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The UK roads with the most reported speeding offences

Road Angel

5 Dec 2022

128,209 people were injured on UK roads last year.

About a quarter of these were caused by drivers driving at a speed that was inappropriate for the road [1]. That equates to 32,052 injuries that could have been prevented if people were travelling at the appropriate speed. Speed management is therefore important for road safety.  

Speed cameras are known to positively influence speed management and subsequently road traffic collisions (see the blog Speed Cameras: Friend or Foe?”), but sadly the distribution of speeding drivers is not uniform across the country: some roads are associated with greater numbers of speeding offences than others. Some roads can therefore be argued to be more dangerous than others. 

Last year, there were 1.74 million drivers caught driving beyond the speed limits on major routes in the UK. Indeed, 74% of all motoring offences are related to speeding [2]. There are promising signs that there is a general decrease in drivers speeding, given that 2.67 million speed limit offences were recorded in England and Wales in 2019 [3], which decreased to 1.84 million speed limit offences in 2020 [4]. These figures indicate that last year, there was a 35% and 5% decrease in speeding traffic offices compared to 2019 and 2020 respectively. 

Understandably, the lockdown measures provided exceptional circumstances for road safety, with traffic (that had increased reliably every year) being decreased to 2002 levels. Lockdown measures led to 297.5 billion vehicles miles being travelled in 2021, which is a notable decrease from 338.6 billion vehicle miles travelled in 2019 [5]. When considering speed offenses in proportion to traffic levels, the trend holds: speeding offences appear to have reduced between 2019 (0.0008% of all UK drivers) and 2021 (0.0006% of all UK drivers). The dramatic decrease of speeding offences in 2021 compared to 2019 levels, and sustained decrease beyond 2020 levels, suggests a positive trend in speeding behaviours that will continue. 

Despite a general decrease, speeding offences are still being recorded. These are distributed across the country, with the top ten sections of road with the highest prevalence of speeding offences recorded being shown in Table 1. Comparing the top ten sections of roads with the highest prevalence in 2021 with 2019 (to take into consideration the exceptional circumstances of 2020) provides insights about whether the general trend of decreased speeding is shown in the most problematic roads. 2019 figures are shown in Table 2

Table 1 - The 10 UK roads with the highest prevalence of speeding offences, 2021 [6].

Table 2 - The 10 UK roads with the highest prevalence of speeding offences, 2019 [7].

Once again, traffic levels must be taken into consideration to fully assess the proportion of drivers being caught speeding. For both years, the proportional level is equivalent, with the highest prevalence rate in each year corresponding to 0.00002% of all vehicles travelled. This information indicates that whilst speeding offences are generally decreasing, the prevalence on the most problematic roads remains constant.  

There are two questions that these figures provide: 

  1. What is encouraging drivers to comply more to the speed limits generally? 

  2. Why are the most prevalent roads for speeding offences not following the general trend in speed limit compliance? 

To answer the first of these questions, the implementation of speed limiting technology within the vehicles and change in penalty system is expected to have had an influence (see the blog Effectiveness of Policies to Reduce Drivers’ Speed”). Beyond this, the introduction of the driver retraining scheme in 2007 has demonstrated effective results, which drivers can opt for instead of receiving a fine and points.  

In this retraining scheme, drivers that have committed low-level speeding offenses may be eligible for retraining, in lieu of punishment. Drivers that participate in this scheme are 6-23% less likely to speed afterwards, depending on how long ago the scheme occurred (measured up to 3 years after the scheme for the driver), which is subsequently estimated to reduce the risk of an incident occurring by 14%. It also influences drivers’ attitudes, where there is a decrease of 30% in respondents that report a positive reason for speeding [8]. 

Road safety measures to reduce the intention for people to speed has been thoroughly explored and implemented, such as those explained above. However, speeding can also occur through lapses in concentration, which is considered an error (unintentional) rather than violation (intentional). Fortunately, there is a device on the market that alerts drivers to when they are speeding to avoid this driver error: the Road Angel Pure. The Pure achieves this by audibly notifying the driver whenever they are driving beyond the stated speed limits on the roads they drive upon. Not only does the Pure reduce the likelihood of an error, but a survey conducted by Road Angel in September 2022 indicated that all drivers perceived their speeding intentions across all speed limits to be reduced, with the subsequent finding that it reduced their distraction levels by preventing the need for drivers to look away from the road to check their speed. 

Answering the second of the questions posed above is more problematic as there could be properties of the roads themselves that are making speed limit compliance plateau on the most prevalent roads for speeding offences. This could be related to traffic levels being higher on these roads than other roads, so more potential for drivers offending. It could also relate to the external environment causing distraction, such as the lighting conditions and scenery that may not be relevant to other roads. Further analysis would be required to interpret these findings more comprehensively. 

One positive to consider is that the profile of all roads from 2021 differ from 2019. This means that the factors preventing increases in speed limit compliance on these roads are likely able to be changed easily. Another consideration is that the baseline figure stated is already low, meaning that the scope for improvement is less than for the statistic related to the general trend. Whilst any speeding offence is one too many, the low baseline figure is an encouraging sign of good driver behaviour.   

In sum, only time will tell if the improved figures are related to the depreciated traffic levels that are observed because of lockdown measures; we still have not reached the traffic levels that would be expected if lockdown had not happened. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. This includes promising signs that drivers are becoming more compliant with speed limits, which leads to better road safety. There are also promising signs that retraining is effective at not just altering driver behaviour, but drivers’ attitudes and intentions. Alongside this, technology is anticipated to further enhance road safety (see the blog VR-oom, VR-oom: a case for VR and driver safety”). With all this effort, it seems likely that the ten roads with the highest prevalence of speeding offences will differ in the years to come, both in terms of which roads are on the list and how many speeding offences are recorded.    


[1] Department for Transport (2022, 29 September). Reported road casualties Great Britain, annual report: 2021. Retrieved from,smallest%20increase%20compared%20with%202020 on 22/11/2022. 

[2] Department for Transport (2022, 16 June). Vehicle speed compliance statistics: data tables (SPE). Retrieved from on 22/11/2022. 


[3] Department for Transport (2021, 13 July). Vehicle speed compliance statistics for Great Britain: 2020. Retrieved from on 22/11/2022. 


[4] Department for Transport (2022, 16 June). Vehicle speed compliance statistics for Great Britain: 2021. Retrieved from on 22/11/2022. 


[5] Department for Transport. (2022). Road traffic statistics. Retrieved from on 22/11/2022. 

[6] Hull, R. (2022, 11 November). The most prolific speed cameras in the last year REVEALED: A40 cameras in London snared most drivers as 1.74m were caught speeding across the UK. Retrieved from on 22/11/2022. 

[7] Healy, J. (2019, 28 March). UK's top 10 worst roads for speeding motorists in 2019. Retrieved from on 22/11/2022. 

[8] Ipsos MORI (2018, May). Impact Evaluation of the National Speed Awareness Course: Final Report [PDF]. Retrieved from on 22/11/2022. 

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