A1) There are different speed limits for cars, vans, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and towing vehicles on different types of roads and you must not drive faster than the speed limit for the road and your type of vehicle.
Details of the national speed limits can be viewed here.
It should be noted that local councils may set their own speed limits in areas where there is a particular need. For example, there could be a 20 mph zone in a built-up area near a school or a 50 mph (rather than 60 mph) speed limit on a stretch of road with sharp bends. Local limits must be clearly signed.
A2) In 2018, 46 per cent of cars and 47 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit (70 mph) on motorways in free flow conditions. 11 per cent of cars and 12 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit by 10 mph or more in free flow conditions. Compliance with the speed limit on motorways by articulated HGVs in 2018 was very high, with only 1 per cent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit.
Across all road types and in free flow conditions, national speed limit single carriageways had the highest level of speed limit compliance for cars in 2018 with only 10 per cent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit (60 mph). For other classes of vehicles, compliance with speed limits on this type of road is lower with 36 per cent of short buses (under 12m), 36 per cent of rigid HGVs and 20 per cent of articulated HGVs exceeding the speed limit.
52 per cent of cars and 53 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit on 30 mph roads in free flow conditions. For the larger-sized vehicle types, there were also high levels of speed limit exceedance, with 46 per cent of rigid HGVs, 42 per cent of articulated HGVs and 36 per cent of short buses exceeding the speed limit in free flow conditions.
Vehicle speeds on 20 mph roads in the sample reflect patterns seen on other roads types for each vehicle class – HGVs and buses saw greater speed compliance than cars, vans and motorcycles. Under free flow conditions, 87 per cent of cars exceeded the speed limit at the 20 mph sites; 22 per cent exceeded the speed limit by more than 10 mph.
A3) The law is the law and police forces have the right to penalise anyone who is breaking the speed limit. However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) previously quoted the following guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) (now superseded by The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC)), though that guidance is no longer available either on the CPS website nor is it on the NPCC website.
The revised speed enforcement policy guidance issued by ACPO in 2013 suggests that enforcement will normally occur when a driver exceeds the speed limit by a particular margin. The particular margin is normally 10 per cent over the speed limit plus 2 mph. The guidance sets guidelines for when it would be appropriate to issue a fixed penalty notice or for the driver to attend a speed awareness course, and when it becomes appropriate to issue a summons. These are guidelines only and a police officer has discretion to act outside of them providing he acts fairly, consistently and proportionately.
In summary the guidelines are:
Speed limit: 20 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 24 mph
- summoning: 35 mph
Speed limit: 30 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 35 mph
- summoning: 50 mph
Speed limit: 40 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 46 mph
- summoning: 66 mph
Speed limit: 50 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 57 mph
- summoning: 76 mph
Speed limit: 60 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 68 mph
- summoning: 86 mph
Speed limit: 70 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 79 mph
- summoning: 96 mph
A4) Yes. Analysis of Home Office figures has revealed large differences between the police forces of England and Wales in the way they enforce speed limits and dispose of speeding cases, with the number of drivers being detected for speeding more than 225 times higher in some parts of England and Wales than others.
The figures show that 2,386,780 speeding offences were detected in England and Wales in 2018-19, a 4 per cent rise on 2017-18 when the number stood at 2,292,534. However, the analysis also shows that whilst West Yorkshire topped the list with 181,867 people caught speeding in 2018-19 (followed by Avon and Somerset (159,210) and the Metropolitan Police, including City of London (157,494)), at the other end of the scale Wiltshire Constabulary caught only 807 people speeding, Cleveland 11,937 and Derbyshire 12,256.
The variations across police forces will in part be down to geographical area, road type and traffic volume but they will also be created by local policing priorities. In Wiltshire, for example, all speed cameras were turned off in 2010.
There were also large variations in the way offenders were punished, with the proportion of speeding offenders sent on a speed awareness course showing widespread regional variation. For example, in North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Wales (excluding North wales) less than 1 per cent of offenders were sent on a speed awareness course whereas at the other end of the scale 60 per cent of offenders detected in Cleveland were sent on a course.
Detailed figures for all constabularies in England and Wales can be viewed here.
