Coronavirus: Speeding drivers treating empty roads like racetracks

Published 15 April 2020

Police have warned of excessive speeding on quieter roads, with the majority of the public under Stay At Home lockdown orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

A Mercedes-Benz driver on the M1 near Leicestershire was caught doing 151mph over the Bank Holiday weekend. Detective Superintendent Andy Cox posted footage of the pursuit, with the driver doing more than double the legal limit (70mph).

One accident - reported by Hants Road Policing - required the use of five fire appliances, three ambulances and four police cars to attend the scene. The vehicle crashed into a tree on an unlit country road after three people, all from different households, went for a drive 30 miles from home. There was no reason stated as to why they were out driving.

Other instances include a driver doing 97mph in a 40mph zone on the A10, an Audi recorded at 105mph on a 60mph stretch of the A13, and three drivers on the A14 in Suffolk last week detected at speeds of 102, 103 and 109mph

A driver was stopped on the A10 in north London for driving at 60mph in a 40 limit. The same driver was stopped at 67 on the same stretch of road the very next day.

While key workers and people who can't work from home can continue driving to work, the Government has insisted that people should only be driving for essential reasons. These include shopping for food and medicine (which must be as infrequent as possible), and any medical need, i.e. to donate blood or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.

"Speeding increases the risk of a collision which could lead to a serious injury or even a fatality. In today’s climate that puts unnecessary pressure on the NHS and could potentially deprive a desperate COVID-19 patient of vital medical care," said GEM road safety officer Neil Worth.


connollyt    on 16 April 2020

M69 between Leicester and Coventry has been like it since this started

gavsmit    on 16 April 2020

Every morning I'm awoken by the roar of motorbikes treating the local roads like the TT races. I watched a motorbike tear down the M27 yesterday at over 100mph despite there being 50mph limits for stupid 'smart' motorway works and speed cameras being active (false number plate maybe?).

Every time I go on my walk for my daily allowed exercise, I see new bashed-up bus stops / bollards / fences / railings from the previous night's idiots driving / riding too fast and crashing. I pity the emergency services having to deal with the mess of these selfish nutters on top of everything else at the moment.

These are exceptional times when the stupid and selfish will take advantage when everyone else is at their lowest so much more severe punishments should be handed out to these m****s, or 'smart' punishments that hit them where it hurts them personally to make them think twice - like getting them to fund the economic recovery and pay for their damage by paying higher rates of tax for the rest of their lives, or forced employment if claiming benefits.

hissingsid    on 16 April 2020

Let the punishment fit the crime.
Confiscate their toys and put them in the crusher.

Engineer Andy    on 16 April 2020

Indeed - especially all the 'modded' cars.

DLDLDL    on 20 April 2020

Whenever the police find a "modded" car do they check that the mods have been reported to the insurance company?

I bet in the vast majority of cases they have not been - so the vehicle could be confiscated for driving without valid insurance.

Takes a bit of time - but word would soon get round.

connollyt    on 17 April 2020

why does it seem to be AUDI,BMW and MERC drivers in the majority

glidermania    on 17 April 2020

why does it seem to be AUDI,BMW and MERC drivers in the majority

The report mentioned a mercedes and audi once out of all the examples of speeding yet you fall back on your stupidity.

Edited by glidermania on 17/04/2020 at 19:40

connollyt    on 18 April 2020

the majority of cars flying past me were audi bmw and mercs tell it as i saw it

MartyF    on 20 April 2020

Correct though. From my experience on motorways, BMW Driver’s seem incapable of driving sensibly. Owners of fast cars generally feel justified in driving like maniacs, just to prove the power of their cars. Maybe its time to ensure cars cannot exceed speed limits by a black box and GPS. It will come.

itdave    on 21 April 2020

I have been driving for many years now and I can only agree that, from experience and from seeing it happen, it is usually Audi and VW drivers who tend to drive like idiots and have zero condsideration for anyone else on the road. I tend to keep to speed limits as I cannot afford the fines, not want points on my licence but I find in 99 cases out of 100, when a car starts tailgating me It is pretty near always an Audi, VW or Mercedes.

Husbandofstinky    on 20 April 2020

Well all I can say is that I have (on paper) a very quick A6 and drive like an old f*** despite being a very long way off state retirement age. A comfort wagon.

It is (allegedly) the first premium badge vehicle I have owned, although I just see it as a V6 Passat. Your take on that is entirely up to you0

Anecdotally, I find that idiots drive anything and everything on the road. Sorry no stereo types.

