Why Did We Speed More In Last 12 Months?

Tue 30th Mar 2021

Empty lockdown roads across the UK may have contributed to more cases of drivers breaking the speed limit according to new research.

Data published by Confused following a Freedom of Information request has found that there were 2.2million drivers caught speeding in 2020, equivalent to 6,000 offences a day. While these figures are less the previous year’s data, this has to be taken in the context that traffic levels across much of the country fell by 80 per cent during the first lockdown last year.

Speeding offences dropped in the first full month of lockdown in April 2020, with 84,452 drivers caught exceeding speed limits, but the speed-demons were out in force one month later with 165,609 punished, and the figures continued to rise over the summer with 225,297 offences in July.

The extent of the problem is reflected by the fact that two police forces recorded cars travelling at almost 100mph over the national speed limit. The Metropolitan Police on the M1 and Humberside Police on the M62 both caught offenders recording a speed of 163mph.

While the minimum punishment for speeding drivers is a £100 fine, a change in the law in 2017 could see the worst offenders having to pay 175 per cent of their weekly salary in fines - a move clearly aimed at those who believe they can pay to speed.

The Confused research found that 79 per cent of motorists admit to breaking the speed limit, though 54 per cent claim they didn’t realise they were doing, while 28 per cent said they did it to overtake another car. 

“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,” said Alex Kindred, at Confused.

“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.”