With the UK on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the volume of traffic on the roads has decreased dramatically. The emergence of emptier roads, however, has brought forth a slew of drivers ignoring speed limits—endangering other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Speeding is already dangerous enough in everyday life, but with the public facing a pandemic, it’s now even more fatal. So, if you’re out on the roads for essential travel, it’s vital that you avoid speeding during lockdown.
We’re going to take you through the main reasons why it’s important for you to keep an eye on your speedometer when you’re on the road, and the consequences you’ll face if you don’t. Get the full lowdown below!
Speeding during lockdown
Despite the fact that there are fewer motorists on the road, and less traffic to contend with, speeding has become a serious problem in some cities. According to the BBC, some speeding motorists have been clocked at travelling at more than double the limit during lockdown! The police recorded one driver speeding at 134mph in a 40mph limit in London, and another at 115mph on a 40mph road in Greater Manchester. ITV reported of a motorist that was caught speeding up to 160mph!
Research carried out by the RAC found that 44% of UK adults have seen more drivers speeding now than they did prior to lockdown. Whether it’s a case of getting carried away at seeing the open road, or assuming that the police are too preoccupied to bother pulling them up on it, drivers are ignoring limits and risking countless lives in the process. With that in mind, we’re going to explore the main reasons why it’s essential to keep an eye on your speedometer during lockdown.
Why you need to pay attention to your speed
It’s too easy to become complacent
Even if you consider yourself to be a safe driver with top notch defensive driving skills, you still run the risk of becoming complacent on the roads during lockdown. If you’re accustomed to commuting to work, you’re probably used to dealing with a high volume of motorists and constant stop-start traffic. With lockdown in place, however, you’re likely driving on roads that are far emptier than you’re used to. Though this might do wonders for cutting down your journey time, it can be a double edged sword.
If you’re driving down an empty stretch of road, you might find yourself being lulled into a false sense of security. With fewer motorists on the road, it can be all too easy to convince yourself that you don’t have to be as vigilant. Before you know it, you’re putting your foot down and you’re way above the limit—you’ve sped around the corner, only to collide with a pedestrian that you didn’t spot. Just because you’re not dealing with as many road users doesn’t mean you can leave your caution at your front door. The faster you’re going, the less time you have to react if a hazard appears. Constant vigilance is required at all times on the road!
You can’t trust other road users
Though the Highway Code urges us to pay close attention to our speedometers and follow speed limits, more often than not, drivers opt instead to gauge their speed against the speed of other drivers. Let’s say, for example, that you’re driving along a dual carriageway. The other motorists seem to be shooting ahead of you at near enough the same speed. If you’re not keeping track of your speed, you might get it in your head that you’re driving too slowly. The biggest flaw in using other drivers to measure your speed, however, is that it relies on other drivers following the rules of the road. Unfortunately, as we’ve pointed out, not everyone does.
Instead of giving in to peer pressure, or assuming that the police can’t punish all motorists for speeding, you should make it a habit to keep a close eye on your speedometer. Make sure that you know what the speed limit is in on the road you’re on and that you don’t go over it. Even 1mph over is against the law! It’s also important to point out here that speed limits are not targets. If you’re facing adverse weather conditions, or there’s some kind of issue on the road, you need to adjust your speed accordingly.
You’re risking people’s lives
It might seem obvious to point out that speeding can endanger the lives of other road users, but considering speeding is one of the most common driving offences, it certainly has to be said. If you put your foot down and go over the speed limit, you’re increasing your chances of being in an accident. The higher you go, the less likely you are to stop in time—meaning there’s a greater chance that the accident will be fatal. Let’s put this into perspective. According to Road Wise, if you hit a pedestrian at:
- 20mph there’s a 2.5% chance they’ll be killed
- 30mph there’s a 20% chance they’ll be killed
- 35mph there’s a 50% chance they’ll be killed
- 40mph there’s a 90% chance they’ll be killed
The faster you drive, the longer it takes for you to brake and stop the car. If you don’t spot a road user, or they’re not paying attention to you, you will not be able to stop the car in time. Speed limits are in place for a reason. It doesn’t matter if the roads are clear, or you’re looking to cut loose after being cramped inside all day, do not treat speed limits as a guideline.
It can place unnecessary strain on emergency services
As you know, the coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption to the NHS and emergency services. With the sheer number of coronavirus patients to take care of, not to mention those suffering from other ailments, resources are being stretched thin. The last thing anyone needs, then, is to have to deal with people injured in car accidents that could have been avoided had speed limits been adhered to.
A serious collision on the road could result in numerous emergency services staff arriving on scene. If it’s a multi-vehicle pile-up, then they might have to send multiple ambulances. If someone involved in the accident tests positive for coronavirus, or shows symptoms, then that means all emergency staff involved would need to self-isolate. This would lead to a staff shortage at a time when all hands are needed on deck. That’s not even including the amount of time you might have to stay at hospital in order to recuperate.
Emergency services and NHS staff are risking their lives every day to save lives. The least that we can do is follow speed limits and stay safe on the road if we have to be out and about.
It can place unnecessary strain on breakdown providers
One thing you might not have considered is that if you’re involved in an accident during lockdown, your car will need to undergo repairs. If it’s completely wrecked, breakdown services will need to be called to take your vehicle away. Many garages are shut due to the pandemic, and those that are open have limited staff on hand. For the most part, they’ll be working on fixing cars for key workers who are dependent on them for work. You can imagine how frustrating it might be, then, for them to have to work on a car that wouldn’t have been ruined had speed limits been followed.
If you’re dependent on your car for work or other essential travel, the last thing you want is to end up in an accident. If the damage to your car is extensive enough, a garage will have to order new car parts. Given our current situation, however, it’s likely that they’ll have difficulty sourcing certain parts. As a result, you could be waiting weeks for a full repair.
If you’re out on the roads, you’ve got to remember that it’s not just you that you have to think about. Being a driver means being responsible for the lives of all road users you encounter. Whether you mean to or not, speeding can risk the lives of everyone on the road. That includes those that are heading to and from essential work. The volume of traffic on the roads might be different, but the speed limits remain very much the same.