They get caught, simples, they lose their licence. End of.

All I hope is that no one else is involved in that process on the road.

Live long and prosper

John of Gloster    on 23 April 2020

Why mainly German cars... simples ...Have a look at any supermarket car park ... Us Brits excel at importing foreign built cars which is good for the economy. Unfortunately, not the UK economy. Thus exporting jobs and careers from what was once the indigenous UK Car Industry. Now no longer an endangered species largely extinct and when it suits all the foreign controlled remnants of UK Industry, when it suits them, just like Honda and all the rest warned for many years, they will up sticks and leave.

They will still want to sell their stuff here to take advantage of wider UK margins. Ask BMW about that which Former EU nation provided their best returns. Finally, my twenty-one year old Rover is still capable of exceeding TWICE the NSL.. The last car I bought was an MG.. Made in the Peoples Republic of China!

Only in the UK! Land of choice... choosing .... Industrial decline... Plus UK LAST!

Nothing new...Orwell's argument was that as a result of cultivated stupidity amongst the ruling classes the country had little need for these "intellectuals" and so they "lived in a state of chronic discontent with the existing order". Those ruling classes now? The MSM and Westminster Class. Along with all the ex=spurts they pull up from their ever on standby pool to substantiate their poor decisions.... Clearly still demonstrating that every pandemic day. Such experts wisdom AFTER the event!! Note how when a "new" and wiser expert is pulled up and does not follow the MSM's agenda, never used again. The BBC in the spearhead of all that harmful to the Nation agenda stuff.

It's what we allow to happen.

So there. Meantime, I'm off to dance on the rubble at Longbridge...

Austin of ENGLAND.. How very UN-PC ..!!!!

Car Crusader    on 17 April 2020

Give them community service picking fruit and veg in the fields to assist with the national emergency.

gavsmit    on 18 April 2020

On the night of my last post, a drunk/drug driver overturned a van whilst speeding down our road (then ran off after neighbours rescued him from the wreckage). It needed the attendance of multiple emergency services to sort out, as well as the electricity company to make safe a lamppost. A friend was about to drive round that corner just after it happened - they could have been killed if seconds earlier. Indeed my whole family could've been killed if we were out for our once a day evening exercise walk.

Then my father-in-law who lives in Wales was awoken on the same night when a nutter overturned their car into his neighbour's front garden whilst driving too fast.

These are exceptional times and these idiots are putting all our lives in danger and selfishly putting the emergency services under completely unnecessary stress too. They need to be dealt with under emergency laws that give them the most severe sentencing possible to deter others. At times like this, people who commit these crimes show their true worth to society.

Oliver Gibbins    on 20 April 2020

I never see Police led speed traps on any other roads other than main A roads. Speeding drivers on inner city roads put lives at risk and create noise. Most of them are driving modified cars which probably wouldn’t be insured. The police should be tackling this issue and improving road safety. The courts should support the police with enough of a deterrent. One chap getting caught on consecutive nights shows the system isn’t working.

Cabbage patch    on 20 April 2020

BM's may be the ultimate driving machines but unfortunately they are often bought by idiots who think it will make them the ultimate driver. That is why I ran an understated black Subaru Legacy turbo estate with the little turbo badge covered. Most thought it was a hea*** but not the yobo at traffic lights in Bristol in his RS2000 turbo that I left in a cloud of smoke generated by his front wheel-only drive!

NEIL SCARLETT    on 20 April 2020


Husbandofstinky    on 20 April 2020


Philip L Riddell    on 20 April 2020

I live in Birmingham on a road that has a 20 mph limit.
Like all the other commenters we are suffering speeders even more so since lockdown.
They are treating the roads like race tracks.
There is one driver who repeatedly drives down the road in excess of 60 mph and from 50 years of driving I estimate he has actually driven in excess of 70 mph on occasions.
The only way this can be stopped is by his actually killing somebody- God forbid- or the police stopping him and all the others with speed traps.

Adam Nakar    on 20 April 2020

While roads are not racetracks, if we have speed limits that are set based on roads being over-capacity, or increasingly being spitefully set based purely on anti-car policies, then it should be no surprise whatsoever that the limits are treated with utter contempt. Rightly so.

Hiwayuser    on 20 April 2020

I’m curious about how a speed limit can be set in a “spiteful “ manner.
Road signs that warn of “Speed cameras “ ahead, large hiviz yellow camera boxes 2 metres high and thick white lines on the road. Hardly spiteful. More like nanny State.
Speed kills. Please slow down, especially when so many people are taking exercise on the streets.