A5) The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme allows Chief Constables to offer eligible offenders who admit the offence of speeding an opportunity to attend a speed awareness course on the effects and dangers of speeding as an alternative to a speeding fine and penalty points.
The courses aims to influence the attitudes and behaviour of drivers by directly challenging attitudes towards speeding, offering motorists insight, awareness and understanding about their speed choices, and helps equip participants to change their behaviour.
A6) In 2018, the number of drivers that opted for a National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme speed awareness course rather than accept penalty points on their driving licence was 1,186,536.
Attendance increased yearly from 2010 to 2015, due to increasing numbers of police forces joining the scheme over this time and not solely to trends in offences being committed. Since 2016, the number of people attending a course has been largely unchanged.
A7) No. There are big differences in what drivers can expect to pay for speed awareness courses depending on where they live.
In 2017, analysis by the Press Association of data from the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme showed that speeding motorists attending courses in Northamptonshire paid £75, while those attending in Essex paid 32 per cent more (£99).
The average across the country was £88.90.
The Press Association study also showed that the amount police forces receive from each course increased from £35 to £45 in 2017. This money is described as a cost-recovery fee and goes towards paying for fees associated with administering the courses.
Source: RAC Foundation
A8) In a study commissioned by the Department for Transport and carried out by Ipsos MORI, it was found that targeting the behaviour of motorists through these courses reduced the likelihood of re-offending within six months by up to 23 per cent. The report also concluded that over a period of three years, taking part in the course was more effective at reducing speed re-offending than a fine and penalty points.
A9) Yes. There are a range of courses run under the auspices of the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme.
These include Safe and Considerate Driving Courses aimed at drivers who have been involved in a collision without serious consequences, where their driving has amounted to a lapse of concentration or an error of judgement and a National Motorway Awareness Course for motorists driving on motorways, who have been detected exceeding the active variable speed limit or who have passed through a mandatory Red X lane closure signal or committed infringements occurring on hard shoulders and emergency refuge areas.
A full list of the available courses can be viewed here.
A10) Analysis by the RAC Foundation shows that the number of road users who have completed a driver retraining course since their introduction in 2010 topped ten million in 2018.
In 2018, 1.45 million people accepted a place on one of the eight courses sometimes offered by police as an alternative to a fine and points for more minor offences.
This data suggests that, astonishingly, as many as one in four drivers has now been sent back to the classroom for breaking road traffic law
A11) More than 250 miles of roads in Great Britain are now being regularly monitored by average speed cameras.
Research carried out for the RAC Foundation by Road Safety Analysis in May 2016 identified at least 50 stretches of road which are permanently managed by the cameras with a total length of 256 miles under observation. Average speed cameras are also often used on a temporary basis to manage traffic through roadworks but these are not included in this study.
The 50 stretches range in length from just a quarter of a mile over Tower Bridge in London to 99 miles on the A9 between Dunblane and Inverness in Scotland.
A12) The use of average speed cameras has been found, on average, to cut the number of crashes resulting in death or serious injury by more than a third.
Research for the RAC Foundation by Road Safety Analysis found that on average – having allowed for natural variation and overall trends – the number of fatal and serious collisions decreases by 36 per cent after average speed cameras are introduced.
The average reduction in personal injury collisions of all severities was found to be 16 per cent.
A13) In November 2010 the RAC Foundation published a report – The Effectiveness of Speed Cameras: A review of evidence – into the effectiveness of speed cameras by Professor Richard Allsop of University College London. Amongst the main findings were that national decommissioning of speed cameras could result in about 800 extra people across Britain being killed or seriously injured each year at that time.
In 2011, government instructed that speed camera data going back to 1990, detailing accident statistics before and after fixed speed cameras were installed, should be made publicly available. The RAC Foundation commissioned work, which was carried out once again by Professor Allsop, to provide advice on interpreting this speed camera data. Overall, this new work – Guidance on Use of Speed Camera Transparency Data – reinforces the conclusions in the earlier report but also identifies a number of camera sites in the vicinity of which collisions seem to have risen markedly.
Analysis of the data in this work for 551 fixed speed cameras in 9 areas shows that on average the number of fatal and serious collisions in their vicinity fell by more than a quarter (27%) after their installation.
