Lockdown brings dramatic reduction in traffic but police warn rise in speeding could lead to deaths
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Research since the lockdown began on the evening of Monday, March 23, shows there is less than half the normal amount of traffic on the roads on weekdays, while weekend journeys are down by 67%.
But drivers are being warned to curb their speed as coronavirus measures have led to more people walking on the roads and seen an increase in speeding.
And campaign group Road Safety GB North East (RSGB NE) says accidents are more likely as more people are walking, cycling and jogging on roads in order to maintain social distance.
Paul Watson, RSGB NE Chairman said: “In order to give other pedestrians a wide berth, many are walking on the roads, or crossing over frequently, in order to social distance and ensure they are at least 2 metres from anyone else.
“If vehicles are passing at speed, it makes for a dangerous combination. Unless people take care, it’s only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or killed.”
Traffic speeds are reported to have increased on most roads, with many seeing average speeds around 5mph higher than normal.
Police Inspector Steve Clyburn, from the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Whilst the roads may be quieter because many people are staying at home, this does not give motorists the go ahead to drive above the legal speed limits, and we have seen examples of this over the last week or so.”
Motor Patrols Chief Inspector Sam Rennison, from Northumbria Police expressed his thanks to people who are respecting the stay-at-home measures but added: “I want to be clear, there can be no excuse to speed or drive in an irresponsible manner.
“We will continue to patrol our region’s roads and do everything we can to ensure they remain as safe as possible for those who still need to use them at this time."
In 2019, there were 800 pedestrian casualties on North East roads, with 18 fatal, 263 serious and 519 slight.
One in ten pedestrian fatalities involved a speeding driver.