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Keeping your licence clean

 Published 8th December 2023
Driver Guides 

We’ve all been tempted at some point. The road is quiet, the weather is good, and the urge to bury your right foot into the carpet becomes very hard to resist. Next time that urge strikes, it might be better to take a breath and let it pass rather than succumbing to temptation. Whether it’s the urge to see just how fast your car can go, or just a momentary lapse in concentration, watching your speed is an ideal way of keeping the pounds in your pocket and the points off your licence, according to road safety organisation GEM.

GEM was supporting Brake’s Road Safety Week with its theme of ‘Let’s talk about speed’.

We all know that reducing the speed we drive means fewer collisions on our roads, and when they do occur, it also reduces the severity of those collisions. Research shows that an overall 1mph reduction in speed results in an average 5% reduction in collisions. That’s a big difference from a relatively small change. Courteous drivers who choose legal, appropriate speeds do us all a favour by minimising the risk of a collision, especially when they are alert at all times and aware of leaving enough space in front of them.

Smooth, safe driving also means we’re doing our bit for the environment as well as keeping our licences clean and saving money from using less fuel. Cruising along the motorway at 80mph actually uses around 10% more fuel than sticking to 70mph, and a car driven at 70mph uses 15% more fuel than one at 50mph.

Choosing a speed that is both legal and appropriate for the conditions is a vital part of taking personal responsibility for our own safety – and that of others – when we are driving. This is not only a key part of reducing collisions and casualties on the roads, but it’s also an effective way of avoiding costly penalties.

The financial cost of a momentary lapse in concentration can be quite high. The cost of a moment of adrenaline-fuelled madness can be even higher, both in terms of fines and long-term consequences.

A fixed penalty ticket will result in three points on your driving licence and a fine of £100. In a lot of cases – unless you’ve already done one recently - a speed awareness course may be an alternative to the points. It won’t save you from having to fork out the £100 to cover the cost of the course but at least you could avoid the penalty points that can then affect your insurance costs at renewal time.

That’s fine for the momentary lapses of concentration when passing a speed camera but does nothing if you get caught driving at significantly higher speeds than the law allows.

Changes to the system of fines in 2017 means higher-end speeding offences now carry fines of up to 150% of your weekly salary, six penalty points, and/or a disqualification of between seven and 56 days. Wind up with one of those on your record and you could be looking at the loss of your job and totally unaffordable insurance premiums when your ban is finally lifted.

GEM is doing its bit by offering tips for drivers to ensure they stay within speed limits on every journey.

Top tips for safer journeys.

  • Don’t rush. Leave earlier and ensure you have plenty of time so there is no reason to speed in the first place.
  • Keep a close eye out for speed limit signs and watch for clues that the speed limit may soon be about to change.
  • Scan the speedometer frequently so you always know your own speed.
  • Always ask yourself: is my speed both legal and safe? After all, the speed limit is just that – a limit, not a target, and there will be circumstances when you will feel much safer driving below the limit. 

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