Herts police warn dangerous drivers they are risking key workers’ lives during coronavirus lockdown

Police are warning motorists not to speed during the coronavirus lockdown.

Police are warning motorists not to speed during the coronavirus lockdown. - Credit: Archant

Reckless motorists taking advantage of quieter roads during the lockdown to speed and drive dangerously are putting the lives of key workers at risk, police have warned.

BCH Roads Policing Unit out on patrol. Officers are cracking down on motorists driving dangerously d

BCH Roads Policing Unit out on patrol. Officers are cracking down on motorists driving dangerously during the lockdown. - Credit: Archant

The warning comes following reports of drivers racing through relatively deserted streets, with little regard for pedestrians or other road users.

One eye-witness said: “While I’ve been out for my daily exercise I’ve noticed an unusual amount of traffic violations, including dangerous levels of speeding in usually busy streets by boy racers and mature men in sports cars, and teenagers on what appear to be dirt bikes riding without helmets through surburban streets.

“I think the lack of traffic on the roads is prompting some people to take advantage of the situation, but because those pedestrians and cyclists who are out for their daily exercise are not expecting many cars to be around it’s even more dangerous.”

Another woman said: “It feels more dangerous because with these normally congested roads being so quiet you’re not expecting to see them being used as a racetrack. These selfish people are risking lives at a time when the NHS is already stretched by COVID-19, and cannot afford to be rediverting resources to deal with irresponsible drivers.”

In one incident, at around 2.50am on April 14, police were called to reports of youths on mopeds racing through the streets in suburban St Albans.

A patrol car was sent to the scene and tracked down the two mopeds on Beech Road. It then followed them to Ashley Road, where they deployed a Stinger device. One man was injured and complained of leg pain, so an ambulance was called and he was taken to hospital.

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Three young men were arrested, and the two mopeds are believed to be stolen.

Chief Inspector Jon Roche, head of the BCH (Beds, Cambs, Herts) Roads Policing Unit, said: “Roads are quieter than usual and we are aware of a minority of road users who are using this as an excuse to drive dangerously. The tri-force Roads Policing Unit continues to patrol the county’s roads and will not hesitate to take action against those who act in this irresponsible way.

“While traffic might be different, the rules of the road remain the same. Their reckless behaviour not only puts their lives at risk, but the lives of others, many of whom are vital key workers who are travelling to and from work. Our advice to everyone is to stay home as much as possible and if you have to travel, do it safely.”

Herts-based road safety charity IAM RoadSmart has praised police for continuing to tackle people risking their own and other people’s lives by speeding during the coronavirus lockdown.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s policy and research director, said: “Social media is full of videos and reports from the front line showing high speed pursuits, arrests, collisions and driver behaviour that seems frankly unbelievable in this time of national crisis.

“IAM RoadSmart believes it is critical that high profile roads policing is maintained during the lockdown to ensure that a selfish minority do not taint the vast majority of law abiding drivers who are behaving responsibly.

“Dealing with avoidable crashes is a huge and unnecessary burden on the emergency services at the moment and while we expect overall crash numbers to fall, this makes the targeting of excessive speeding related activity even more important than ever.

“The minority who continue to drive at excessive speed are simply not listening to the warnings or taking heed of the frequent police messaging. The only way to stop them is to keep current speeding campaigns going and increase the perception that they will be caught and dealt with.”

Suspected incidents of speeding and road traffic offences can be reported via the police non-emergency number 101. If a crime is in progress, always dial 999. You can also use Herts police’s online reporting form at herts.police.uk/report.

Alternatively, you can stay 100 per cent anonymous by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via their untraceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org.