Police forces recorded speeding at almost 100mph above the limit as some foolhardy drivers took advantage of empty lockdown roads, new research has revealed.
Speeding was reached 163mph on UK motorways in 2020, with offences recorded by the Metropolitan Police on the M1 and by Humberside Police on the M62, according to new Freedom of Information data obtained by Confused.com.
The comparison site’s research found that more than 2.2million drivers were caught speeding in 2020 – equivalent to more than 6,000 offences recorded per day, on average.
While this is a 10 per cent drop compared to 2019, it is still statistically high considering the UK spent much of the past year being advised to stay at home – and traffic levels fell by as much as 80 per cent during the first lockdown.
A large number of drivers were caught speeding last year, despite the UK being in lockdown
Offences dropped in April following the announcement of a UK-wide lockdown, although 84,452 motorists were still caught travelling above the speed limit during this time.
However, this almost doubled to 165,609 in May when restrictions started to ease with offences continuing to increase over the summer, peaking at 225,297 in July.
The Metropolitan Police recorded the highest number of speeding offences of all UK police forces, accounting for 11 per cent of the UK total, with over 254,000 speeding offences recorded in their area in 2020.
Meanwhile, the North West was the worst region for speeding offences, with police forces collectively catching 353,173 drivers breaking the speed limit last year. Greater Manchester Police reported more than half of these.
If a driver is caught speeding, they will get a minimum £100 fine meaning drivers collectively paid out £200million in fines last year. However, in some cases, drivers could expect to be paying a significant amount more.
Top five areas for speeding by police force in 2020
• Metropolitan Police – 254,006
• West Yorkshire Police – 181,633
• Greater Manchester Police – 179,142
• Avon and Somerset Police – 103,723
• Kent County Police – 88,763
A change in the law in 2017 means that drivers caught speeding could have to pay up to 175 per cent of their weekly salary in fines, depending on the extent of the offence.
However, without one clear sum for all offenders, it can be confusing to know exactly how much someone can expect to pay.
This isn’t the only confusion drivers face around speeding laws with 24 per cent of UK drivers unclear on the 10 per cent +2mph myth.
This says drivers won’t get a speeding ticket unless they are going 10 per cent plus 2mph faster than the limit, however, this is a guideline only.
Similarly, 11 per cent of motorists are confused about the penalty for driving too slowly.
Speeding is an offence that most drivers will commit at some point, even if they aren’t aware of it with 79 per cent of motorists admitting to breaking the speed limit in the past.
While 54 per cent claim they didn’t realise they were doing it, 28 per cent knowingly broke the speed limit to overtake another car. Some 25 per cent even admit to speeding because they were running late.
The Met Police recorded the highest number of speeding offences of all UK police forces
Despite so many people committing the offence, 52 per cent of UK drivers don’t think it’s acceptable to speed under any circumstance.
However, 30 per cent of motorists think it’s okay to speed in an emergency and 12 per cent think it’s fine if there aren’t any other cars on the road which could explain why there were so many speeding offences during the 2020 lockdown.
In fact, 28 per cent of UK drivers think people are more likely to speed at the moment because roads are quieter.
But 44 per cent of speed cameras are switched on either permanently or temporarily so drivers are more likely to get caught than they think, according to FOI data obtained in 2020.
Some 42 per cent of drivers have been caught speeding at one point, and of these, 15 per cent claim their life was affected as a result, including losing their job. Another 31 per cent added their car insurance has increased since being caught.
Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, said: ‘It’s worrying to think that many people took advantage of quieter roads during lockdown to ramp up the speed. Speed limits are in place for a reason – to keep road users and pedestrians safe.
‘If you’re caught speeding, you could be paying out up to 175 per cent of your weekly income – this could be up to £1,000 for some drivers, or £2,500 on a motorway. But it is confusing to work out the penalty with the rules changing depending on the severity of the offence. Stick to the limit and avoid a hefty fine.’
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