Almost half of British motorists admit to speeding on country roads with a 60 mph limit, according to new research. The study commissioned by the RAC found 48 percent of drivers questioned said they had exceeded the speed limit on such roads at least once in the past year.

The annual survey of more than 3,000 UK motorists revealed eight percent of respondents regularly exceed the 60 mph limit on rural roads, while 40 percent had “occasionally” exceeded the limit on up to half their journeys using such roads. Due to the annual nature of the survey, the RAC also found the percentage of drivers who admit to speeding on rural roads has increased, up from 44 percent during the previous year.

However, the number of drivers who admit to speeding on motorways and high-speed dual carriageways, both of which have a maximum speed limit of 70 mph, was even higher. Some 60 percent of respondents admitted exceeding the limit either frequently or occasionally during 2022 – up five percentage points compared with 2021. It’s the highest percentage since 2017, when 66 percent of respondents admitted speeding on motorways.

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The number of drivers speeding on urban roads appears to be more or less unchanged, though, with 40 percent of drivers saying they have exceeded the 30 mph limit at least occasionally in 2022 – a reduction of one percentage point on 2021’s figure. And 46 percent admitted to exceeding the limit on 20 mph roads in 2022 – the same proportion as the previous year.

Of those who speed on motorways, 42 percent said they were simply travelling at the same speed as other motorists, while 32 percent of those who admitted to speeding on 60 mph roads used the same excuse. However, roughly half of drivers who speed in 20 mph zones say it is because the limit is inappropriate for the road, while 52 percent said they would be opposed to additional 20 mph limits being introduced in their area. But 48 percent believe 60 mph limits on unclassified rural roads should be reduced.

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The RAC has backed those calls, saying there were almost 12,000 collisions on 60 mph rural roads, with 514 people killed – more than on any other single type of road. That fatality rate of four percent was higher than on motorways, where a smaller proportion of collisions resulted in fatalities.

“The recent increase in the proportion of drivers admitting to speeding on 60 mph rural roads is extremely worrying as more people lose their lives every year in collisions on these roads than on any other,” said RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams. “It’s even more concerning that this figure is now back to the all-time high of 48 percent.

“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 60 mph rural roads by advising road authorities to reduce limits on the most dangerous stretches to more appropriate levels.

“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.”

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