Drivers face being fined and even prosecuted for creeping over the speed limit by as little as 1mph under plans being drawn up by police in some parts of the country. The proposal would result in tens of thousands more speeding tickets being issued and force drivers to keep a far closer eye on their speedometers.
Under the current system, contained in police guidelines, drivers are allowed a margin of error of 10% plus 2mph. That means, for example, that police won’t usually prosecute motorists travelling at up to 35mph in a 30mph zone. By the same calculation drivers travelling at up to 79mph on motorways are unlikely to be prosecuted.
The guidelines were introduced in 2000 to take account of the possibility of inaccuracy in speed cameras. They were also intended to reassure drivers that the system was fair, rather than simply a money-raising racket.
Now police in Scotland have announced that they are axeing the thresholds. From this autumn Scottish drivers going fractionally over the limit will receive formal warning letters. If they are stopped a second time, they will receive a £100 penalty notice and three penalty points or be reported for prosecution.
The new procedures, approved by the Scottish government, will be tested in a six-month pilot project. Scottish police — unlike those in England and Wales — have never disclosed the margin of error they use, although it is thought to be similar to that of the rest of the country. If the pilot is successful in reducing accidents, as police hope, it may be adopted by other forces in the UK.
The College of Policing, which issues codes of practice to forces in England and Wales, is due to review the speeding enforcement guidelines this year, including the 10% plus 2mph threshold.