MARTIN PARR    on 20 April 2020

Are we allowed to send a registration plate with make of car to the Crime Commisioner, or direct to Police for them to send a warning letter through the post? May or may not do any good but a police vehicle strategically placed around the time in the area where the driver was speeding? Just so damn annoying to see a car and motorbikes at 50mph on 30mph roads, one idiot undertaking and overtaking at will on an ordinary long road in Hull.

Neil Sturgeon    on 21 April 2020

It's not just Cities, town or major Rds have speeding vehicles. I live in a ', really' isolated village in Lincolnshire where there is a food factory nearby speed limit of 30mph, but its a race track 60 + seems to be the average,. Of course the boys&girls never come out or around. Forget farm vehicles only going 25mph believe me they go a lot faster

aethelwulf    on 21 April 2020

The police are for too busy examining shopping bags for 'non-essential' goods to be catching dangerous drivers.You have to get your priorities right. Maximum publicity for stopping the curfew busters it seems to me.
But it is a speeders paradise at the moment out there with little to prevent you speeding , except your ability which becomes clear when you hit a tree. I have never heard of a Piccanto like mine being caught at over 100 mph though. It would have blown first long before that, I vote all convicted speeders must drive a Piccanto hereon in. ( A Piccanto 1 as well)

John Fairbairn    on 24 April 2020

" I vote all convicted speeders must drive a Piccanto hereon in. ( A Piccanto 1 as well"

Or a Mitsubishi Mirage. With a 3-cyl engine, 100+ mph is a dream. And you sure won't outrun the police. Here in the US, we are seeing the same sort of idiocy. I live on a posted 30 mph residential street in Minnesota. Yesterday we had a guy in a pick-em-up truck stop at the stop sign half a block North of us, then floor it. By the time he passed my driveway he was doing an estimated 60, and over 75 before he ran the stop sign a block and a half South of us. A little Honda on the cross street there reached the intersection about 2 seconds later. If he had been 4 seconds earlier, he would have been dead.

Our police force got 13 urgent requests to find this idiot as he laced our city's residential streets, but sadly couldn't catch him even when he doubled back onto streets he already had traversed. Oh, and he was driving a truck that had a gutted muffler, so you could hear him accelerating for blocks. This was a very deliberate effort to disturb the peace and to flout the speed laws. I hope someone catches him before he kills someone other than himself.

BTW, this is only a personally-observed recounting. On the Web, there now are idiots who are bragging about having driven coast to coast on the freeways in as little as 29 hours, and several of these speed demons have been clocked and apprehended doing more than 160 mph.

As for those who smugly inquire what harm it does, consider this. One of these jerks doing an estimated 170 mph piled up his car. His car blew a left-front tire and he lost control, crossed the drainage median, and launched upward over 15 feet into the air. Coming down, he hit the windshield of an 80-foot, capacity-loaded semi going the other direction at 70 mph, for a combined impact of well more than 200 mph. The semi slewed toward the median, jackknifed, and the trailer flipped over eight times over a distance of about 900 feet while shedding its entire load of machinery parts and hardware all over the Eastbound lanes. The tractor and the car went back through the median and tumbled several times over about 500 feet before coming to a rest, shedding scrap all over the place in the Westbound lanes. Fourteen other vehicles became involved in hitting either the tractor, the trailer, or various stuff on the highway. Several of these went off the road and were thus involved in secondary accidents. Four people beside the original driver and the semi driver died, and nine more were hospitalized in severe or critical condition.

The resulting mess closed the freeway for two days (with huge economic losses for truckers and business vehicles going both directions. In addition, this jackass tied up huge amounts of critically-needed emergency equipment, first-response personnel, and hospital space, to say nothing of the wasted County and State funds.

Now tell me, where in this was there anyone "suddenly appearing" from a side road? This was a Midwestern US state, clear straight road, and clear weather in mid-morning. THAT'S why it's not a good idea. That's why breaking the law is stupid. And that's why I have no patience whatsoever with people who say, "What's the harm?"

W.Nixon    on 21 April 2020

The A21 on Bank Holiday Weekends should be renamed the killing ground, especially for motorcyclist.

