Motorists should be punished for speeding even if they are just 1mph over the limit, Britain’s road policing chief said last night. In a dramatic warning of a huge crackdown on drivers, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said the days of the ‘soft’ treatment of offenders must come to an end.
He called for the scrapping of the 10 per cent ‘buffer’ over the signposted limit that most police forces allow, and also claimed that speed awareness courses were being used too widely. Signalling a radical departure from the status quo, Mr Bangham said the courses should be reserved for those only marginally over the limit.
Everyone else should get fines and points on their licence, and he added that traffic officers should stop being ‘apologetic’ for handing out speeding tickets – and speeders should stop ‘whingeing’ about being caught. However, critics warned such a hardline approach risked alienating motorists and making them feel ‘victimised’.
One MP said a zero tolerance policy would only ‘make criminals of good drivers’. Motoring chiefs warned that such a policy could even prove harmful – with drivers’ eyes ‘glued’ to their speedometers instead of the road. Recent research by some councils has suggested that lower speed limits of 20mph in town centres barely reduced driver speed – and in some cases had made roads more dangerous.
Mr Bangham is the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on road policy. His comments are significant because many chief constables will take their lead from him.
The West Mercia chief’s speech comes after figures showed a rise in road deaths. Current police guidelines state motorists should not be stopped if they are caught driving up to 10 per cent over the speed limit. They also are given an extra 2mph allowance above this level. This leeway, which also applies to those caught on camera, is equivalent to being allowed to travel at 68mph in a 60mph zone or 35 mph in a 30mph zone.