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Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Press release -

Lockdown speeders: drivers exploit coronavirus restrictions to speed excessively

‘Lockdown speeding’ has become a very unwelcome by-product of the Government’s fight against coronavirus with 20 police forces catching their worst offenders at speeds in excess of 100mph, according to data analysed by the RAC as part of a freedom of information (FOI) request to all British police forces*.

The worst speeder in the first three weeks of the lockdown 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.

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

The highest speed seen in a 40mph limit was 134mph – a frightening 94mph above the limit – recorded by the Met on the A10 in North London, while Cambridgeshire Police detected a car being driven at 73mph in a 30mph area. 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.

Only three forces saw their worst speeding offences occur in 50mph limits, with South Wales Police recording by far the worst with a driver being caught at 108mph on the M4 at Port Talbot. Four constabularies captured their worst speeding offences in 60mph limits with a driver in West Mercia snapped at 92mph on the M5 between junctions five and six.

While only one other force – Durham Constabulary – caught their fastest speeder in a 30mph limit (44mph), nationally the first three weeks of the coronavirus lockdown still produced 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.

RAC road safety spokesman 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.”

Police force Highest speed detected (mph) Speed limit where recorded Mph over the limit Stretch of road Time of day
West Yorkshire Police 151 70 81 M62 21:55
Suffolk Constabulary 140 70 70 A14 Not provided
Northamptonshire Police 138 70 68 M1 J17-J16 21:11
Gwent Police 136 70 66 M4 J23a-J24 Not provided
Staffordshire Police 135 70 65 Not provided Not provided
Metropolitan Police 134 40 94 A10 N London Not provided
Kent Police 132 70 62 M20 16:00-17:00
Humberside Police 130 70 60 M62 J35 11:43
Police Scotland 128 70 58 A77 Southbound btwn Monkton & Sandyford 13:56
Lancashire Constabulary 120 70 50 M6 J35-J33 & M65 05:30 & 21:30
Merseyside Police 115 70 45 M6 Southbound J24-23 15:21
North Wales Police 111 70 41 A55 12:46
Norfolk Constabulary 110 70 40 A11 Not provided
Derbyshire Constabulary 108 40 68 M1 (N) 20:33
West Midlands Police 108 70 38 M5 J3-J4 Not provided
South Wales Police 108 50 58 M4 - Port Talbot 23:51
Gloucestershire Constabulary 106 70 36 M5 08:00 & 12:00
Bedfordshire Constabulary 104 40 64 Airport Way Luton 10:02
Devon & Cornwall Police 101 70 31 A38 Haldon Hill 14:00-18:00
Hampshire Constabulary 101 70 31 A331 18:28
Cheshire Constabulary 95 70 25 M56 & M6 - 5 vehicles 5 vehicles
West Mercia Police 92 60 32 M5 J5-J6 05:07
Cumbria Constabulary 89 60 29 A590 Morning
South Yorkshire Police 88 60 28 A616 (T) East past A629 Exit Barnsley Not provided
Dyfed-Powys Police 88 60 28 A483 - Belan 12:26pm
Cleveland Police 86 70 16 A19 16:25
Northumbria Police 86 70 16 A1 Felton by Pass Midday
Dorset Police 73 50 23 A31 St Leonards 10:00-11:00
Cambridgeshire Constabulary 73 30 43 Barnwell Road, Cambridge 19:30
Leicestershire Police 58 50 8 A47 Uppingham Road, Billesdon 09:07
Durham Constabulary 44 30 14 Watling Street, Consett 11:52

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Notes to Editors

* The RAC’s freedom of information request was sent to all police forces in England, Wales and Scotland. It asked for the highest recorded speed by a driver within each force area between the dates of 23rd March 2020 and 13th April 2020. In total 30 forces provided data. It also asked how many drivers were caught exceeding a 30mph limit in this period and the same three weeks in 2019.

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