There was also an average reduction of 15% in personal injury collisions in the vicinity of the 551 cameras.
The estimates for collision reduction were made allowing for the more general downward trend in the number of collisions in the 9 areas in recent years, and for the effect of regression to the mean at sites where collision numbers were unusually high in the period before the cameras were installed.
However the research also highlights 21 camera sites (in these areas) at which, or near which, the number of collisions appears to have risen enough to make the cameras worthy of investigation in case they have contributed to the increases.
A14) According to information published by the Press Association in November 2017, only around half of the fixed speed cameras on British roads are switched on. In Scotland, less than 29% of fixed cameras are switched on.
The Press Association sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to all 45 police forces in the UK and their speed camera partnership. The 36 forces which responded with data had a total 2,838 cameras, of which 1,486 were active. Nine refused to disclose the information or failed to respond.
Cleveland, Durham, North Yorkshire and Northamptonshire said none of their fixed speed cameras were active.
All of the police forces that responded to the FoI request said they regularly sent out mobile speed cameras across their jurisdictions. Figures from these cameras were not included in the disclosures.
A15) Yes. The number of traffic police officers in England and Wales declined from 5,635 in March 2010 to 4,356 in March 2014.
Since 2015, data has been completed under a different framework, with different definitions. In particular, reclassification of roles within a force can lead to fluctuations in the number of officers in a particular role. This is particularly apparent for the Metropolitan Police Service (where figures have risen markedly). Latest figures for 2016 show there were 4,934 traffic police officers but these figures are not directly comparable with earlier data.
A16) The latest estimates from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau are that there are around 1 million uninsured drivers on the UK roads.
A17) You must have motor insurance to drive your vehicle on a UK road and a wide range of measures are in place to prevent and enforce against uninsured drivers.
In 2011, the Government introduced the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) rules. These rules require all vehicles to either have valid motor insurance, or if a vehicle is not being used, to be registered with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) at the DVLA. Under the CIE scheme, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and DVLA work in partnership to continuously identify uninsured vehicles by systematically comparing DVLA vehicle records against motor insurance policies held on the Motor Insurance Database (MID).
The registered keeper of a vehicle that appears to be uninsured will be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL). This letter will advise them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and that unless they take action, they will receive a penalty from the DVLA. If, after receiving an IAL, a registered keeper fails to comply with the advice set out in the letter they can face:
- A fixed penalty notice of £100
- Their vehicle being clamped, seized and disposed of
- A court prosecution and a maximum fine of £1000.
In addition, the police use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to identify vehicles that appear to be uninsured. If a member of the public denies that their vehicle is uninsured, a police offer can liaise with Police Helpline Agents at the MIB to confirm whether a valid insurance policy is in place. The police have the power to seize any uninsured vehicle being used on a public road. There is a £150 removal charge for cars and light vans and a £20 per day storage charge. Vehicles not reclaimed after 14 days are disposed of by the police.
The police will also give drivers a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if they are caught driving a vehicle they are not insured to drive. Alternatively, if the case goes to court, an uninsured driver could also get an unlimited fine or be disqualified from driving and receive up to 8 points on their licence.
A18) The number of uninsured vehicles seized across the UK in 2018 was 132,804.
A19) Up to twelve million driving licence holders receive a penalty notice each year – the equivalent of one every 2.5 seconds.
This means as many as a third (30 per cent) of Britain’s 40 million drivers now receive a penalty notice annually.
The 12 million total is broken down broadly as follows:
- 8 million local authority parking penalties
- 2.5 million local authority bus lane and box junction penalties, etc.
- 500,000 late licensing and insurance penalties, etc.
- 1 million speeding and red-light penalties, etc.
The total of 12 million does not include the annual figure of 1.2 million drivers now undertaking a speed awareness course instead of receiving a penalty and points on their licences.
A further 200,000 drivers a year attend other types of courses having committed other types of offences.
Nor do the figures include the five million parking penalties issued to drivers on private land or fines imposed for not paying the charge at the Dartford Crossing.
Source: RAC Foundation
A20) A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is a prescribed financial penalty issued to a motorist as an alternative to prosecution. They can be issued for a limited range of motoring offences, such as speeding offences and using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. An FPN can be endorsable (accompanied by points on a driving licence) or non-endorsable (not accompanied by points on a driving licence).
