A stark warning has been issued to speeding drivers by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) – you’re playing with your own life, and those of others.
Sarah Sillars, the organisation’s chief executive, felt compelled to highlight the dangers of driving at excessive speeds after making a Freedom of Information request to police forces across England and Wales that revealed the true extent of the problem.
The two worst offenders were both caught by Kent Police doing 146 mph on the M6, while three other drivers were also clocked travelling faster than 140 mph.
However, the most worrying incident saw one motorist recorded at 128 mph on London Road in East Grinstead, which has a limit of just 30 mph.
Making the request, the IAM asked each police force about the highest speeds captured by cameras in 2014, along with the locations they were recorded and the speed limit on the roads in question.
Responses were received from 36 of the 41 forces questioned. The vast majority reported a top speed of more than 110 mph, with the only exceptions being the City of London, Cleveland, Greater Manchester, Northumbria, West Midlands and South Yorkshire.
Of course, many drivers would argue that travelling a few miles per hour above the motorway speed limit of 70 mph is completely reasonable. Indeed, the IAM itself called for the government to pilot a new 80 mph limit, with research from the charity indicating that one in five motorway users already travel at this increased speed.
However, there is clearly a major difference between driving at 80 mph on a motorway and more than doubling – or in some cases, tripling – the limit in an inner-city area. The worst speeder on a 40 mph road was clocked at 115 mph, while a speed of 120 mph was recorded on a 50 mph road.
But just how serious is it to drive at such speeds? Ms Sillars pointed out that 140 mph is nearly equivalent to two-and-a-half miles a minute, making it “simply impossible to react to anything that might happen in front of you”.
She added: “It is also impossible to handle corners, gradients, street furniture and junctions with any effectiveness.
“In short, all these individuals are playing with their own lives and others – they are all accidents waiting to happen and it requires a major shift in the attitudes of these people to think about safety.”