Two-thirds of Britain’s police forces caught people driving in excess of 100mph during the first three weeks of the coronavirus lockdown, an investigation has found.
Police data obtained by the RAC revealed that the highest speed was clocked at 151mph on the M62 motorway in West Yorkshire, which was 81mph over the limit.
The next fastest recorded speed was 140mph on the A14 in Suffolk.
The other five forces which detected motorists driving at more than 130mph were Northamptonshire, Gwent, Staffordshire, the Metropolitan Police and Kent.
RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams described the speeds as “truly shocking” and warned that motorists travelling this fast have “virtually no time to react should anything unexpected happen”.
He went on: “Some drivers have taken advantage of quieter roads to speed excessively, putting the lives of others at risk at the worst possible time.
“It’s encouraging that so many police forces have taken firm action even during the lockdown, which sends a strong message to other would-be offenders.”
Department for Transport figures show that road traffic was around two-thirds lower than normal for the first few weeks after the lockdown was introduced on March 23, when people were urged to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel.
The RAC sent freedom of information requests to all forces in Britain. Twenty out of the 30 forces to provide data recorded speeds in excess of 100mph.
Across Britain there were 17,363 speeding offences recorded on roads with 30mph limits.
Mr Williams went on: “The figures for speeding offences on 30mph roads are particularly worrying as far more people have been walking and cycling due to the lockdown.
“As some schools and nurseries in England begin to open their doors from this week, there will be even more pedestrians on the roads, so we urge every driver to obey the speed limit and keep all road users safe.”
Meanwhile, insurer Co-op reported a 50% increase in the number of claims it received relating to collisions involving cyclists between March 20 and May 28 compared with the previous 10-week period.
The firm urged motorists to “give plenty of space to cyclists”.
Joshua Harris of road safety charity Brake said: “We implore all drivers to always keep well within speed limits and to be extra vigilant as people use local roads for their daily exercise.
“It’s vital that drivers are aware of the risk they pose to other, more vulnerable, road users and to make sure they slow down, only overtake when absolutely safe to do so and always leave plenty of room.”
People are being urged to avoid public transport if possible, and use alternatives such as cycling, walking and driving.
– Here are the highest speeds by drivers breaking the limit between March 23 and April 13, recorded by police forces that provided data to the RAC (speed limit in brackets):
1. West Yorkshire Police: 151mph (70mph)
2. Suffolk Constabulary: 140mph (70mph)
3. Northamptonshire Police: 138mph (70mph)
4. Gwent Police: 136mph (70mph)
5. Staffordshire Police: 135mph (70mph)
6. Metropolitan Police: 134mph (40mph)
7. Kent Police: 132mph (70mph)
8. Humberside Police: 130mph (70mph)
9. Police Scotland: 128mph (70mph)
10. Lancashire Constabulary: 120mph (70mph)
11. Merseyside Police: 115mph (70mph)
12. North Wales Police: 111mph (70mph)
13. Norfolk Constabulary: 110mph (70mph)
14. Derbyshire Constabulary: 108mph (40mph)
14. South Wales Police: 108mph (50mph)
14. West Midlands Police: 108mph (70mph)
17. Gloucestershire Constabulary: 106mph (70mph)
18. Bedfordshire Constabulary: 104mph (40mph)
19. Devon & Cornwall Police: 101mph (70mph)
19. Hampshire Constabulary: 101mph (70mph)
21. Cheshire Constabulary: 95mph (70mph)
22. West Mercia Police: 92mph (60mph)
23. Cumbria Constabulary: 89mph (60mph)
24. Dyfed-Powys Police: 88mph (60mph)
24. South Yorkshire Police: 88mph (60mph)
26. Cleveland Police: 86mph (70mph)
26. Northumbria Police: 86mph (70mph)
28. Dorset Police: 73mph (50mph)
29. Leicestershire Police: 58mph (50mph)
30. Durham Constabulary: 44mph (30mph)