Reports of speeding drivers soar - but traffic police face 'unacceptable hostility, abuse and obstruction'
POLICE are increasing traffic patrols and encouraging people to report speeding drivers after a “dramatic increase” in the number of people breaking limits.
The Avon and Somerset force says the number of complaints around speeding has doubled since the lockdown, with almost 1,400 drivers caught and 144 facing court action because they were going so far above the limit.
Police said some drivers “choose to abuse quieter roads by driving well in excess of speed limits, putting other road users including families and cyclists taking daily exercise at risk”.
In the first month after the lockdown was announced on March 23, traffic fell by about two thirds but Avon and Somerset police traffic units detected 1,391 drivers exceeding the posted speed limit – a similar amount to pre-lockdown levels – including drivers speeding at more than 45mph in a 20mph zone and over 70mph in a 30mph zone.
But officers on patrols to detect and discourage speeding are “facing unacceptable hostility, abuse and obstruction”, the force said.
Avon and Somerset police road safety manager Trevor Simpson said officers had hoped that “prevalent speeding would not be an issue to which we would have to dedicate valuable police resource”.
But he said: “Sadly it has become evident, through the high number of reports we are receiving, that a minority of people are going against the advice and causing danger to themselves and others.
“Where journeys are essential – for example essential work which can’t be done from home, a necessary food shop or to care for someone vulnerable – we urge people to stay local, take extra care and respect speed limits. Higher speed inevitably means higher risk.
“We have been asked; have we got nothing better to do? The answer to that is that our role is primarily to protect and serve our communities and we will robustly police and challenge dangerous driving that puts others at risk. There can be no greater responsibility in the current climate than protecting the NHS and other road users.
“We want to drive home the message that speeding is unjustifiable and unacceptable, not only in terms of breaking the law, but to the great majority of the British public who are respecting the rules and avoiding non-essential travel in order to help us all get to the other side of this pandemic as quickly as possible.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Speeding is never acceptable but especially in the current circumstances. Although there might be less cars on the road as people are only making essential journeys, this does not justify speeding; the speed limit is still the same.
“Our officers and staff are working hard to ensure everyone adheres to the speed limit if they need to make an essential journey. They are there to protect you, protect others and should be treated with respect. Let’s remember that speeding puts yourself and others at risk, and this is an additional strain on emergency services that are already working so hard to protect us from the coronavirus.”
Speeding can be reported through Avon and Somerset’s website here or via 999 in an emergency and where there is danger to life.