104mph in a 40mph zone in Luton, Bedfordshire Image: Jevanto Productions AdobeStock_258339248

Lockdown speeders “exploit coronavirus restrictions to speed excessively”

Lockdown speeding’ has become a very unwelcome by-product of the Government’s fight against coronavirus. So says the RAC, who sent a freedom of information (FOI) request to all British police forces.

The data found that 20 police forces caught their worst offenders travelling at speeds in excess of 100mph.

The worst speeder in the first three weeks of the lockdown was caught in West Yorkshire driving at 151mph on the M62 motorway – 81mph over the speed limit. This was 11mph faster than the next fastest recorded which was 140mph on the A14 in Suffolk.

Six forces – The Met, Northamptonshire, Gwent, Staffordshire, Kent and Humberside – all caught motorists driving at speeds in excess of 130mph.

In Bedfordshire, the highest speed was in a 40mph limit, here the driver was clocked at 104mph on Airport Way in Luton. The highest speed seen in a 40mph limit was 134mph on the A10 in North London.

Chief Inspector Jon Roche, Head of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Roads Policing Unit, said:

“Roads have been quieter than usual and we are aware of a minority of road users who have driven dangerously during this time.

“The tri-force Roads Policing Unit continues to patrol the county’s roads and will not hesitate to take action against those who act in this irresponsible way. While traffic might be different, the rules of the road remain the same.

“Speeding is one of the four fatal behaviours, which are the biggest causes of deaths on our roads.

“The faster you drive, the less time you have to react to changing circumstances. We want to urge everyone to drive carefully, be mindful of others and get to your destinations safely.”

The table below shows a selection of the highest recorded speeds within police areas, between 23 March (start of UK-wide coronavirus lockdown) and 13 April 2020. Data supplied by the RAC.

Police force Highest speed detected (mph) Speed limit where recorded mph over the limit Stretch of road
West Yorkshire Police 151 70 81 M62
Suffolk Constabulary 140 70 70 A14
Northamptonshire Police 138 70 68 M1 J17-J16
Metropolitan Police 134 40 94 A10 N London
Derbyshire Constabulary 108 40 68 M1 (N)
Bedfordshire Constabulary 104 40 64 Airport Way Luton
Cambridgeshire Constabulary 73 30 43 Barnwell Road, Cambridge

RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams said:

“Some of the speeds police forces have caught drivers doing are truly shocking. At such high speeds there is virtually no time to react should anything unexpected happen in front such as a car changing lanes at the last second or a vehicle having to brake suddenly.

“Clearly, some drivers have taken advantage of quieter roads to speed excessively putting the lives of others at risk at the worst possible time, but at the same time it’s encouraging that so many police forces have taken firm action even during the lockdown, which sends a strong message to other would-be offenders.

“While the most of highest speeds were recorded were on motorways, some occurred on roads with much lower speed limits, which is an even greater concern. The figures for speeding offences on 30mph roads are particularly worrying as far more people have been walking and cycling due to the lockdown.

“As some schools and nurseries in England begin to open their doors from this week there will be even more pedestrians on the roads so we urge every driver to obey the speed limit and keep all road users safe.”