‘Truly shocking’ speeds recorded during lockdown

08.27 | 2 June 2020 | | 3 comments

Police forces across Britain have highlighted the extent to which excess speeding was a prevalent issue during the early part of Covid-19 lockdown.

Data analysed by the RAC shows 20 of the 30 police forces who responded to the Freedom of Information (FOI) request caught their worst offenders at speeds in excess of 100mph during the first three weeks of lockdown.

The worst offender during that period was caught in West Yorkshire driving at 151mph on the M62 motorway – a shocking 81mph over the speed limit. This was 11mph faster than the next fastest recorded which was 140mph on the A14 in Suffolk.

Eight forces – The Met, Northamptonshire, Gwent, Staffordshire, Kent, Suffolk, West Yorkshire and Humberside – all caught motorists driving at speeds in excess of 130mph and two others – Police Scotland and Lancashire – recorded drivers at speeds over 120mph.

The highest speed seen in a 40mph limit was 134mph – 94mph above the limit – recorded by the Met on the A10 in North London. Derbyshire Constabulary also caught a driver going at 108mph on the M1 – 68mph above the speed limit. 

The only other force whose highest speed was in a 40mph limit was Bedfordshire – here the driver was clocked at 104mph on Airport Way in Luton.

The RAC says some of the speeds recorded by police forces are ‘truly shocking’.

Simon Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “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 the highest speeds 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.”



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    David Weston’s comment ‘good on them’ on a road safety forum is disgraceful, although I suspect it stems from a bit of mischief and bravado rather than any understanding of the subject. In my (relevant) experience, persistent speeders are the poorest drivers on the road, ignorant of car control, vehicle dynamics and everything that goes with it, and lack essential attributes such as anticipation, observation and concentration etc. Put them on a purpose-built racetrack and they would no doubt be off at the first corner.

    As regards ‘if it was safe, then why not?’ perhaps David would endorse a road system where no rules apply, provided as individuals we thought our actions were ‘safe’. Approximately 10,000 collisions happen on UK roads everyday involving motorists who thought there actions were ‘safe’.

    Is it okay with David if, from now on, I drive on the wrong side of the road at night, with no lights, provided of course, I thought it was safe (in my expert opinion)?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (7)

    I have been, with the exception of very short circular trips in my car to keep my car in good working order, a pedestrian since the week before lockdown. Let’s just say I’ve spent a fair amount of my time outside, walking – and keeping myself socially distanced from other members of the public. As part of this, I’ve been keeping an eye of my surroundings, seeing what’s been going on.

    I haven’t noticed any real changes in driver behaviour. What I perceive to be traffic has most certainly increased over the past fortnight, but I really haven’t seen anything proportionally that I wouldn’t see pre-lockdown.

    > The worst offender during that period was caught in West Yorkshire driving at 151mph on the M62 motorway

    Good on them. If it was safe, then why not?

    Notwithstanding the fact that we should be limiting our exposure to all sorts of risk (to reduce the load on the NHS) with the news that has been rolling in the past few months, my opinion of driving at that sort of speed is safe has most certainly been reinforced.

    Also, why is “truly shocking” in quotes? Is it because it’s not really truly shocking?

    David Weston, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
    Agree (7) | Disagree (4)

    I expect newspaper headlines to have a fixation on “highest speed” articles. What would be of much more use, to me at least, is the detail behind the statement further down the original article advising that during lockdown the forces reported “17,363 speeding offences in 30mph limits (in the 30 force areas which responded to the RAC’s FOI) compared to 40,497 in the same period in 2019.”
    Obviously traffic volumes are down because of lockdown but what were the average and 85th percentile figures for those 17,363 vehicles and how do they compare with last years numbers?
    Many of us work more with underlying trends of the majority of drivers than sensational mad nutter individual drivers who take the limelight. Come on RAC show us that you are better than the red top newspapers and give us some real insight.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (8) | Disagree (2)

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