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More than 40,000 drivers caught speeding on Suffolk roads in 2020 despite lockdown restrictions



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Thousands of drivers were caught exceeding speed limits on Suffolk roads last year, despite the UK being advised to 'stay at home' for most of the year.

That's according to new data obtained by car insurance firm Confused.com, which also shows that one of the worst roads for speeding in the East of England is just a few miles away from the Suffolk border.

The data, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, shows that 41,220 speeding offences were reported in the county during 2020.

Thousands of drivers were caught speeding in Suffolk last year, despite the UK being advised to 'stay at home' for most of the year
Thousands of drivers were caught speeding in Suffolk last year, despite the UK being advised to 'stay at home' for most of the year

But, while the number of reported speeding offences in Suffolk was lower than most of the county's neighbours in the East of England, such as Norfolk and Essex, one county reported even fewer motorists for driving too fast.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary recorded 35,698 speeding incidents over the last year.

Meanwhile, Essex Police reported 49,485 speeding drivers over 2020, and Norfolk had the highest number of recorded offences over the 12 months of the counties in the East of England, with 53,472.

7,000 speeding offences were reported on the A134 in Thetford in 2020
7,000 speeding offences were reported on the A134 in Thetford in 2020

Norfolk also had one of the worst roads in the region for speeding offences, catching 7,000 offenders on the A134 in Thetford - just miles from Brandon, Mildenhall and Bury St Edmunds - last year.

The figures showed that in the East of England as a whole, drivers collectively paid out at least £28 million in fines for speeding in 2020.

The number of drivers caught breaking the speed limit in the East of England last year accounted for 12 per cent of the total UK speeding offences last year.

In total, 2.2 million motorists were caught driving above the speed limit, hitting speeds of up to 163mph in some regions.

A speed sign. Picture: Gary Browne
A speed sign. Picture: Gary Browne

While this is a 10 per cent drop compared to 2019, officials still think that number is high considering that the UK spent much of the past 12 months being advised to stay home or stay local.

Offences did drop in April though following the announcement of a UK-wide lockdown - although 84,452 motorists were still caught travelling above the speed limit during this time.

However, this almost doubled to 165,609 in May when restrictions started to ease. And offences continued to increase over the summer, peaking at 225,297 in July.

If a driver is caught speeding, they’ll be on the receiving end of a minimum £100 fine.

A Community Speed Watch gun
A Community Speed Watch gun

This means that UK drivers collectively paid out an eye-watering £200 million in fines last year. However, in some cases, drivers could expect to be paying a significant amount more.

A change in the law in 2017 means that drivers caught speeding could have to pay up to 175 per cent of their weekly salary in fines, depending on the extent of the offence.

According to research by Confused.com, nearly four in five (79 per cent of) drivers admit to breaking the speed limit in the past.

Despite this figure, more than half (52 per cent) of UK drivers don't think its acceptable to speed under any circumstance.

However, almost at third (30 per cent) of motorists think it's okay to speed in an emergency, and one in eight (12 per cent) think it's fine if there aren't any other cars on the road.

This could explain why there were still a high number of speeding offences during 2020.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of UK drivers think people are more likely to speed at the moment because roads are quieter.

But according to FOI data obtained in 2020, 44 per cent of speed cameras are switched on either permanently or temporarily, so it's possible that drivers are more likely to get caught than they realise.

Regardless of the circumstances, officials say speeding is an extremely dangerous offence which puts people at risk.

And according to Confused.com’s research, there are many ways it has affected offenders.

More than two in five (42 per cent) drivers have been caught speeding at one point, and of these, one in seven (15 per cent) claim their life was affected as a result, including losing their job.

A third (31 per cent) also claimed their car insurance has increased since being caught.

Speeding is considered one of the 'fatal four' driving offences by police, which, alongside drink driving, driving while using a mobile phone and not wearing a seatbelt, makes you more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a crash.

Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, said: “It’s worrying to think that many people took advantage of quieter roads during lockdown to ramp up the speed.

"Speed limits are in place for a reason – to keep road users and pedestrians safe.

“If you’re caught speeding, you could be paying out up to 175 per cent of your weekly income – this could be up to £1,000 for some drivers, or £2,500 on a motorway.

"But it is confusing to work out the penalty with the rules changing depending on the severity of the offence.

"Our speeding fine calculator will show just how much you could potentially be forking out, even for going a few miles an hour over the limit.

"Stick to the limit and avoid a hefty fine.”

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here

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