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6 August, 2020

5 times you didn’t know you were breaking the speed limit

Have you ever thought you were driving comfortably inside of the speed limit only to look at your speedometer and realise you were terribly wrong? Well it happens more often than you might think to drivers and can be down to a variety of reasons.

1. Inaccurate Sat Navs

Sat Navs are great, they get you from A to B with minimal effort and have a bunch of extra helpful features. However, the speedometer on your SatNav isn’t perhaps as accurate as you think as USwitch reported 17% of users had been given incorrect speeds.

The speedometer can often be incorrect which can lead to you thinking you’re within the speed limit, when really you’re actually speeding. Although this feature can be useful, it should be used with caution and you should check the speedometer on your car for a more accurate reading.

2. Inaccurate speedometers in older cars

Having just said to use your car’s speedometer over what your SatNav tells you, this next point may seem a little hypocritical, but hear us out. Your car’s speedometer can be inaccurate as well.

Car’s speedometers measure speed via how fast your tyre rotates and therefore as tyres wear down over time and become smaller, they have to rotate faster in order to reach the same speed. Due to this, car speedometers are calibrated to read higher in order to account for any inaccuracy and make sure that a lower speed isn’t displayed to the driver – which could lead to speeding.

Older cars however, have notoriously less accurate speedometers due to the way speed was determined. This only applies to cars built before 1980, so you’ll likely be safe from encountering one of these.

3. Speed limits changing

It’s easy to miss a speed sign and end up speeding as you’re entering a new speed zone, so make sure you keep an eye out for any speed limit changes. You can usually spot whether a speed change is coming up based off of your surroundings. For example if you’re coming up to roadworks, school zones or residential areas, the limit is likely to change to 30mph and even if you’ve missed the sign, you’ll be able to recognise what the speed limit in the area is.

It can also take some time to adjust to the new speed limit as you change from another. More drastic speed changes such as coming off a motorway at 70mph to changing to 30mph can feel strange and take longer to adjust to, so making sure you’re conscious of your speed will help from breaking the speed limit as you adjust.

4. Perceptual skills – your feeling

Using your car’s speedometer is the most accurate way of keeping track of exactly what speed you’re travelling at. But many drivers also rely on their own perception or feeling in order to determine what their speed is. This can be an easy method of determining roughly what speed you’re travelling at, but is not a reliable way of staying within the speed limit.

There are also situations that can cause your perception to become even less accurate and often result in speeding. Drastic speed limit changes and situations that lack visual information such as driving at night or in fog often lead to underestimating your speed when relying on feeling to determine your speed.

5. Distractions

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re driving. Whether that’s getting into a heated debate with your passenger over what to get for dinner, or having a good look at Stonehenge as you pass it on a long drive.

When you’re being distracted and not paying full attention to the road, it’s much more likely that you may be breaking the speed limit without realising. Many experienced drivers can often gauge their speed through the feeling of their car, but whilst distracted this method becomes much less reliable.

Sometimes completely avoiding distractions just isn’t possible, so it’s worth being aware that you need to pay more attention to your speed and other hazards whilst any distractions are present.

Keep these things in mind when you’re driving and stop yourself from breaking the speed limit without realising!