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Stark variations to speed enforcement revealed as offences hit 13-year high

New analysis has revealed large differences in the way police forces enforce speed limits and deal with speeding cases as offences hit a 13-year high.

The DfT data shows speeding offences in 2016 were at a 13-year high although there have been some changes in data reporting.

New Department for Transport figures show that in 2016 the number of speeding offences leapt to 2.15 million – compared to 2.07 million in 2004 and 2.13 million in 2005. The volume of offences also represents a rise of over 30% from the total of 1.62 million in 2011 when the data was updated to include figures from drivers attending speed awareness course.

However, research by the RAC Foundation reveals a patchwork approach to detection, with Avon and Somerset constabulary detecting 184,654 speeding offences, while neighbouring Wiltshire – which is reported to have removed all their fixed speed cameras – detected just 989.

And punishment of offenders also showed wide variations. In Nottinghamshire, for example, just 1% of offenders were sent on a speed awareness course, whereas in Durham it was 62%.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said the figures indicated a need for rationale of the variations, but also for evidence as to “whether the more energetic enforcement regimes are correctly targeted and thereby delivering markedly improved road safety”.

IAM RoadSmart also commented on the figures, saying that although some of the increase in the volume of speeding offences has been caused by the change in reporting methods from 2011 onwards – putting offences at a six-year high when the figures are taken into account – speeding still remains a “major safety concern” and needs to be made as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Resources are still needed for education and publicity campaigns to drive home the message that road safety is as much about taking personal responsibility as it is about new methods of enforcement.”

The same DfT report also shows serious offences such as dangerous driving and careless or drunken driving have fallen from 276,000 to 179,000 over the last six years.

Neil Greig added: “This is a welcome fall but we are concerned that this may be more about the reduction in traffic police numbers rather than any fundamental change in driver behaviour.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.