Breaking the speed limit jumped during lockdown

Breaking the speed limit jumped by up to 7% during lockdown

24 November 2020

While UK traffic levels in the first lockdown fell to as low as 25% of the normal and more people took to walking or cycling, breaking the speed limit on 30 mph roads jumped from 56% to 63%, on 60 mph single carriageway roads it increased from 10% to 17% and on motorways it went up from 52% to 53%, according to Department for Transport statistics released today*. These compare speeds between April and June of this year with the same period last year.


However, exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph went up from 13% to 15% on motorways, 1% to 3% on single carriageway roads and 6% on 8% on 30 mph roads,

Once the lockdown started to relax, breaking the speed limits returned to normal levels even though there was still much less traffic on the road – down to 80% by the end of June.

Early in the lockdown, there were incidents of extreme speed on motorways, main roads and even residential streets
Jack Cousens, head of AA Roads Policy

“It is worrying that more drivers broke the speed limit when there was less traffic on Britain’s streets during the lockdown. Also of great concern was the increase on 30 mph roads, given there were more pedestrians and cyclists exercising or avoiding public transport during the first lockdown. However, despite some high-profile law-breakers, UK roads didn’t turn into racetracks,” says Jack Cousens, head of AA Roads Policy.

“Early in the lockdown, there were incidents of extreme speed on motorways, main roads and even residential streets, particularly around London, as offenders thought the police would be busy enforcing the lockdown. However, through a series of high-profile ‘collars’ and social media, the police made it clear they were still on the case and that extreme speeders would be targeted.

“Additionally and carrying on through the second lockdown, rural police forces have had to crack down on speeding along quieter country roads and villages. However, as well as the law, speeders face another threat that could kill or seriously injure them and their passengers.

“Two-fifths of drivers most likely to drive at night encountered more deer and wildlife in the road during and just after the lockdown, research by the AA and British Deer Society uncovered. In May, emergency services in the South West had warned that quieter evening roads had lulled animals into a false sense of security on roads.

“In stark contrast, lockdown road restrictions initially intended to improve social distancing by travellers wary of public transport, brought urban road speeds down to a crawl in places as traffic was squeezed into less road space. Along one London road recently, 17 buses were left stationary by a resulting traffic jam.”