Cliff Hardman    on 21 April 2020

There has been so many cutbacks of traffic police, certainly in Lancashire, that speed enforcement is virtually NIL. I was a traffic officer for 20 years and there were 60 PC’s under me, same place has 12, but sickness etc. Not very many. Vehicles kill more people than guns, knives, etc but people just regard them as an ‘accident’. We need a separate Road Policing Unit as politicians call it now. Driving standards are at there lowest I have ever seen. Something needs to be done as a matter of urgency or ??????

steadyeddie    on 21 April 2020

There has been so many cutbacks of traffic police, certainly in Lancashire, that speed enforcement is virtually NIL. I was a traffic officer for 20 years and there were 60 PC’s under me, same place has 12, but sickness etc. Not very many. Vehicles kill more people than guns, knives, etc but people just regard them as an ‘accident’. We need a separate Road Policing Unit as politicians call it now. Driving standards are at there lowest I have ever seen. Something needs to be done as a matter of urgency or ??????

I very much applaud and support your suggestion of a 'Road Policing Unit'. Maybe we could encourage like-minded folk to lobby their MP's to prompt a govt debate or start a petition to get the matter aired in Parliament.

DLDLDL    on 21 April 2020

There are I believe a couple of such units already:

Central Motorway Police Group - originally covering the motorways in Warwickshire, West Mercia, West Midlands and Staffordshire - although Warwickshire and West Mercia have pulled out - it looks like for political reasons.

North West Motorway Police Group - originally Cheshire, Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester Police - although Lancashire have announced that they are pulling out - for "operational" reasons.

They seem like a good idea, the police are specialist motorway drivers and there is focus on motoring offences, motorway safety and "transiting crime".

Are there published figures to show that such groups have the impact that we would hope they would?

gavsmit    on 21 April 2020

Despite my previous posts on this matter, I'm not a huge fan of speed traps / cameras everywhere - they seem to trap more people paying more attention to the road / conditions than their speedo than they catch the real nutters driving like complete loons that are crashing everywhere at the moment (probably with cloned / false number plates so evading capture from automated speed cameras).

Unfortunately, like everything in life, those of us who drive sensibly whilst using common sense and enjoy the freedom and joy of motoring have had that taken away from us by the idiots that have selfishly and stupidly abused it with their anti-social behaviour, thus automated cameras everywhere that may have earned a lot of money, but have created a lot of resentment and negative feeling.

It's not the police's fault - it's all the cuts they've had to endure. We need to face facts that a significant percentage of our population are selfish, dangerous idiots / criminals and we need a strong, visible, police presence to counter that, not just speed cameras - not even killing someone is enough to deter some of these vile people.

Count Rollo    on 21 April 2020

Back 'in the day' I remember an 'ad' on the back pages of numerous 'motor' magazines which read, 'Anyone doing under 100MPH, -MOVE OVER!' Happily that never applied to me with my Lotus Elan, and a sustained ton++ was a doddle. One cheeky sod in a Jag once pulled behind me and flashed me to get over. He simply vanished almost backwards when I 'hit it! Over a vast mileage and umpteen years I never had any kind of smack-up, none occasioned by getting what the Kanuk's call, 'A ten cent jag on.' Some clown did hit my car TWICE in a car park once!
Currently I drive an Eclass merc 3.2 diesel, chipped and ferociously fast when 'provoked', but my licence is too valuable to risk, and, as thereare no points on it (yet) I'm mighty careful.
Much of the 'fun' from the old days has been legislated out of existence, in the endless quest for bigger revenue streams.
Damned if I can see anything wrong about opening up a bit on an empty motorway, can you? The letter of the law forbids it, of course, but what harm is there? 'Gweenies' and warmists will be jumping up and down! -'OOH that's terrible, that, warms the planet and produces 15 tonnes of CO2, that can kill 40,000 people a year, (it said recently, somewhere!)
Enjoy! We'll all be back at t'mill soon enough.

John Fairbairn    on 24 April 2020

Before you happily go out and speed, please see my post above.

You may 'get away with opening it up a little'. On the other hand, you may not. The consequences to others may be far more severe than you even begin to imagine, while frankly I don't give a drat what happens to you or your car.

Consider this: Most passenger car tires are rated for safe use up to about 90 mph. Beyond that, they tend to begin shedding pieces and blowing out. Your mileage may vary, but sooner or later you will blow a tire at high speed. Good luck avoiding a crash. Again, I don't care a crap about you or your car, but I pity the other people you involve in your accident.

I was a Nationally Registered EMT Advanced for six years. Tell us, have you ever had to look at someone who was decapitated by sliding an inverted car 200 or more feet on a concrete highway? Or who had been punched through by a steering column? Or whose face had been flayed away to the bone or who had been blinded by flying exploding glass? What sort of psychologic shock do you think that would cause you? What kind of trauma do you think others will have while trying to render aid at your accident?

