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Speeding is a traffic offence that can be easily committed but for a lorry driver, it can have more serious consequences than a simple penalty ticket. In this guide, we’ll cover speed limits in the UK, speeding penalties and a Traffic Commissioner audit.

As HGVs in the UK have been subject to a mandatory 56 mph (90 km/h) limiters for years, one could suspect that speeding is not an issue for lorry drivers.

What is a Driver Conduct Hearing?

However, truckers are regarded as ordinary drivers, and their vocational licence is regulated by the Traffic Commissioner. This means if a professional HGV driver is caught speeding (whether in an HGV or a car), they face not only criminal proceedings such as a Fixed Penalty Notice, or Magistrates Court summons, but also regulatory action by the Traffic Commissioner.

Such speeding infringements can result in a Driver Conduct Hearing, at which the Traffic Commissioner questions the driver about the incident and considers whether they should take action against the professional driver’s licence.

While someone might think what happens when driving a lorry should matter only at the workplace, this is not true in the eyes of the law. In deciding what action to take against the holder of a vocational licence, the Traffic Commissioner takes into account all the driver’s conduct “as the driver of a motor vehicle.” This means if the driver has a history of speeding with their passenger car, it is also taken into account.

The Traffic Commissioner has the power to suspend or revoke a driver’s professional licence.

Speeding with a lorry is taken seriously by the UK Government. Consequently, a driver with 2 speeding penalties can be called for a Driver Conduct Hearing.

For example, the Smith-Bowyer-Clark road transport lawyers firm described a case whereby a driver had committed 2 speeding offences in a company HGV, travelling at 55mph in a 40mph area on both occasions. He was called to a driver conduct hearing before the Traffic Commissioner. The Statutory Document suggested a 6-week suspension, but the Traffic Commissioner was persuaded to reduce this to 2 weeks.

 National Speed Limits in the UK

Built-up areas mph (km/h) Single carriageways mph (km/h) Dual carriageways mph (km/h) Motorways mph (km/h)
Cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles 30 (48) 60 (96) 70 (112) 70 (112)
Cars, motorcycles, car-derived vans and dual-purpose vehicles when towing caravans or trailers 30 (48) 50 (80) 60 (96) 60 (96)
Buses, coaches and minibuses (not more than 12 metres overall length) 30 (48) 50 (80) 60 (96) 70 (112)
Buses, coaches and minibuses (more than 12 metres overall length) 30 (48) 50 (80) 60 (96) 60 (96)
Goods vehicles (not more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) 30 (48) 50 (80) 60 (96) 70 (112) 60 (96) if articulated or towing a trailer
Goods vehicles (more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) in England and Wales 30 (48) 50 (80) 60 (96) 60 (96)
Goods vehicles (more than 7.5 tonnes maximum laden weight) in Scotland 30 (48) 40 (64) 50 (80) 60 (96)

Speeding penalties

The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to the driver’s licence.

If a driver builds up 12 or more penalty points within a period of 3 years, they could be disqualified from driving.

Speed awareness course

Instead of speeding penalties in the form of a fine, drivers can be offered a speed awareness course if the speed they were driving was within the „acceptable” range. This is typically between speed limit + 10% + 2mph and speed limit + 10% + 9mph (for example, between 35 – 42mph in a 30mph zone)

The course is not compulsory and drivers need to pay for it (usually between £80 to £100). If a driver chooses to attend the course, they won’t receive any penalty points.

However, if a lorry driver commits a speeding offence with a lorry, it is not likely that such a course would be offered to them.

Table of UK speeding fine bands

Speed Limit (mph)

Recorded speed (mph)

C Band

B Band

A Band

20

41 and above

31 – 41

21 – 30

30

51 and above

41 – 50

31 – 40

40

66 and above

56 – 65

41 – 55

50

76 and above

66 – 75

51 – 65

60

91 and above

81 – 90

61- 80

70

101 and above

91 – 100

71 – 90

Points/disqualification

Disqualify 7 to 56 days or 6 points

Disqualify 7 to 28 days or  4 to 6 points

What happens, if you’re caught by a speed camera?

If a driver is caught by a speeding camera, they will be issued a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) és a Section 172 notice in 14 days. As the lorries are registered at the operator, they would be the one who receives the letter.

When receiving a Section 172 notice, the recipient has 28 days to tell the police who was driving the vehicle.

Once the driver’s identity was stated, they would receive either a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a letter telling them to go to court.

What happens if you’re stopped by the police?

If you a lorry is stopped by the police, they can give the driver a verbal warning, a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or order them to go to court. In this latter case, the driver will be sent a letter about what to do.

What to do if you receive a Fixed Penalty Notice?

If a driver gets an FPN they can choose to plead guilty or not guilty.

If a driver pleads guilty

The FPN is issued when speeding is regarded as a minor offence. Speeding is a minor offence if the speeding was 10% plus 2mph higher than the actual speed limit.

The driver has to pay a £100 fine and 3 penalty points will be added to their licence unless they are given the option to attend a speed awareness course.

The driving licence will have a code on it for 4 years.

If a driver pleads not guilty

If a driver pleads not guilty, they will have to go to court and explain it.

At the court, the jury decides whether to accept the driver’s explanations and evidence or not.

Driving an HGV is a factor that the court takes into account when deciding about a fine and can increase the amount.

If the court finds the driver guilty, they decide the fine which depends on what the speed limit was and how much over it the driver was driving. It’s usually a percentage of their weekly income, up to a maximum of £1,000 (£2,500 if the incident happened on a motorway).

The driver could also be disqualified from driving or have your licence suspended.

Additional Driving Changes for 2021

Mobile Phone Usage

Besides speeding penalties, the basic fine for using your mobile while driving is £200 and six penalty points


Photo credit @ kenjobro/ Flickr

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