UK forces warn drivers to prevent
crashes to ease burden on NHS
during coronavirus

02.04.2020

Police forces across the UK have reported an increase in vehicles exceeding the speed limits excessively after roads became quieter as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Far fewer vehicles have been using the roads in recent weeks since the government urged people to stay at home to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

But some drivers have seen this as an opportunity to speed excessively, with recent offences reported in areas including London, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire.

Forces have been warning motorists only to drive if it is essential and to take extra care if they do drive to ease the burden on the already overstretched NHS.

During the last two weeks, the Metropolitan Police has detected a number of high-speed offences on Greater London’s roads, including a vehicle travelling at 140mph in a 70mph zone on the A3 and another travelling at 134mph in a 40mph zone on the A10.

Other offences included 100mph in a 70mph zone on the A13 and 76mph in a 50mph zone on the A12.

Det Supt Andy Cox has been leading a campaign to reduce collisions on London’s roads during the pandemic, allowing the NHS to focus on COVID-19 patients.

He made a direct video appeal to motorists on social media, urging them to slow down, drive safely and lawfully. The film has already attracted 97,000 views.

He said: “Speeding is our biggest cause of fatal collisions in London. Fatal collisions cause devastation to the family, those connected and to the driver themselves. I’ve personally seen that devastation.

“But at the moment it’s especially poignant. Fatal or serious collisions require the use of the NHS, fire and police - all heavily busy because of COVID-19. But it’s worse than that.

“Those involved in a serious collision are likely to end up in hospital, depriving people suffering from COVID-19 of precious NHS resources, precious medical care and potentially hospital beds.”

He warned: “Drivers, we’re out there every single day. My teams are out enforcing. They will be tonight, they will be tomorrow, they will be every single day.”

North Yorkshire Police also warned motorists to stick to the rules of the road after detecting highly-excessive speeds and other driving offences on key routes across the county.

Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said: “While many people are following the very clear government advice to stay at home and only make essential journeys, sadly we have seen some motorists using the roads irresponsibly, with highly-excessive speeds recorded on key routes and other dangerous offences such as using a handheld phone while driving.

“These actions can have fatal consequences which tie up emergency service and medical resources at a time when they are needed most.”

Other forces and safer roads partnerships have been issuing similar warnings to drivers and have been supporting Road Safety GB’s #TakeExtraCare campaign, which urges drivers to take extra care if they must make an essential journey during the pandemic.

The virus has also had an impact on road safety across the world, with reports of increased high speed offences in Canada and the USA.

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