Oh. I forgot. You are special. That could never happen to you.

John Fairbairn    on 24 April 2020

Just to emphasize the statement I made about tire ratings, here is a chart of the most popular speed ratings for passenger car tires. Most sold are the ones in the S category, but yours may be rated lower. The character that determines the manufacturer's speed rating is the last character in the tire size designation on the sidewall of the tire. And that designation is for travel on the tire at that speed for only ten minutes.

For instance, for an 'S'-rated tire, that would be112 mph, but that rating should be discounted substantially for prolonged travel - as much as 25% in very hot or humid weather, or in slippery conditions that can lead to tire heating from slippage. At a 25% de-rating, that would mean the 'S'-rated tire is safe for long-term travel only up to the speed of 84 mph. At a 20% de-rating for normal conditions, it would be a maximum safe long-term speed of just 89.6 mph, or just about the 90 mph I stated in my post above.

L: 120 kph 75 mph
M: 130 kph 81 mph
N: 140 kph 87 mph
P: 150 kph 93 mph
Q: 160 kph 99 mph
R: 170 kph 106 mph
S: 180 kph 112 mph
T: 190 kph 118 mph
U: 200 kph 124 mph
H: 210 kph 130 mph
V: 240 kph 149 mph

And be aware that 'peeling out' from a stop sign (or at any time) builds heat extremely rapidly. It can cause an 'S'-rated tire to fail in less than 10 seconds. If you have reached 60 to 70 mph when it fails, good luck.

Edited by John Fairbairn on 24/04/2020 at 07:25

Roy H.    on 21 April 2020

Never mind putting the car in the crusher. Confiscate it and sell it off at the local auction for the benefit of the public purse.

James A    on 21 April 2020

I used to live on the mainland and often drove in Belgium. On occasions I encountered a police traffic car. In fact it was a 'cardboard' replica, carefully placed and so lifelike even to the shadow under it. As you may imagine everybody speeding suddenly slowed until they realised they had been had.
In these days of police cuts the same ploy could be employed here. Until one has passed it is not known if it is the real McCoy or a fake.

For those caught speeding excessively, part of the punishment would be to made to watch their 'pride and joy' being crushed in front of their eyes. However, they will be allowed to continue payments, just to enforce the error of their ways.

   on 21 April 2020

Much as I deplore dangerous driving and risky manoeuvring on public roads I am inclined to agree that driving on a motorway which is empty is hardly as dangerous as driving at excessive in a populated area. At least on the Mway there should not be side-turnings from which unsuspecting drivers might emerge and all vehicles should be travelling in the one direction. I seem to remember the 70mph limit was introduced as a result of an AC Cobra travelling from London to Birmingham in about 30 minutes, not as the result of that vehicle crashing but of alarming politicians by travelling "too fast" for their comfort.

John Fairbairn    on 24 April 2020

it really does not matter a bit why the limit that is there is so. What matters is that that is the legal speed limit and you are not entitled to 'adjust' it upward because you don't like to be limited.

See my posts above for why I feel so strongly about this.

Contrary to your assertion that speed limits are placed because because of "alarming politicians by travelling (SIC) "too fast" for their comfort", most countries require requests to set limits to be adjudged for both reasonableness and factual basis. Generally this is done by observing traffic flows, determining the high and low speeds, and setting a speed limit based upon some very large percentage of the mean. For instance, where I live the state criteria is the speed at which 80% of the traffic travels unless there are specific conditions that warrant a lower speed.

I suggest that you stop considering only your own selfish and sophomoric desires to goose the gas so you can brag about it - or even so you can pat yourself on the back about doing so and surviving the experience - and consider seriously the harm you can do in so many ways by doing so.

Edited by John Fairbairn on 24/04/2020 at 07:29

Grandpa    on 28 April 2020

Totally agree, the A4440 in Worcester, a long duel carriageway is an absolute race track.
Excessive speeding on a 50mph road, residents alongside this route are getting the full impact of this horrendous speeding, noise levels are intolerable, pollution just getting worse.
It will take a serious accident that will happen before any MP or police take notice of this stupidity.
Mindless, drivers without braincells are risking their lives, other road users lives, residents quality of life, potential emergency services being required, insurance hikes for everyone....and more.

Letters to MP, police, parliament for action, speed cameras to be sited along the A4440 have been ignored, what will it take...a fatality!!

B Dudley

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