The recent increase in the percentage of drivers admitting to speeding on 60mph rural roads is “extremely worrying”, says the RAC.
Nearly half (48%) of the 3,102 drivers questioned for the RAC Report on Motoring say they have driven faster than the limit in the past year on these roads – up from 44% in 2021 and matching the highest figure ever seen in 2016.
Of those who admit to the offence, 8% say they do so frequently, while 40% say they have done it occasionally on up to half of their journeys.
Data shows that 514 people were killed in a total of 11,827 collisions on 60mph non-built-up roads in 2021 – a fatality rate of 4%, which is higher than on motorways.
The RAC wants to see the Government advise local authorities to reduce limits on the most dangerous stretches of rural roads “to more appropriate levels”.
This idea is backed by 48% of respondents.
On motorways and high-speed dual carriageways, the UK’s fastest roads, as many as 60% of drivers say they have broken the 70mph limit, either on most journeys (16%), or on up to half of their trips (43%) in the last 12 months. This is up by five percentage points compared to 2021 when 55% admitted to having exceeded the limit. The 60% figure is the biggest percentage seen by the RAC since 2017, when 66% owned up to this. However, it is still down on the record of 70% reported in both 2015 and 2016.
The percentage who speed on urban roads has changed very little in the past 12 months with 40% of drivers saying they have exceeded the 30mph limit at least occasionally, compared to 41% in 2021, while 46% have broken the limit on 20mph roads, a figure unchanged on the year before.
Simon Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “The recent increase in the proportion of drivers admitting to speeding on 60mph rural roads is extremely worrying as more people lose their lives every year in collisions on these roads than on any other.
“Drivers sometimes forget or underestimate the role speed plays in fatal and serious collisions as they tend not to see it in the same light as offences like drink or drug-driving or talking on a handheld phone.
“While the number of fatalities on our roads is no longer falling, we certainly don’t want to see an increase in deaths. We think the Government should address the issue of fatalities on 60mph rural roads by advising roads authorities to reduce limits on the most dangerous stretches to more appropriate levels.”
“What’s more, although motorways are statistically the UK’s safest roads, the abundance of digital signage on them could easily be used to make to try to make them even safer by reminding drivers of the dangers of breaking the speed limit.”