Speed limits survey

2.8 million drivers don’t know the motorway speed limit

2.8 million drivers don’t know the motorway speed limit

2.8 million drivers don’t know the motorway speed limit

One in ten older drivers think the speed limit for cars on UK motorways is 80mph, according to research from the AA Charitable Trust.

Overall, 8% of drivers (equivalent to more than 2.8 million drivers) got the motorway speed limit incorrect with 7% thinking it was 80mph and 1% thinking it was 60mph. Men (9%) were twice as likely as women (4%) to incorrectly say the speed limit for cars on UK motorways is 80mph.

Drivers in Scotland and the North East (9%) were most likely to incorrectly say the national speed limit for cars on a motorway is 80mph.

The results come from an AA/Populus poll* of 22,827 motorists who were asked what they thought the national speed limit for cars and van derived cars was on various types of roads.

Young vs old

Younger drivers proved themselves far more aware of what speed limits are than older drivers:

  • 95% of 18-24-year-olds correctly said speed limit was 70mph on motorways compared to 89% of over-65s.
  • 74% 18-24-year-olds correctly said speed limit was 70mph on dual carriageways compared to 64% of over-65s.
  • 74% 18-24-year-olds correctly said speed limit was 60mph on single carriageways compared to 59% of over-65s. 

The only speed limit over-65s knew better than 18-24-year-olds was correctly identifying 30mph as the limit in a built up area with street lamps. However, although fewer 18-24-year-olds correctly identified this (93%) they erred on the side of caution with one in twenty (6%) saying they would assume the limit to be 20mph.

And four out of ten drivers could not identify the correct speed limit for a dual carriageway.

Regional

Regional figures showed nearly half of drivers in the North West (47%) and four out of ten (40%) Londoners do not know what the speed limit on a single carriageway is. Drivers in the East of England were most likely to correctly identify 60mph as the national speed limit for cars or car derived vans on a single carriageway.

Some confusion about the motorway speed limit for cars could well be down to the previous Transport Secretary floating the idea of raising the limit to 80mph

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust

Comment

Edmund King, director of the AA Charitable Trust, said: “It is astonishing that 2.8 million qualified drivers don’t seem to know the motorway speed limit is 70mph. Some confusion about the motorway speed limit for cars could well be down to the previous Transport Secretary floating the idea of raising the limit to 80mph.

“There is no reason why drivers shouldn’t be able to correctly identify the speed limit of dual carriageways and single carriageways. "

The lack of knowledge around limits just highlights the importance of keeping your driving skills up to date. This follows a previous AA study that showed that some 17 million drivers would struggle retaking their driving test.

There is further evidence of this is in tonight’s episode of Dangerous Drivers’ School, which shows how important it is for drivers to keep their speed in check and obey the limits.

Qualified drivers with serious driving problems are tackled by an expert team of AA Driving School instructors in the second series of Channel 5’s, Dangerous Drivers’ School, which started on Thursday 31 January at 8pm. The second episode will be shown on 7 February.

AA Driving School instructors have been filmed giving Drive Confident and Drive Smart lessons, which are run through the AA Charitable Trust.

Among the drivers taking part in the show are some famous faces (Rowland Rivron, Melvyn Hayes and Edwina Currie). Tonight’s episode shows former Apprentice star Kate Walsh tackle her aggressive driving, motorway-phobic Alan Baggley from Rotherham and speedy young driver Jade Hales from Essex.

To mark the launch of the Channel 5 series, the AA Charitable Trust has 2,000 FREE courses, like the ones taken on the show, available for nervous, lapsed or dangerous drivers.

National speed limits for cars

Vehicle Built up areas Single carriageways Dual carriageways Motorways
Cars and car-derived vans 30mph 60mph 70mph 70mph
Cars towing caravan/trailer 30mph 50mph 60mph 60mph

(updated 27 February 2013)

*Populus interviewed 22,827 aged 18+ on The AA/Populus online panel between 21 and 25 January 2013

www.populus.co.uk is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

 

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