According to data from the Department for Transport’s speed compliance statistics for January to June 2020, it found evidence of an increase in motorists breaking speed limits from mid-March, just as the lockdown was put in place.
The statistics found that 30mph zones were the most frequently exceeded by drivers, rising to 63 per cent during the lockdown compared to 56 per cent over the same period in 2019.
UK traffic levels during the first restrictions fell to as low as 25 per cent of the normal as people were forced to stay home or walk and cycle more often to get around.
MPs, councils, and police reported a growing number of excessive speeding cases. In June, traffic officers caught eight drivers doing more than 130mph and a Porsche doing 163 mph.
On social media a driver was also pursued by the police after posting a video of his Audi reaching 200mph in Kent.
The speed data is compiled using Automatic Traffic Counters put in place across the country by the department.
Exceeding the speed limit by 10mph went up from 13 per cent to 15 per cent on motorways, one per cent to three per cent on single carriageway roads and six per cent to eight per cent on 30mph roads,
Once the lockdown started to relax, breaking the speed limits returned to normal levels even though there was still much less traffic on the road, as if the speeders were looking out for the Police again.
[Image: Shutterstock, Nov 2020]
AA & RAC concerned by speeding
Head of AA Roads Policy Jack Cousens said the DfT’s published figures were ‘worrying’.
‘Of great concern was the increase on 30mph roads, given there were more pedestrians and cyclists exercising or avoiding public transport during the first lockdown’.
However, Mr Cousens say that despite some high-profile law breakers, UK roads did not turn into racetracks during the lockdown as described by some figures.
‘Early in the lockdown, there were incidents of extreme speed on motorways, main roads and even residential streets, particularly around London, as offenders thought the police would be busy enforcing the lockdown.
‘However, through a series of high-profile “arrests” and social media, the police made it clear they were still on the case and that extreme speeders would be targeted. Additionally, and carrying on through the second lockdown, rural police forces have had to crack down on speeding along quieter country roads and villages.’
RAC’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes told ThisisMoney that ‘lower traffic volumes sadly led to some shocking levels of speed limit disobedience, particularly on 30mph limit roads. This is dangerous behaviour unnecessarily put lives at risk during the first national lockdown when more people were walking and cycling.
‘Empty roads should not be an excuse to drive dangerously and it would be frightening to think one of the legacies of the lockdown is a complete disregard for speed limits and other road users’ safety.’
As we are into the second lockdown, there is a feeling that we may see a repeat of the speeding behaviour as drivers think the police are busy handling Covid 19 problems. There is an argument to say that in the absence of police, other drivers should make sure they report these speed demons to prevent it becoming a regular occurrence.
Do you think that speeding during lockdowns should be punished more harshly? Would you record and then report someone speeding?
Let us know in the comments below.