New figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) show a noticeable increase in speeding during lockdown. The data showed the number of cars exceeding speed limits during April, May and June increased compared with the same months of 2019.

On motorways, the difference was relatively small, with 53 percent of cars exceeding the limit. That was a minor increase on the 52 percent observed speeding during the same period last year.

For single-carriageway roads where the 60 mph National Speed Limit applies, however, the difference was much greater. During lockdown, the data shows 17 percent of cars were speeding, up from 10 percent during the second quarter of 2019.

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

And on 30 mph roads, which tend to be found in built-up or residential areas, the figures suggest almost two-thirds (63 percent) of cars were speeding between April and June. Last year, that figure stood at 56 percent.

The proportion of vehicles exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph or more also rose across all three types of road. During lockdown, 15 percent of cars on motorways exceeded the limit by 10 mph or more, whereas only 13 percent exceeded the limit by such an amount in the same quarter of 2019.

On 60 mph roads, the proportion of vehicles travelling 10 or more mph over the speed limit rose from one percent during the second quarter of 2019 to three percent during the same period in 2020. Similarly, the proportion of vehicles travelling at 40 mph or more in 30 mph zones rose from six percent between April and June 2019 to eight percent during lockdown.

The figures come after a telematics firm said it had seen speeding incidents triple during the coronavirus lockdown, while research by the RAC found 20 police forces caught drivers speeding at more than 100 mph during the first few weeks of lockdown. The RAC's head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said the figures laid bare the problem of speeding during lockdown.

“This data confirms what we previously suspected: lower traffic volumes sadly led to some shocking levels of speed limit disobedience, particularly on roads with a 30 mph limit," he said. "This dangerous behaviour unnecessarily put lives at risk during the first national lockdown when more people were walking and cycling. Empty roads should not be an excuse to drive dangerously and it would be frightening to think one of the legacies of the lockdown is a complete disregard for speed limits and other road users’ safety.”

Average speed cameras on the M3 motorway Fleet Hampshire UK