So many people ask me about speed cameras and what happens if you’re caught, especially while learning to drive, that I decided to make a page to help answer these questions.
The information on this page is correct to the best of my knowledge and I have asked the police directly about some of the points mentioned but I am not a solicitor, lawyer or Police officer. You can visit the official Police safety camera page by clicking here
I have given over 6000 driving lessons and never had anyone caught speeding, mainly because i make pupils aware of their responsibilities on lessons and through this page. It has been known to happen though as you can read further down the page.
The best way to avoid being caught is simple – don’t speed!
What happens if a learner is caught speeding?
If a learner is caught speeding on a driving lesson (or at any other time) then the learner will get the fine and points. It is not the fault of the accompanying driver (no matter whether it’s an instructor, relative or whoever) and they do not get fined or receive any points as they are not the driver. If learners were exempt then nobody would ever bother passing a test because as a learner they’d be untouchable.
UK law states that the driver of the vehicle is responsible for the offence and that only the driver can be prosecuted. The fact that you’re a learner driver is totally irrelevant and you won’t be treated any differently to someone with a full driving licence. Being on a driving lesson, a driving test, in a dual controlled car, with a driving instructor or even on your very first driving lesson in a dual controlled car with a driving instructor makes no difference at all. The person in the driving seat is the driver and is legally responsible no matter what.
The legal keeper of the car is sent a letter asking who was driving at the time of the offence. They cannot lie and take points for you, even if they want to. They must name the person that was driving at the time and return the form to the police who will then pursue that person. What if you decide to lie and say that you weren’t driving when you were? In that case you’re committing a very serious offence and will get in far more trouble!
I keep my diary for a year and have CCTV in my car so I can prove who was driving at any time. The police could also have a photo of you driving from the speed camera (especially from a van where they check your speed from the front) so do not lie or you can find yourself in much more serious trouble.
If you are a learner driver that gets caught speeding then you are usually offered the chance to go on a driver improvement course which costs around £110 (paid for by you) and will avoid you getting points. This is a one or two day course where you get to see footage of accidents caused by speeding and the reasons behind speed limits are explained. They are said to work well but I did hear of someone once who got caught speeding on the way home from the course!
The bottom line is that learners are not exempt from the law and your provisional licence can gain points just as a full licence can. Of course driving instructors do their best to stop this happening but it is ultimately up to the learner as they are the driver. If you’re not big enough to take that responsibility then don’t drive.
But the instructor has dual controls and can see the speed as well?
Having dual controls makes no difference to who is driving the car. You don’t have to have dual controls when supervising a learner and even if they are fitted it may not be safe to use them. What if learners practice in their own car with a parent and they don’t have dual controls? How is the accompanying driver supposed to slow a learner down then?
As for seeing the speed, the photo below shows how you can’t even see the speedo from the passenger side of most cars these days so how is the supervising driver even supposed to know what the exact speed of the car is?
The accompanying driver doesn’t have an accelerator so they can’t be making the car speed. Yes it would maybe be possible for them to be holding the clutch down and coasting the car over the limit but is that really likely to be what happened?
A view of the speedo in a 2013 Ford Fiesta from the passenger seat. You can move around all you want but you still can’t see it and it’s even worse with hands in the way! The speedo is on the right (the one you can’t see), the other is the rev counter
I didn’t know I’d get the penalty. I thought my instructor would.
So what you’re really saying is that you didn’t care that you were breaking the law because you thought you’d just get away with it by blaming someone else. You also didn’t care that by doing so you could lose them their job, their business and their home. Does that sound like a good defence to you?
I knew of a pupil once that passed their driving test and three months later their parents complained to his driving instructor because he’d got caught speeding. Three months after passing and still they’re trying to blame the instructor who wasn’t even in the car!
Has a learner ever been caught speeding?
Not with me but yes it has happened and you can read about a learner getting caught speeding by clicking here.
How do I know if I was caught?
The registered keeper of the vehicle must get a letter through the post within 14 days of the offence. If they don’t then the whole prosecution is invalid. If you were driving someone elses vehicle at the time, such as a driving school car, then the actual driver of the vehicle may eventually get the letter later than the 14 day period. In that case the prosecution is still valid. The only exception to this rule is if postal strikes delay the delivery of the letter or if the registered keeper takes weeks to send the letter on to you (not including you pretending you didn’t get the letter) in which case they can end up being prosecuted!
For example; you own a car and get a letter after 10 days saying that they intend to prosecute you. That is valid and the prosecution will go ahead. If however the letter was sent to a driving school car hire company after 10 days and they then send it on to your instructor who then sends it on to you, it could be outside of the 14 day period that you actually get the letter but it is still valid as the first person in the chain (the registered keeper of the car) had the letter within 14 days. In reality it would only take a company a few minutes to look up the driver of a hired car and so it would probably only make a difference of a day or two.
The letters are sent through normal post so you don’t have to sign for them. Changing your address or hoping that it will get delayed in the post won’t work. If you don’t reply they’ll just send another. If you don’t reply to that then they’ll send a police officer round to your house with the ticket and it just gets worse.
What fine will I get?
It depends on how fast you were going but the usual fine is 3 points on your licence and a £100 fine. If it was a rental car that you were driving then they usually add a £25+ admin charge on for sending you the paperwork.
Doing 35mph in a 30mph zone would be 3 points but 50mph in a 30mph zone means a court appearance and usually 6 points. 96mph+ in any speed zone is an instant ban, if you haven’t been killed in a crash anyway!
How much margin for error is there?
This varies across the country but as I understand it the most common allowance is 10% of the limit plus 2 mph so you would be caught at 35mph in a 30mph zone and nothing less is prosecuted. The 10% allows for a difference between your speedo and theirs and the 2mph on top is because nearly all car speedos show less than you’re actually doing. Try comparing your cars speedo with a sat nav speedo and you might see a difference of up to 10%.
“My friend got caught and they were only 1mph over the limit”
Impossible. I hear this all the time and as detailed above, the police will not prosecute for anything less than 35mph in a 30mph zone. As mentioned in the video above, a cars speedo is not very accurate and they tend to always show a lower speed than you’re doing. On top of that the police give you 10% extra leeway to be fair.
If you got caught doing 35mph then your speedo would have read around 40mph. You weren’t just a bit over, you were 10mph over – that’s over 33% above the limit!
What will points on my licence mean?
Of course you shouldn’t speed and nobody wants points but getting 3 points on your licence is not the end of he world. Would it surprise you to know that there are driving instructors, test examiners, police and people in all jobs who have points on their licence? I’ve been in taxis where the driver has told me he had 9 points! It doesn’t make you a bad person and in an online insurance quote that i got for a new driver with 3 points it only increased the insurance by £40.
Depending on what you want to do for a living, where you live and how serious the offence was it can have different consequences.
A stupid speeding story
Just to show you how daft some people are when it comes to speed, here’s a conversation I once had with a pupil. I’ll leave you to make your own mind up about it.
Pupil – My dad is really angry, he got a speeding ticket the other day.
Me – What was the reason for him speeding?
Pupil – It’s not fair. The road goes 30, 40, 30, 40, 30 ,40 and he just didn’t know which speed it was
Me – So was he doing 40 in a 30 zone?
Pupil – No he was doing 60