Six in 10 British motorists admit that they’re willing to break the speed limit in spite of new, higher fines, according to new research.

A survey of more than 2,000 drivers discovered that 61 percent were happy to speed, with the average motorist knowingly breaking the limit at least three times per journey.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, 69 percent of respondents said they had been involved in at least one speed-related accident since passing their test, while two-thirds (66 percent) said they thought drivers are more reckless than they were 10 years ago.

The research also showed that many drivers thought there were several ‘legitimate’ reasons for breaking the speed limit.

Almost half (47 percent) thought driving to A&E would justify speeding, while more than a third (36 percent) thought transporting a passenger in labour would be an acceptable excuse. Meanwhile, seven percent thought needing the toilet would be justification and three percent thought running late for a meeting was a good enough reason.

Some 13 respondents also said that legitimate reasons would include being on an empty road when it was perfectly safe, while one went as far as to suggest that escaping the police would be a good excuse.

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However, it seems that motorists’ scant regard for speed limits can’t be solved with increased signage, as a significant numbers of drivers failed to correctly identify several common speed-related signs.

More than half (55 percent) of those quizzed could not identify the sign that shows the end of a 20mph zone and the start of a 30mph limit, while an equally worrying 33 percent did not know the meaning of the national speed limit applies sign, which comprises a white circle with a black diagonal stripe.

Louis Rix, director of CarFinance 24/7, which commissioned the study, said: ‘Despite good intentions from the government in increasing speeding penalties, it seems the prospect of a fine isn’t a strong enough deterrent for drivers. In fact, many seem to be justifying the fine as “payment”, giving drivers a pass to speed and break the law.

‘This, coupled with the fact that a significant number of drivers are unable to identify basic speed-related traffic signs, is contributing to a more potentially unsafe driving environment.

‘We urge drivers to refresh their knowledge of common traffic signs and “speed down” – obeying the rules of the road keeps us all safer in the long run.’