South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership
27 Nov 2020

Data released by the Department for Transport this week has confirmed that the number of cars speeding increased during the first UK lockdown.

At the time, anecdotal evidence from individual police forces and safer roads partnerships suggested that cases of speeding had risen.

But the ‘Vehicle Speed Compliance Statistics, Great Britain: January - June 2020’, released on November 24, 2020, confirms that this was the case. 

It states that the proportion of cars exceeding the speed limit during the UK coronavirus lockdown was higher than for the equivalent period of 2019.

The report notes: ‘The annual speed compliance statistics show very little variation in compliance with the speed limit from year to year, so without the coronavirus pandemic, we would expect speed limit compliance to have remained in line with previous years.

"However during the UK lockdown, which started in March 2020, road traffic decreased significantly, as people were encouraged to stay at home. Throughout the second quarter of 2020, road traffic levels gradually increased again, as restrictions gradually eased.’

The statistics also show that 53% of cars exceeded the limit on motorways, 17% of cars exceeded the limit on national speed limit single carriageways and 63% of cars exceeded the limit on 30mph roads.

During the first lockdown, many forces also reported an increase in cases of extreme speeding, with some drivers taking advantage of the quieter, less congested roads.

Speeds as high as 163 mph were detected on the motorways and dual carriageways around Greater London, which, ordinarily, would have been heavily congested.

Similar high-speed offences occurred across the UK road network, with many high-speed offences taking place in built-up, residential streets. In Lancashire, a car was detected at 100 mph in a 30 mph zone.

This prompted an anti-speeding campaign, led by Andy Cox, who was at the time a Detective Superintendent at the Met Police and head of the force’s road and transport policing.

He was interviewed by the media worldwide about the issue and appealed directly to drivers to take more care than ever, in order to ease the burden on the already overstretched NHS.