Lockdown speeders: drivers exploit coronavirus restrictions to speed excessively

Date published: 02 June 2020


‘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.

That's 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.

No information is currently available for Greater Manchester's top speeder.

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

The highest speed seen in Derbyshire Constabulary’s area, however, was particularly worrying as it was 108mph captured in a 40mph limit on the M1 – a frightening 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 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.”


Do you have a story for us? Want to tell us about something going on in and around Oldham? Let us know by emailing news@oldham-chronicle.co.uk , calling our Oldham-based newsroom on 0161 633 2121 , tweeting us @oldhamchronicle or messaging us through our Facebook page. All contact will be treated in confidence.


While you are here...

...we have a small favour to ask; would you support Oldham Chronicle and join other residents making a contribution, from just £3 per month?

Oldham Chronicle offers completely independent local journalism with free access. If you enjoy the independent news and other free services we offer, please consider supporting us financially and help Oldham Chronicle to continue to provide local engaging content for years to come. Thank you.

Support Oldham Chronicle