Lockdown ‘Saw More Drivers Speeding’


During Britain’s Covid-19 lockdown, the proportion of cars speeding on our roads was higher than in the same period last year.

This is according to the Department for Transport (DfT), which looked at speed limit compliance in free-flowing traffic conditions in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019.

The figures come from the DfT’s Automatic Traffic Counters and don’t include areas where driver behaviour might be restricted, such as locations with junctions, hills, sharp bends or speed cameras. They also don’t include smart motorways.

Lockdown saw more speeding

As the number of cars on the roads fell during the Covid-19 lockdown, higher proportions of motorists exceeded speed limits.

Some roads saw more of this than others.

Motorways didn’t see a significant increase in the proportion of drivers breaking the speed limit. Between April and June 2020, 53% of motorists in free-flowing traffic conditions on motorways went faster than the speed limit allowed for. This was up from 52% in the same period the previous year.

But on single carriageways with a speed limit of 60mph, 17% of drivers went faster than that in that period. In April to June 2019, this figure stood much lower, at 10%. Meanwhile, on 30mph roads, 63% of motorists broke the speed limit in April to June this year, compared to 56% last year.

During the lockdown, there were also higher proportions of drivers recorded going at more than 10mph faster than the speed limit on most roads.

Last year, 13% of cars travelled at these higher speeds on motorways, while 15% did so this year. On single carriageways, 1% of drivers went more than 10mph faster than the speed limit, while 3% did this year. Meanwhile, 6% of motorists exceeded the speed limit by 10mph or more in 2019, compared to 8% this year.

Then, as restrictions eased later in the year and traffic levels began to return to normal, so did the proportions of drivers going faster than the speed limit.

Days and times drivers more likely to speed

Certain times of the day saw more drivers going faster than the speed limit allowed. According to the DfT’s statistics, in April to June 2020, higher proportions of motorists exceeded the limit on motorways at 7pm, when 57% did so.

On 60mph single carriageways, it was more likely to happen at 4am, when 34% of drivers broke the speed limit. And on 30mph roads, 83% of motorists went faster than that at 5am.

Sunday was consistently the day that higher proportions of cars were recorded exceeding the speed limit. Between April and June, 56% of drivers on motorways went faster, while 20% did so on single carriageways, and 65% did on 30mph roads.

Speeding and road safety

Although a significant proportion of drivers do it, speeding is not a harmless way of getting where you need to be quicker.

The DfT also found that across 2019, drivers going faster than the speed limit accounted for 6% of all road traffic accidents in the country. But it also found that this was a contributing factor to 15% of fatal accidents.

It was more likely to be a cause of accidents on B roads, where 7% of crashes were the result of someone speeding.

If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, we could help you claim the compensation you’re entitled to. Speak to our team of friendly and understanding advisors by giving us a free call, requesting a call back at a convenient time or starting your claim online.


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