The coronavirus epidemic and the consequent lighter traffic is leading to some motorists exploiting quieter roads by driving at “highly excessive speeds” according to a recent report from the RAC.
North Yorkshire Police has warned of an emerging danger spreading across the UK as the nation faces a period with fewer cars on the road.
The force highlighted that opportunist drivers are putting their foot down on emptier roads and breaking the law in the process.
Rule-breaking aside, the erratic behaviour could have wider safety implications. Assistant Chief Constable Mike Walker said: “These actions can have fatal consequences which tie up emergency services.”
Police are urging speedsters “not to tie up valuable police or NHS resources by committing dangerous but preventable offences.”
Law enforcers have reported an increase in offences on the road since social distancing measures have taken hold of the country.
More drivers have been found travelling without a seatbelt, using their mobiles behind the wheel and even drink or drug-driving.
Mr 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. These actions can have fatal consequences which tie up emergency services and medical resources at a time when they are needed most.”
The police chief explained that their duty to uphold the law and keep the roads safe for everyone still remains despite the global health crisis.
He said that those caught flouting the law will be dealt with accordingly. “Let me be very clear – motorcyclists and drivers should be staying at home unless their journey falls into one of the essential criteria outlined by the government.”
Current government advice urges the public to only leave home for food, health reasons, or work, where working from home isn’t possible.
Motorists have been told garages will remain open for essential repairs while the spread of infection continues.
Although MOT exemptions will take effect from 30th March, drivers will be prosecuted if their vehicles are deemed unsafe.
Offences of speeding, use of mobile phones whilst driving etc carry the potential for endorsement of penalty points or, even more seriously, disqualification from driving in addition to large financial penalties.
The message is clear.
Stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. But, if you DO have to venture out onto the roads, then do so safely and whilst complying with all road traffic legislation. Otherwise, the police will not hesitate in taking action.
For all Motoring enquiries
If you have been cautioned by the police for a motoring offence in Essex or have received a summons to appear in court, please contact Peter Butterfield on 01206 369889 or via e-mail.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.