In 2018, 2,482,956 FPNs (excluding those subsequently cancelled) were issued for motoring offences by the police in England and Wales (including police employed traffic wardens). This represents an increase of 3.8 per cent compared with the previous year. (Please note that this figure includes cases where a driver retraining course, such as a speed awareness course, was attended by the individual, as well as cases where an individual faced court action).
Of the 2.5 million motoring offences recorded in 2018 which resulted in an FPN or another outcome:-
- 882,660 cases resulted in the driver receiving an endorsable FPN (36 per cent);
- 116,816 cases resulted in a non-endorsable FPN (5 per cent);
- A driver attended a drive retraining course in 1,112,399 cases (45 per cent); and
- 371,081 cases resulted in court action (15 per cent).
The number of endorsable FPNs issued has remained fairly stable in recent years. However, the number of non-endorsable FPNs had fallen year-on-year from 2011 to 2017 although there was a small increase in the latest year from approximately 115,600 in 2017 to 116,800 in 2018.
Over four-fifths (85 per cent) of the motoring offences recorded were for speed limit offences (2,105.409), up 1 percentage point on the previous year (2,013,830). The number of speed limit offences has increased gradually year-on-year since 2011, and now stand at the highest level recorded. The majority (97 per cent) of speed limit offences were camera-detected in 2018, up one percentage point on the previous year
Careless driving offences (excluding the use of hand-held mobile phone while driving) saw the largest increase (in percentage terms) of 20 per cent in 2018 compared with the previous year (from 15,334 to 18,467). Seat belt offences saw a 17 per cent increase from 18,467 to 21,626. Use of a hand-held mobile phone fell by 27 per cent from 52,993 offences to 38,601. This may reflect changing police priorities and activities.
A21) Yes. From 16 August 2013, careless drivers who put other road users at risk by committing offences such as tailgating or poor lane discipline face on-the-spot penalties.
See the DfT Press Notice for further information.
Over the two year period from August 2013 – when this measure was introduced – until August 2015, 17,468 people have been convicted of careless driving offences. (The figures come from a Freedom of Information request by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) to every police force in England and Wales. Some 33 out of 43 police forces responded to the IAM’s request).
A22) The number of defendants prosecuted for motoring offences in England and Wales increased from 670,000 in 2017 to 691,000 in 2018, with convictions and sentences increasing from 600,000 to 619,000. Just over half (52 per cent) of defendants prosecuted for motoring offences in 2018 were prosecuted for speed limit and vehicle insurance offences. The conviction ratio for all motoring offences was 90 per cent in 2018 and has been increasing year-on-year since 2013, when the conviction ratio was 85 per cent.
The offences with the largest increase in the number of defendants prosecuted was seen in ‘Speed limit offences’ (a 7 per cent increase, from 176,000 in 2017 to 189,000 in 2018, the highest in a decade and following an upward trend since 2011). There was also an increase seen in ‘Vehicle registration and excise licence offences’ (an 8 per cent increase, from 92,300 in 2017 to 100,000 in 2018, and increasing since 2014).
The offence with the largest decrease in the number of defendants prosecuted was ‘Careless driving offences (excluding mobile phone offences) (an 8 per cent decrease, from 13,300 in 2017 to 12,300 in 2018).
Sentencing trends for motoring offences have remained broadly stable, with an overall custody rate of 1 per cent (down from 2 per cent in 2008). Where an offender was sentenced to immediate custody in 2018, the average custodial sentence length was similar to 2017 at 8.1 months. The majority of offenders sentenced for ‘Causing death by dangerous driving’ and ‘Causing death by careless driving under influence of drink or drugs’ received immediate custody (a custody rate of 94 per cent and 95 per cent respectively in 2018).
The use of fines as the main sentence for motoring offences remained stable between 2017 and 2018, at between 94 per cent and 95 per cent, an increase of 5 percentage points over the last decade. The average fine amount has increased year on year, from £196 to £334 since 2008. The total number of offenders directly disqualified from driving increased 9 per cent in the latest year; from 58,100 in 2017 to 63,300. The total number of offenders endorsed without direct disqualification (i.e. receiving points on their licence only), increased by 1 per cent from 348,400 in 2017 to 351,000.
