Top tips for slowing down safely


16 October 2017

England and Wales' new speeding penalties have been introduced to increase road safety and discourage drivers with heavy right feet.

The new guidelines for magistrates have split speeding fines into three bands. The most serious penalties are in band C, which are imposed on drivers who significantly flout the speed limit, for example by driving over 51mph in a 30mph zone or over 101mph on the motorway. These start at a whopping 125% of a driver's weekly income and can be as much as 175%. If you only go a little above the speed limit, for example between 31 and 40mph in a 30mph zone, you will receive a band A fine, which is typically 50% of your weekly income.

There are a few ways to safely (and legally) avoid getting slapped with a fine.

And yes, they all involve slowing down…

Leave ten minutes early

Most people speed because they're in a hurry. Some simple time management will reduce your chances of inadvertently speeding. As well as giving yourself an extra ten minutes to reach your destination, it's worth checking your route on Google Maps before you set off. The app shows real-time data about road works and traffic jams, highlighting the road in orange and red where there's a problem, and suggests routes that avoid congestion.

Practise mindfulness

If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't let emotions get the better of you. Engage in a bit of light meditation. Keep your hands at ten and two, and breathe deeply. Think about the issue: how late are you likely to be, and what's the worst that could happen? Is it worse than being prosecuted?

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment. Instead of worrying about what might happen, concentrate on the task at hand. Focus on how the steering wheel and pedals feel, for example.

Manage expectations

If it's likely that you're going to be late, pick up your phone before getting behind the wheel. Explain that you're running behind schedule, and offer a more realistic time of arrival. Your client will appreciate the advance notice, as it means they don't have to wait around, and it means you can take your time and drive without stress.

Use cruise control

It's easy to slip over the speed limit without realising, especially when you're on the motorway. If you have a van with cruise control, turn it on when you reach the road's speed limit. You can relax a little while your van maintains the same speed. Just be sure to pay attention to the road, make sure you know when the speed limit changes, and be prepared in case you need to brake suddenly.

Install a speed limiter

Speed-limiting devices stop your van going above a certain speed, no matter how hard you press the accelerator. This is a useful option if you really have trouble sticking to the speed limit, or if you have a fleet of vans and want to ensure all your staff consistently stay under 70mph. Just remember to tell your insurer about any additions or modifications you make to your vehicle, otherwise you may invalidate your insurance.

With road rules changing year in, year out, it’s essential to keep up to date with road safety rules and regulations. To test your knowledge, take our How’s my driving quiz.