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Figures released by the government show that the number of people driving over the motorway speed has dropped from 57% a decade ago, to 47% today. The figures only take into account drivers in free flowing traffic, which means that those stuck in traffic jams and congestion are not taken into account. The figures are said to be the lowest rate since the Department for Transport started to publish the data in 2002. Similar decline has also been witnessed on roads with other speed limits.

Although there is likely to be a combination of reasons that have led to the decrease, groups have pointed to a number of determinant factors. Although speed limits have remained the same on most roads, there has been an increase in the number of speed cameras, while rising fuel prices that tend to lead to more sensible driving have continued for the past ten years too.

Typically, driving at around 70mph offers greater fuel economy than driving at higher speeds. This, coupled with the continued increase in the price of petrol at the pumps, means that people may be choosing to drive slower in order to conserve petrol and save money. During the early 2000s, there was also a large increase in the number of static and mobile speed cameras that were introduced on the roads, and this means that people are more cautious about speeding.

The figures show that while 57% of people drove over the 70mph speed in 2003, the figure is now 47%. While this still means that nearly half of the people on UK motorways are driving over the speed limit, it is a significant drop in numbers. The number of extreme speeders, considered to be those driving at 80mph or more, has also dropped from 20% to 12% while urban road speeders have declined, and reached a record low of 46% last year.

The Highways Agency said that the figures were taken from data that was recorded on stretches of road that did not have speed cameras and were not congested, ensuring that the figures were reliable and represented free flowing traffic free from constraints.