A23) In March 2019, 2,713,458 people had penalty points on the licences recorded at DVLA (out of a total number of 48,992,312 licences recorded at DVLA).
Source: GB Driving Licence Data
Endorsements stay on a driving record for 4 or 11 years depending on the offence. This can start from either the date a person is convicted or the date of the offence.
The endorsement is ‘valid’ for the first:-
- 3 years, for a 4-year endorsement
- 10 years, for an 11-year endorsement
Full details about penalty points (endorsements) can be viewed here.
A24) According to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live from the DVLA, around 14,500 people were caught driving whilst already banned in 2016.
A25) The annual Blue Badge survey, completed by local authorities in England, collates data on whether authorities have a policy for prosecuting misuse of the Blue Badge scheme and the number of prosecutions that occurred between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019. 66 per cent of local authorities (101 authorities) in England stated they have a policy, up from 89 authorities the previous year. Of those without a policy, 65 per cent are planning on implementing one in the future.
In England, there were a total of 1,432 prosecutions in 2018/19. Of the authorities which had a policy for prosecuting, 61 per cent prosecuted individuals for misuse of Blue Badges. The remaining 39 per cent had no prosecutions despite having a policy. There were 983 prosecutions in London (69 per cent of the total number of prosecutions made in England).
Similar to last year, the majority of prosecutions (99 per cent) in England were targeted at a non-badge holder using another person’s badge.
A26) The Department for Transport’s Statutory Guidance to local authorities on the civil enforcement of parking contraventions can be viewed here.
A27) A map and list of the local authorities outside London who have civil parking enforcement powers can be viewed here.
A28) In 2016/17, the total number of parking Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued by local authorities in England and Wales (excluding London) was 4,737,306. This is a 6 per cent increase over 2015/16 when 4,472,108 parking PCNs were issued.
The number of Bus Lane PCNs issued in 2016/17 was 1,423,764. This is an increase of around 22.5 per cent compared to the 1,162,011 PCNs issued in the previous year.
In addition, Welsh local authorities also issued 30,830 PCNs for moving traffic offences in 2016/17.
The number of parking PCNs appealed to the tribunal dropped by around 7.7 per cent to 11,757 compared to 12,734 in 2015/16. The rate of appeal against parking PCNs was 0.25 per cent in England and 0.23 per cent in Wales. The proportion of appeals allowed by the adjudicators (including those not contested by the council) was 56 per cent in England and 57.3 per cent in Wales.
Full details relating to the various PCNs that were issued, and appeals made to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, can be seen in the Tribunal’s Annual Statistics Report.
In 2018/19, the total number of PCNs (across the full range of traffic and parking offences) issued by London Boroughs and Transport for London was 5,958,048. This is around a 6 per cent increase compared to a total of 5,616,402 PCNs issued in 2017/18.
Source: London Councils
In 2017/18, 36,218 appeals against PCNs issued by London local authorities and Transport for London were determined in the reporting period (this figure includes appeals lodged in the previous year but determined in the reporting year) by the Environment and Traffic Adjudicators. 17,584 appeals were allowed, of which 9,396 were not contested. 18,634 appeals were refused.
Full details of the appeals determined by appeal type (parking, bus lane, moving traffic, London lorry control and litter and waste) can be viewed in the Annual Report.
A29) In 2016/17, 2,475,152 PCNs were issued by the Secretary of State for Transport for the Dart Charge scheme. This is a decrease of 7.6 per cent from the 2,678,438 PCNs issued in the previous year.
The number of PCNs referred to the Tribunal from the Dart Charge scheme increased by 136 per cent from 8,904 to 21,017, despite a fall in the number of PCNs issued. The rate of appeal for PCNs issued from the Dart Charge scheme increased by 166.7 per cent from 0.3 per cent to 0.8 per cent. The number of appeals allowed (including those not contested) against PCNs issued from the Dart Charge scheme increased by 188.9 per cent from 4,201 to 12,135.
A30) Parking debts were passed on to bailiffs by local authorities on nearly 1.1 million occasions in 2018/19 – a 21 per cent like-for-like increase on the same period in 2016/17.
