Avon and Somerset Police has stepped up patrols after a rise in drivers caught speeding since the start of the lockdown.

Officers say 1,391 drivers exceeded the speed limit between 23 March and 22 April.

144 of those caught were classed as high end offences with the driver travelling so fast that they will automatically face prosecution due to the severity of their offences.

Police say those choosing to abuse quieter roads by driving significantly above the speed limit are putting other road users at risk, as well as families and cyclists out taking daily exercise.

65%

Less traffic on the roads in the early weeks of the lockdown

Despite the falling traffic levels, police say the number of speeding offences is the same as usual.

Those caught speeding in recent weeks have been doing so at far greater speeds than normal, according to the force.

Credit: PA

We would hope that at a time when the whole country is being called on to unite in staying home and protecting ourselves, each other and the NHS, prevalent speeding would not be an issue to which we would have to dedicate valuable police resource.

Trevor Simpson, Avon and Somerset Police Road Safety Manager

High visibility patrols have been carried out to discourage speeding motorists in areas where communities have raised concerns.

However, police officers say staff are facing unacceptable hostility and abuse.

The force says unnecessary journeys can put more strain on the NHS as it means more visits to petrol stations and greater risk of breakdowns.

It says this also increases unnecessary interaction at a time when the public is being asked to stay home and save lives.

Speeding is never acceptable but especially in the current circumstances. Although there might be less cars on the road as people are only making essential journeys, this does not justify speeding; the speed limit is still the same.

Sue Mountstevens, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner

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