'Extreme' speeding soars by 142% in London during lockdown

‘Extreme’ speeding soars by 142% in London with 10 people killed in road crashes during lockdown as police issue warning to stop ‘race track’ driving over bank holiday

  • Extreme speeding in London has risen by 142 per cent during lockdown compared to the same period last year
  • A total of 10 people have been killed in crashes in the capital since March 23
  • Police have urged drivers to stay safe ahead of the bank holiday weekend
  • They say road accidents put ‘additional, yet avoidable pressure on the NHS’

Extreme speeding in London has surged by 142 per cent during lockdown compared with the same period last year, police have revealed. 

Officers have issued more than 4,000 enforcement notices in the capital since emergency measures came in on March 23 – a 71 per cent increase on the total of just over 2,300 handed out in 2019.

And on Thursday, Scotland Yard announced that 10 people have been killed in road crashes since the lockdown began, despite there being 40 per cent less traffic on the roads.

One driver turned the near-abandoned roads into his own personal racetrack as friends filmed him on the wild ride in Bromley, south east London, last month

In response to the shocking figures, police have issued a speed warning in London ahead of the bank holiday weekend, urging drivers to only make essential journeys in a safe manner.

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox said: ‘The majority of Londoners have followed Government advice and have stayed at home.

‘However, a small number of individuals have gone against the advice and have used this opportunity to abuse the less congested roads and drive at excess speed and in many cases extreme speeds.

Detective Superintendent Andy Cox has urged drivers in London to stay safe over the bank holiday weekend

‘In doing so, their actions increase the risk to their own safety and that of other road users and in the event of a collision can lead to devastating consequences for themselves, and bereaved family and friends.

‘Going into the bank holiday weekend, we urge drivers to only make the most essential journeys and to do so sensibly, safely and lawfully.

‘During these unprecedented times, dealing with road traffic collisions puts a lot of additional, yet avoidable pressure on the NHS and other emergency services, who are working on the frontline 24 hours a day to keep London safe.

‘Traffic officers continue to police the roads, 24/7, and will use enforcement against those breaking the law. Our message is simple; slow down, respect the speed limits, you’re not only risking your life but those of other people.’

Garden designer Helen Birch knows of the added complications of traffic-related injuries during lockdown after her foot was crushed under a wheel as she crossed a road in north London just before Covid-19 emergency measures came in.

She is now recovering from an agonising open ankle fracture, which is potentially life-changing.

Motorists blasted their horns in outrage as the man weaved between traffic at break-neck speed in the leafy suburb. Extreme speeding in London has risen by 142 per cent in lockdown

After spending five days in hospital, Ms Birch was trapped at home for five weeks, unable to weight-bear on her leg, and her rehabilitation has stalled because of the lockdown.

She said: ‘Understandably, NHS physios have been deployed to helping patients in the ICU, as have some consultants and other medical staff.

‘Normally, with this type of injury, you’d be seen every two weeks in hospital, at least at first.

Garden designer Helen Birch is recovering after her foot was crushed under a wheel as she crossed a road in north London just before lockdown began

‘Obviously non-urgent appointments have all been cancelled and I had to wait five weeks before staff were free to see me. Now it will be another three months before I can see a specialist, and before any physio is available.

‘This would normally be a very busy time for me work-wise and because I work outdoors, I would have been able to work safely and within social distancing rules.

‘I’ve had to turn down work. Doubly frustrating is that because of my injury, I can’t even use the time to do the things I don’t usually have time for, all because of someone driving dangerously on near-empty roads.’

Anne Weaver, head of trauma at the Royal London Hospital and consultant for the London Air Ambulance, urged drivers and riders to abide by speed limits and look out for pedestrians and cyclists.

She said: ‘In the weeks since lockdown, I have personally treated several patients who were cycling and have been seriously injured or killed because another road user has not seen them or has driven recklessly on roads that are quieter and more open than usual.

‘Until you’ve actually been into the hospitals and particularly the critical care units, you can’t imagine the pressure hospital staff are under trying to save people with coronavirus.

Police chased a man who was clocked at 151mph on the M1 near London last month, before getting out of the car and fleeing on foot

‘Our NHS teams are working tirelessly to help anyone who needs us, but if we can prevent additional injuries and fatalities, it will save further heartbreak at this incredibly difficult time.’

Jenny Buchanan, a partner at Fieldfisher law firm, said: ‘It’s completely senseless that anyone would do anything to further pressurise our overstretched health and emergency services so needlessly.

‘A lot of the people out on the roads are health care workers cycling, walking and running to work.

‘To endanger them, and anyone else, by going out on the roads and driving like you’re on some kind of race track is beyond words.’

The road traffic collisions expert added: ‘Perhaps if they knew the type of injuries we deal with following road traffic collisions – people having to have a leg amputated or left seriously brain-injured – they’d think twice about behaving like the worst type of idiot.’

The police are currently investigating the collision in which Ms Birch was hurt.

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