Source: Money Advice Trust
A31) RAC Foundation analysis of DVLA data shows that in the last financial year (2018-19) 6.8 million sets of vehicle keeper records were released to car parking management companies. Almost all of these will have been used to send penalty charges to motorists who are deemed to have infringed parking rules in private car parks.
The 6.8 million figure is the highest ever supplied by DVLA and is 20 per cent higher than the 5.65 million sets of records released to parking firms in the previous financial year.
The charges levied by firms for contraventions such as overstaying can be as much as £100 suggesting that, in principle, parking firms could be demanding up to £680 million from drivers on an annual basis.
In the last 13 years more than 33 million vehicle keeper records have been obtained by parking firms from the DVLA, more than half of them in the past three years alone.
Source: RAC Foundation
Latest figures show that private parking firms are on course to issue nearly two million more tickets on private land in this financial year compared with last, a rise of more than a quarter.
In the first half of 2019-20, car parking management companies sought 4.32 million sets of vehicle keeper records from the DVLA. If the rate at which private parking firms access data from the DVLA remains at this level, then they are likely to issue 8.6 million tickets by the end of 2019-20. This would be 26 per cent more than the 6.8 million tickets issued in 2018-19.
The data suggests tickets are now being issued at the rate of at least one every four seconds.
Source: RAC Foundation
A32) Between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018, POPLA received 67,122 appeals and decided 50,082.
Of the appeals decided, 11,447 appeals were allowed and 38,635 refused.
In addition to the appeals decided, parking operators decided not to contest 15,562 appeals. This means that of the appeals that completed the POPLA process (65,644), 27,009 resulted in cancelled parking charges – 41 per cent of all processed appeals.
Source: POPLA Annual Report 2018
A33) Since the congestion charging scheme was introduced in London in 2003, £120,968,255 of congestion charge fines have not been paid by foreign embassies. (Figures correct at 30 September 2019).
The United States have the greatest amount of unpaid fines, owing a total of £12.758 million. They are followed by Japan (£8.771 million) and Nigeria (£7.275 million).
83 diplomatic missions owe more than £100,000 in fines and overall, 145 diplomatic missions owe fines.
Source: Transport for London
A34) Over the course of the 2018/19 financial year, 1,664,219 car practical driving tests were conducted. This was about 3 per cent lower than the 1,718,519 practical driving tests conducted in the previous financial year.
The pass rate was 45.8 per cent, the lowest pass rate since 2008/09.
Source: Department for Transport table DRT0101
A35) Yes. The driving test changed from Monday 4 December 2017 and now includes following directions from a sat nav and testing different manoeuvres.
The changes introduced include:-
- Increasing the Independent driving part of the test to 20 minutes
- Following directions from a sat nav
- Changing the reversing manoeuvres
- Answering a vehicle safety question while the candidate is driving
Full details can be viewed here.
A36) Yes. From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers can take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. This change does not extend to learner motorcylists.
Learner drivers will need to be:-
- accompanied by an approved driving instructor
- driving a car fitted with dual controls
Full details can be viewed here.
A37) The legal alcohol limit for drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is:-
• 80 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (80mg/100ml), or
• 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or
• 107 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine
In March 2011 the Government announced it would not be following the advice of the North Review on Drink and Drug Driving Law and reducing the current drink/drive limit from 80mg to 50mg.
The position is different in Scotland where a new legal alcohol limit was introduced on December 5 2014. Here, the limit is:-
• 50 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (50mg/100ml), or
• 22 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or
• 67 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine
A38) Yes. The RAC Foundation is amongst a coalition of road safety charities, emergency services and health groups who have called on MPs to reduce the drink driving limit in England and Wales.
The call comes after statistics show no progress has been made on drink driving since 2010, with 240 deaths and more than 8,000 casualties reported each year.
England and Wales have one of the highest drink-drive limits in the world. Set at 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, it is greater than the rest of Europe (with the exception only of Malta), as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Government of Malta announced recently plans to lower the drink-drive limit to 50mg in a new National Alcohol Policy to reduce harm.
Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg in December 2014, and police figures showed a 12.5% decrease in drink-drive offences in the first nine months. Northern Ireland is set to introduce before the end of 2018 a two-tier drink drive limit, with the general drink-drive limit down to 50mg/100ml, in line with Scotland, and an even lower limit for new and professional drivers.
A39) It is estimated that had the drink drive limit been lowered from 80 to 50mg/100ml at the beginning of 2010, then in every year between 2010 and 2013 about 25 lives would have been saved and 95 people saved from serious injury.
The estimates come from research by Professor Richard Allsop in his report Saving Lives by Lowering the Legal Drink-Drive Limit. The work was jointly commissioned by the RAC Foundation and PACTS.
A40) You could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine if you’re found guilty of drink-driving. The actual penalty you get is up to the magistrates who hear your case, and depends on your offence.
Drivers who drive, or attempt to drive, while over the legal alcohol limit face penalties of:-
• up to 6 months in prison
• an unlimited fine
• a minimum of 12 months’ disqualification (3 years for a second offence within 10 years)
Full details of all the penalties that could be incurred through drink-driving can be viewed here.
A41) If you have been found guilty of a drink-drive offence and your ban is for 12 months or more, you can be offered a rehabilitation course to reduce your driving ban. The ban is usually reduced by a quarter provided the course is completed within a certain time.
Further details can be viewed here.
A42) Excluding the four forces who were unable to provide complete data, there were 320,988 breath tests undertaken in 2018, representing a fall of 2 per cent when compared with 326,221 breath tests carried out in 2017 (excluding 4 forces who could not supply full breath test data for 2017). This fall continues the downward trend seen since the peak of 670,023 breath tests in 2009 (also excluding the 4 forces who could not supply data for 2017).
The number of positive or refused breath tests in 2018 represents 15 per cent of the total number of breath tests, the highest proportion since 2007. The proportion of breath tests that were positive or refused gradually fell from 19 per cent in 2003 to 10 per cent in 2013 and remained stable until 2014. From 2014 to 2018 there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of breath tests that were positive or refused, from 11 per cent to 15 per cent.
A43) Yes. There are two laws that relate to drug driving. It is illegal to drive if either:
- you are unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs
- you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving)
The drug driving law was strengthened in 2015 to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers. The new offence of driving with a specific controlled drug in the body above that drug’s accepted limit was introduced as under the previous legislation it was often difficult to prove a particular drug impaired a driver’s actual driving ability.
There are now limits in place for legally driving while taking eight prescription drugs and eight illicit drugs. (Amphetamines are treated differently). The limits can be viewed here.
If you are taking prescription medicines, you can legally drive while taking these medicines in accordance with instructions from a healthcare professional or whilst sticking to recommended dosages and they do not impair your driving in any way. If you are using above the standard prescribed dosage for these medicines and driving, you could be breaking the law. If you are unsure the best thing you can do is contact your local GP.
Further information on drug driving can be viewed here.
A44) Yes. It is illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle.
The use of hands-free mobile phone access, such as a bluetooth headset, voice command, a dashboard holder or mat, a windscreen mount or a built-in sat nav, is permitted while driving but you must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. The police can stop you if they think you are not in control because you are distracted and you can be prosecuted. The device must also not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.
The law still applies to you if you are:-
- stopped at traffic lights
- queuing in traffic
- supervising a learner driver
You can use a hand-held phone if either of these circumstances apply:-
- you are safely parked
- you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
Further information can be viewed here.
A45) Yes. The Government has confirmed it will close a legal loophole which has allowed drivers to escape prosecution for hand-held mobile phone use while behind the wheel.
At present, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text. However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as lawyers have successfully argued this activity does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.
The revised legislation will mean any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
See here for further details.
A46) The RAC Report on Motoring 2019 found that 23 per cent of all drivers – the equivalent of just under 10 million motorists – confess to making or receiving calls on a handheld phone while they are driving, at least occasionally. Among drivers aged between 17 and 24, this rate is 51 per cent.
Meanwhile, 17 per cent of all drivers – and 35 per cent of under-25s – say they check texts, email or social media while driving, despite the heightened level of risk involved in looking away from the road, even for seconds at a time.
