36,000 drivers break speed limit on one road in 7 days

Police checks reveal two thirds of drivers monitored broke the limit

by Tony Farrelly   December 13, 2010  

Speeding car.jpg

Police speed checks on a stretch of road in Gateshead revealed that 36,000 drivers broke the speed limit on it in just seven days - two thirds of all the drivers whose speeds were monitored.

The road in to the Gateshead Metrocentre has a 30mph speed limit, 36,000 of the 48,000 drivers using the road during the speed checks broke the limit. 65 drivers were clocked at doing more than 60mph and nine topped 70mph on the centre's access and perimeter roads.

Special constables Kevin Thompson were involved in checking on motorists speeds, speakiing to Chronicallive.co.uk special constable Thompson said:

“Michael and I regularly patrol the Metrocentre road network and at peak times it astounds us that motorists will exceed the speed limit in such a manner,” Special Constable Thompson said.

“St Michael’s Way in particular attracts the most speeders.

“There’s a sharp, tight corner at the end where we’ve attended umpteen collisions because drivers have been exceeding the 30mph limit – luckily no-one has been killed or seriously injured.”

Measures are now being brought in to combat excessive speed including LED signs, new traffic islands and road markings. Establishing pinch points – using traffic islands and similar devices seems to be a favoured method among traffic engineers for slowing down traffic however it can put cyclists at risk as traffic is funneled through a narrowed gap in which many motorists still believe there is room to pass a bicycle – even when there isn't.

10 user comments

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Unless there's a breakdown of how many broke the limit by how much, the data's not really that useful. Apart from those 65 major speeders, the rest of the 36,000 could have been travelling at 31mph for instance.


posted by OldRidgeback [2516 posts]
13th December 2010 - 11:04

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31 mph is still over the limit though

posted by Pickypong [55 posts]
13th December 2010 - 11:51

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> Unless there's a breakdown of how many broke the limit by how much, the data's not really that useful.

To me part of the point is the typical "those darned cyclist breaking the law jumping red lights and riding on the pavements" conflicts with the typical motorist's response to speed restrictions. Either drivers are pro- or anti- law: they can not pick and choose which laws should be obeyed.

posted by zoxed [63 posts]
13th December 2010 - 12:23

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This is great road to pick if you want to be totally biased with your results. The roads around the metrocentre are very badly designed, typically being long stretches of dual lane with no shoulder (or any space for cyclists), random hidden junctions and punctuated with sharp corners. Its no wonder there are accidents.

Now you are quite right that going over the limit is wrong whatever the reason, but road designs like this tempt drivers into going faster so they need reminding of speed limits, Around the majority of the road there is little signage and what is there is those tiny small circles on lamp-posts.

But why they need a study to tell them this i dont know? its been obvious for years.

STATO's picture

posted by STATO [449 posts]
13th December 2010 - 12:25

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The numbering is highly likely to be inaccurate as well, I'm willing to bet it'll be the same few thousand drivers breaking the speed limit every day, not 36000 individual drivers.

posted by crazy-legs [632 posts]
13th December 2010 - 12:33

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Picky - yep 31mph is over the speed limit but this is inside the levels allowed for overspeeding - a 10% error is permitted on the speed measurement systems in a vehicle as part of the MOT. A driver has to travel at 34mph or over in a 30mph limit to risk being booked for speeding.

Like crazy legs says, it's likely many of those speeders are repeat offenders. And as also mentioned by STATO, the design of the road network is partly to blame. It has to be said that poor road design is a major contributor to accidents right across the UK.

When you look at the details the direction of the story falls apart and some of the blame clearly lies with the local road authority in the first place anyway for having commissiioned such a badly thought out network.


posted by OldRidgeback [2516 posts]
13th December 2010 - 13:30

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The only person responsible for a vehicle speeding is the driver of the vehicle.

How does the direction of the story fall apart? 75% of the journeys taken were in excess of the legal limit. Showing the majority of drivers either don't care about the law or don't pay enough attention when driving.

The 10% argument is also nonsense - if you know your speedo may have a 10% error, should you not be driving at the limit less 10%?

posted by adscrim [131 posts]
13th December 2010 - 15:35

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The 10% argument is not nonsense. Since the MOT only requires accuracy to within 10%, the police do not enforce speeding in a 30 limit unless the driver is doing 34 or more. And as a vehicle with a speedo error of anything from 0-10% will pass its MOT, the vehicle owner will not know whether the vehicle has an error or not, unless the vehicle has been calibrated more accurately - and I have never known anyone who has done so with any vehicle they have owned - other than those trapped for speeding (and the accuracy of some roadside speed measurement devices used by the police leaves a lot to be desired).

The piece says that 36,000 drivers broke the law. However on rereading the article it seems apparent that there were 36,000 instances of people breaking the law, which is not the same thing. It's entirely likely that many of those 36,000 were repeat offenders, in other words a lot less than 36,000 drivers.

We don't know from the article how many people were breaking the law sufficiently to have warranted a speeding charge. Most (but not all) speed measurement devices are more accurate than on-board speedos in cars so it is statistically likely/entirely possible that a high percentage of vehicles exceeding 30mph were travelling at under 34mph and would not have been charged for speeding. While technically they may have been exceeding the speed limit, they would not have been charged with such an offence for driving at speeds of 31-33mph.

We also don't know whether one of the more questionable speed measurement methods was used or if more accurate technology was employed.

In other words, the story falls apart as the data is not substantiated.


posted by OldRidgeback [2516 posts]
13th December 2010 - 17:06


This 10% over as a legal limit is an urban myth. Vehicle construction and use regulations require a vehicle speedometer accuracy to be in the range of -0->+10%. The implications are that it must never under-read - for obvious reasons - but may over-read.
If someone is caught doing 31mph chances are that the speedo is displaying 33 or 34 mph.
Almost everyone at some time will speed the choice we as road users have to make is where, when and by much we choose to break the speed limit. I drive around most of the time at 28mph (displayed speed) in a 30 zone however have been know to get up to 37 -38mph without paying much attention.
Going a few mph slower does not add that much to your journey time try it you might like it.

posted by jayme [120 posts]
13th December 2010 - 17:29

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Jayme - I'm not commenting on the pros and cons of driving on or at the speed limit. That goes without saying. the fact is, the story on the Metro centre does not bear close scrutiny.


posted by OldRidgeback [2516 posts]
13th December 2010 - 17:33

1 Like