Motorists now find speeding “less acceptable” than it was six years ago, according to new research out this week. The survey by IAM RoadSmart, the trading name of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found the number of people who deemed speeding on motorways acceptable had fallen since 2016.

The study, which was carried out as part of the organisation’s Safety Culture Report, quizzed 2,000 people at the end of 2021, asking them about their thoughts on speed. At that point, four in every 10 people questioned (42 percent) said they thought it was acceptable to drive at 80 mph on a British motorway – 10 mph above the maximum limit. In 2016, more than half of respondents said such behaviour was acceptable, with 56 percent of respondents sharing that opinion.

The number of people who think it’s acceptable to travel at speeds in excess of 80 mph has also fallen, although one in five still think that is okay. Some 21 percent said it was acceptable on a motorway, down from 28 percent in 2016.

Speeding Van

At the same time, “self-reported” speeding (where drivers admit to having broken the limit) is decreasing in urban areas. One in 10 people questioned in 2021 said they had broken a residential street’s 30 mph speed limit by travelling at 35 mph in the past 30 days. Back in 2016, that number was up at 17 percent.

Neil Greig, the director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said the downward trends were encouraging, but warned that more needed to be done to make speeding less acceptable to motorists. Those who continue to flout the law, he said, were clearly “not listening” to warnings or police messaging.

Speeding car activates electronic speed limit sign in Melbury Abbas village Shaftesbury UK

“Acceptability of speeding on motorways is still far too high but the downward trends of drivers’ opinions are a positive sign,” he said. “Actual speeding behaviour in towns and cities has also improved as more and more drivers appear to understand the link between speed and serious injury.

“Those who believe it is acceptable to drive at speeds greater than the limit are simply not listening to the warnings or taking notice of the frequent police messaging. Speeding is responsible for around 12 deaths each day on UK roads, and we clearly need to do more to educate drivers on the fatal consequences of speeding.”