Only a small minority of drivers (15 per cent) follow the official government advice to put their phone in their glove compartment while driving. Most people either keep their phone in a pocket or bag (45 per cent), or put it on the seat or console next to them (25 per cent).
A quarter (24 per cent) of motorists say they usually leave their phones switched on with the sound on when driving, rather than putting the device on silent or switching to some form of safe-driving mode.
A47) In 2017, 1.1 per cent of drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving on weekdays in Great Britain. This compares to 1.6 per cent of all drivers observed using a mobile phone in the previous survey in 2014 in England and Scotland combined.
The rate of drivers observed using a mobile phone was higher in Scotland (2.0 per cent) than in England and Wales (0.6 per cent).
Rates of mobile phone use are slightly lower when restricting to car drivers only (1.0 per cent in Great Britain in 2017).
Drivers were more likely to be observed with a mobile phone in their hand rather than holding it to their ear. In 2017, 0.8 per cent of drivers were observed holding a phone in their hand compared with 0.4 per cent observed holding the phone to their ear.
A48) New, stronger penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving were introduced in March 2017.
You can now get a fixed penalty notice carrying a penalty of a £200 fine and 6 penalty points on your licence for using a hand-held phone when driving. New drivers who have passed their test in the last 2 years will automatically lose their licence
You could also be taken to court where you could face disqualification and a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or a bus).
You can get 3 penalty points if you do not have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle.
See here for further details.
A49) In 2018, 38,601 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This was a fall of 27 per cent on the 52,993 FPNs issued in 2017.
There has been a yearly fall in the number of FPNs issued for this offence since 2011 when 162,412 FPNs were issued.
A50) In 2019, the estimated rate of unlicensed vehicles in traffic in the UK was 1.6 per cent, compared with 1.8 per cent in 2017 and 1.5 per cent in 2015. (These statistics are based on observing registration marks of vehicles in traffic via a roadside survey carried out at 256 sites across the UK in June 2019).
The majority of unlicensed vehicles in traffic are in the Private and Light Goods vehicle tax class, accounting for 89 per cent of all licensed UK vehicles. Rates of evasion in UK traffic were relatively low for both the Goods vehicle (0.8 per cent) and Bus (0.5 per cent) tax classes in 2019. The evasion rate in traffic is highest for motorcycles at 3.8 per cent.
The latest estimates also indicate that 1.6 per cent of vehicles in the active vehicle stock were unlicensed in the United Kingdom. This corresponds to 634,000 vehicles, down from 755,000 vehicles in 2017.
The estimated rate of VED evasion in the UK would correspond to around £94 million in lost tax revenue over a full year (about 1.5 per cent of the total due). However, some of this will have been recovered through DVLA enforcement activity or through vehicle keepers paying arrears of duty to cover the untaxed period.
A51) Firstly, check if the vehicle is taxed before you report it.
Then make a note of the vehicle registration number, make, model and colour of the vehicle and the street name, town and postcode where the vehicle is parked. You will not be able to report the vehicle without these details.
You can then report the vehicle online. Your report is anonymous and will be investigated.
Full details can be viewed here.
A52) Yes. You must wear a seat belt if one is fitted in the seat you’re using – there are only a few exceptions.
You are also only allowed 1 person in each seat fitted with a seat belt.
You can be fined up to £500 if you do not wear a seat belt when you are supposed to.
A53) In Great Britain, 96.5 per cent of all drivers were observed using a seatbelt on weekdays in 2017. This compares to 95.3 per cent of all drivers observed using a seatbelt in the previous survey in 2014 in England and Scotland combined. This rate was lower in England and Wales (96.0 per cent) than Scotland (97.3 per cent) in 2017.
In 2017, 93.1 per cent of front seat passengers and 90.7 per cent of rear seat passengers were observed using a seatbelt in Great Britain.
For car drivers, 98.6 per cent were observed using a seatbelt in Great Britain in 2017.
A54) You must make sure that any children in the vehicle you are driving are:
- in the correct car seat for their height or weight until they reach 135 centimetres tall or their 12th birthday, whichever is first
- wearing a seat belt if they’re 12 or 13 years old, or younger and over 135cm tall
You can be fined up to £500 if a child under 14 is not in the correct car seat or wearing a seat belt while you are driving.