70% of drivers broke 30mph speed limits in lockdown

Government statistics show March 2020 lockdown brought a huge increase in the proportion of car drivers speeding in 30mph zones

Increased speed limits help to cut accidents

The UK’s first national lockdown in March 2020 brought with it a significant increase in the proportion of drivers breaking 30mph speed limits, according to official Government statistics.

Some 73 per cent of people driving cars on 30mph roads exceeded the speed limit on one day in April 2020, while April as a whole saw 68 per cent of people speed in 30mph zones. For comparison, 53 per cent of drivers broke 30mph limits in 2019 as a whole.

Urban roads, which typically have 30mph limits, take 37 per cent of all traffic, but are the roads on which 63 per cent of casualties occur. 

Data from individual police forces had previously shown that the frequency of certain motoring offences increased when lockdown was introduced, but these latest national statistics reveal just how prevalent speeding became when roads were left free-flowing due to vastly reduced traffic volumes that fell to almost 20 per cent of normal levels at some points in April 2020.

The Department for Transport’s figures reveal increases in the prevalence of speeding across all road types during the coronavirus pandemic. Looking at 2020 as a whole, 56 per cent of people broke 30mph limits, compared with 53.5 per cent in 2019. 

On roads with the 60mph national speed limit, 12.4 per cent of car drivers sped in 2020, up from nine per cent in 2019. Speed compliance on motorways was largely steady from 2019 to 2020, rising just 0.5 per cent, but that trend has changed this year, with 50 per cent of drivers speeding on motorways in the first quarter of 2021, up from 46 per cent in 2020

Commenting on the figures, the RAC’s Simon Williams said: “While these figures show fewer drivers were tempted to speed during the third national lockdown than in the first, they sadly indicate a clear correlation between quieter roads and people breaking the speed limit. Given compliance was at its worst on 30mph limit roads, this dangerous behaviour unnecessarily put lives at risk when more people were walking and cycling.”

Now read our guide to speed awareness courses...

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