Speeding drivers have been using the quieter roads during lockdown to commit some of the most outrageous offences seen by forces.
New data obtained by the RAC shows that during the first three weeks of lockdown 20 individual forces caught drivers hitting more than 100mph on public roads, including one motorist in West Yorkshire clocked at 151mph on the M62 - 81mph over the speed limit.
The next closest offender was a driver in Suffolk who was spotted doing 140mph on a 70mph stretch of the A14.
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No time to react
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.”
Five other forces - Northamptonshire, Gwent, Staffordshire, Kent and Humberside - caught motorists driving at speeds in excess of 130mph on the motorway and Police Scotland, Metropolitan and Lancashire all recorded drivers at speeds higher than 120mph.
While the worst offences in most areas were committed on stretches of motorway or dual carriageway with the national speed limit in force, Derbyshire Constabulary’s worst offender was caught doing 108mph in a 40mph limit on the M1. 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 one force – Durham Constabulary – caught its fastest speeder in a 30mph limit (44mph), but across the country 17,363 speeding offences were recorded in 30mph limits. While that is less than half the 40,497 recorded in the same period in 2019 it is a worrying statistic given that traffic levels fell by between 60 and 80 per cent over the same period.
Williams added: “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.”
The new figures come after the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police revealed they had stepped up patrols after seeing a rise in the number and severity of speeding offences, and shortly after separate data revealed the worst speeding offences of 2019, including a driver who hit 120mph in a 20mph zone.