I think I might have written about this a couple of years ago, but again this Christmas I was subjected to the 40mph club that seems to plague Britain now. We were there for our Christmas vacation to see the family, and whilst driving, it became quickly apparent that everyone seems to be stuck at 40mph now. Irrespective of the speed limits, too. Wide open, long country 'A' roads with national speed limits (60mph), good sight lines and dry roads, were full of people doing 40mph. The same people would then cruise past a '30' sign on entering a village, and keep going at 40mph. I can't explain what's happened - I don't know if people are now afraid to go faster than 40mph because of all the (misleading and wrong) anti-speeding campaigns, the sheer volume of speed cameras or the perception that their car will some how careen out of control into a ditch if they go any quicker.
When we left the UK in 2001, things were very different. If you didn't get it up to at least 55 in a national speed limit area, you'd be overtaken constantly. People did 70 on dual carriageways (like you should - and like the law allows), 60 or more in national limits, and then (for the most part) slowed down to 30 for residential areas. Now it seems like the entire country is driving at 40mph.
The exception is the motorways, where everyone now does 50mph because the entire network appears to be one giant roadwork, with average-speed cameras every couple of miles. Never mind that over Christmas there were no workers out, or that all the lanes were open, or that the traffic was relatively light. No - everyone was hemmed-in and forced to do 20mph below the limit because of a system of cameras that have no subjectivity. Actually - less than that - it seemed most were doing 45mph (according to our GPS anyway), so we did make some progress as we were the only car in the outside lane, overtaking everyone else, actually doing 50.
That all came to an end of course when we got off on to an 'A' road where we were slowed back down to 40mph again.....