be 30mph.

If there are no signs or street lamps then the road is subject to the national speed limit for cars and motorcycles which is 70mph if travelling on a dual carriageway, and 60mph on single carriageways. Anything towing a caravan or trailer, or a heavy goods vehicle will be subject to lower speed limits, detailed in the highway code.

If the above does not apply then there should be a series of speed limit signs, called 'repeaters' stationed at regular intervals along the road. They should tell you whether you should be travelling (for example) at 30mph, 40mph or 50mph.

Does Speeding Cause Road Accidents?

Driving with excess speed does cause road accidents, there is no denying that. However many motorists have objected to the rise in the use of speed cameras over the last few years, and they say it's not just because they have been caught out by them.

What these drivers object to is the assumption that motorists who keep within the speed limit are driving 'safely', which isn't always the case.

Driving At a Speed That is Safe & Appropriate For The Situation

Just because the limit is 30mph, it doesn't always mean that it's safe to drive at that speed. Take for example a driver on a 30mph road in thick fog and rain. It's unlikely to be safe for him to do that speed in those conditions.

Some motoring groups feel that the automation of speed offences - being caught by camera rather than a police officer - means that there is no discretion due to circumstances and road conditions, so the emphasis is placed on monitoring the speed that people drive at, rather than whether they are driving safely at whatever speed they are travelling. This has led to growing concern that people drive at speeds that are not appropriate, although they are 'under the limit'.

Someone weaving over the road because they are unable to see properly is just as dangerous, if not more so, than someone on a clear road who can see perfectly, exceeding the speed limit by a few miles per hour. However a speed camera would catch the latter, not the former. To be a good and responsible driver you should never assume that the speed limit is the speed that you should be driving at, you should gauge the situation and the circumstances and adjust your speed accordingly.

Only ever drive as fast as you are comfortable with, and never be bullied into speeding by someone who is 'tailgating' you or riding close behind you. If you have an accident, in the eyes of the law - you will be at fault.

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