Organisation: Department for Transport (DfT)
Date of Publication: July 2021
Date Uploaded: 14 July 2021
The percentage of cars exceeding the speed limit rose on all road types during 2020 – as a result of lower traffic levels caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
That’s according to these government statistics which measure speed and compliance at sites where the road conditions are free flowing – for example roads with no junctions, hills, sharp bends, speed enforcement cameras or other traffic calming measures.
The stats show that in 2020, 53% of cars exceeded the speed limit on motorways, an increase from 50% in 2019.
They highlight a similar rise on National Speed Limit (NSL) single carriageways (up from 9% in 2019 to 12% in 2020) and on 30mph roads (up from 54% in 2019 to 56% in 2020).
The DfT says trends in speed limit compliance in 2020 coincided with the exceptional changes in road traffic caused by Covid-19 lockdowns.
For example between April and June 2020 – when the first national lockdown predominantly took place – 17% of cars exceeded the limit on NSL roads and 63% on 30mph roads.
The DfT adds that without the Covid-19 impact on traffic levels, it would expect speed limit compliance to have remained in line with previous years.
The figures also show that 87% of cars exceeded the speed limit on roads with a 20mph limit in 2020 – with 20% breaking the limit by more than 10mph.
While these figures may seem alarming, the DfT stresses that free flowing conditions are not typical of most 20mph roads and as a result, must be interpreted with additional caution.
DfT guidance suggests that 20mph limits are most effective when they have traffic calming measures.
Access the statistical bulletin via the gov.uk website: