You’ll all be familiar with Honest John, whether from his 20 year stint as motoring agony columnist for The Daily Telegraph, or for HonestJohn.co.uk, the motoring website that helps consumers make informed choices about their cars … or, of course, from Car-tastrophes – 80 Automotive Atrocities from the past 20 years.
What you may not be familiar with, is that from today, a new speeding fine structure for UK motorists is in force. You can be forgiven for not knowing, as this little bit of law has slipped pretty quietly into legislature … and you’re not alone in your ignorance: Honest John surveyed visitors to it’s website, and found that 84% of respondents were unaware of the new fines structure.
The new structure allows a magistrate to set a fine that’s linked to an offender’s weekly take-home salary, and even minor offences can incur fines of up to 50% of this … major offences could see a fine of 150%. Here’s what Honest John found …
Eight out of ten motorists have no idea about new speeding fine structure
- Drivers caught for most serious cases of speeding could be fined 150% of their weekly income in England and Wales
- This means a motorist earning £50,000 a year would pay up to £355 for creeping over the limit, or £1000 for travelling 41mph in a 20mph limit
- New fines system doesn’t address driver distraction risks, says leading consumer motoring website
- 84% of British motorists are unaware of new speeding fines that come into force today
More than eight out of every ten British motorists are unaware of new speeding fines, which could see someone earning £50,000 pay a fine of £1000* for travelling 41mph in a 20mph limit, according to research carried out by leading consumer motoring website www.HonestJohn.co.uk
In a survey carried out by the website**, 84% of respondents said they didn’t know what the new sentencing guidelines – which comes into force today, Monday 24th April – meant, while more than half (56%) were completely unaware that the penalties for speeding were changing.
Under new rules laid out by the Sentencing Council, the changes mean that magistrates have the power to fine motorists by up to 150% of their weekly take-home income, while even minor offences can lead to fines of up to 50% of an offender’s weekly income. There will be a cap of £1,000 per offence, or £2,500 if it is committed on a motorway.
HonestJohn.co.uk’s Managing Editor, Daniel Powell, said:
“While most people agree that excessive speed has no place on our roads, and that greater deterrents are likely to reduce the amount of deaths and injuries related to speeding, the new fines policy appears to have entered the law almost unnoticed.”
The new speeding fine structure gives judges and magistrates the power to fine motorists up to 150% of their weekly income for the worst speeding fines, or up to 50% of their income for creeping over the limit, within 10mph of the prevailing maximum.
While the new rules set the bar for speeding fines, there are no plans to remove the option of Speed Awareness Courses for first time minor offenders. At present, those caught speeding by a small amount are frequently offered a half-day awareness course in lieu of points on their licence, with the courses costing the same as the equivalent fixed penalty. How these will be charged under the new system is as yet undefined.
“While the new fines are clearly a deterrent, the bigger issue here is that prevention is better than cure,” added Powell. “One very real concern is that, while speeding is easier to police, there are greater road safety concerns attached to driver distraction than creeping slightly over the speed limit.
“If sentencing guidelines for speeding are heading this way, then in an era of more connectivity behind the wheel, we should be addressing concerns around mobile phone use, in-car app and sat nav distractions in much the same way. Harsher fines are a deterrent, but we can’t help but think a better, more modern approach to driver education would have a greater influence on road safety.”
* Fines based on individuals with a standard tax code of 1150L. Take home pay will vary depending on personal circumstances
** Sentencing guidelines survey carried out via www.HonestJohn.co.uk on an independent panel of British driving licence holders aged 18-84 on April 19, 2017.