The proportion of drivers breaking the speed limit jumped during the first nationwide lockdown, according to the latest government figures.
New data from the Department for Transport reveals that while there were far fewer cars on the roads from April to June 2020, more of those drivers were found to be speeding.
A report into speed compliance shows that between January and March the number of cars recorded exceeding the speed limit was largely in line with previous years. However, from April to the end of June, while the country was in lockdown, speeding rates rose by up to seven per cent.
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Motorway speeding was up one per cent, from 52 to 53 per cent but on national speed limit roads it rose from 10 per cent to 17 per cent. And in 30mph zones nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of drivers were found to be exceeding the limit, up from 54 per cent.
In 30mph zones 63 per cent of cars were clocked breaking the speed limit (Photo: Shutterstock)
The RAC’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said the figures showed “shocking” levels of dangerous behaviour as drivers took advantage of quieter roads.
Traffic levels fell by as much as 80 per cent during the first nationwide lockdown as all but essential travel was banned before beginning to creep back up as restrictions eased. New figures suggest England’s second lockdown has led to a 30 per cent decrease in traffic again.
Earlier this year, an RAC Freedom of Information request revealed that several police forces had recorded an increase in the frequency and severity of speeding offences. In the first three weeks of lockdown, forces clocked drivers travelling at up to 81mph above the speed limit, with one motorist caught doing more than 150mph on the M62.
Responding to the latest government data, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “This data confirms what we previously suspected: lower traffic volumes sadly led to some shocking levels of speed limit disobedience, particularly on 30mph limit roads.
"This dangerous behaviour unnecessarily put lives at risk during the first national lockdown when more people were walking and cycling. Empty roads should not be an excuse to drive dangerously and it would be frightening to think one of the legacies of the lockdown is a complete disregard for speed limits and other road users’ safety.”