More than half of people witnessed an increase in speeding during the coronavirus lockdown, according to research published today. The news comes after a BBC report also suggested drivers have been flouting speed restrictions.

According to the new study, commissioned by the RAC, 44 percent of the 2,020 people quizzed said they had seen more drivers speeding since the lockdown was introduced on March 23. The study also showed roads with 30 mph limits appear to be the most likely place for speeding, with almost a quarter (23 percent) of respondents said they had seen drivers “very obviously breaking the law” by going too fast.

In comparison, 15 percent of drivers said they had seen an increase in speeding in 20 mph zones, and the same proportion said speeding had risen on 40 mph roads. Meanwhile on 50 mph roads, just 10 percent of drivers said they had seen an increase in drivers blatantly flouting limits. On 60 and 70 mph roads, those proportions fell to six percent and five percent respectively.

Police speed camera van on city road in UK

However, speeding is not the only traffic offence to have increased, according to some motorists. The study also revealed that eight percent of respondents said they had seen more drivers using handheld phones while behind the wheel. Perhaps even more shockingly, five percent of those surveyed said they had seen cars racing on the public road.

“The frightening conclusion from our research is that a significant number of irresponsible drivers are taking advantage of quiet ‘lockdown’ roads by driving far too fast, putting lives unnecessarily at risk,” said RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams. “Since the government told the nation to stay at home many roads have become almost deserted so it’s a concern this is being seen by some as an opportunity to illegally ignore speed limits. It would only take a fraction of a second when driving well over the speed limit for something terrible to happen.

Car speeding on empty mountain road in Dartmoor National Park Devon UK

“Couple this behaviour with the fact there are many cyclists on our roads and more people are having to walk in the road to maintain a safe distance from others on pavements and you have a recipe for disaster. The last thing the NHS needs as it works night and day to help patients with coronavirus is to have to deal with people injured in avoidable road traffic collisions caused by motorists driving far too fast.

“While there are fewer drivers on the road, it appears police speed traps are more needed now than ever as some of the speeds in built-up areas appear to be excessive. Some police forces, including Greater Manchester and The Met, have already announced crackdowns and it looks as though a similar approach needs to be taken in other parts of the country. It seems very wrong that people who drive so far above the limit should get away scot-free especially during a national emergency.”