Motorists in Gloucestershire are being reminded to keep their speed low as part of a speed enforcement campaign being launched on Monday.
With the gradual relaxing of lockdown restrictions, agencies across the county are working to ensure that drivers are sticking to the speed limits.
They will be targeting roads in Cheltenham, the Cotswolds, Forest of Dean, Gloucester, Stroud and Tewkesbury, as they respond to concerns around speeding vehicles raised by residents during the past two months.
Police will be running operations involving the roads policing team, Special Constabulary and Camera Enforcement Team to prevent speeding.
This operation is deliberately timed as travel restrictions start to ease, to keep people safe as the volume of traffic increases and is part of the work to deliver against the Police and Crime Commissioner’s priority around Safe and Social Driving.
From Monday, police will be sharing messages across social media and other platforms encouraging the public to slow down and save lives, in addition to normal speed enforcement activity.
The second phase of the operation, beginning on Monday 25 May, the Constabulary will be stepping up visible speed enforcement activity for the following two weeks, focusing on areas where speeding is known to be an issue or there is a history of serious collisions.
Motorists are also being reminded to take extra care around cyclists and pedestrians. During the last few weeks, more cyclists have taken to the roads who may not be used to riding in heavier traffic conditions.
Pedestrians, who are also used to quieter roads, may still step off the pavements to avoid being close to other people as they exercise social distancing.
Chief Inspector Al Barby said: “With the gradual move out of lockdown and with traffic volumes starting to increase, this operation is an important way of highlighting the dangers of speeding, particularly when so many people have not been out on the roads for quite some time.
“Unsurprisingly, the lockdown saw very quiet roads. As a result, during the last few weeks, there has been an increase in the number of cyclists at this time, many of whom may be unfamiliar with busier roads. Pedestrians and runners have also got used to empty roads.
“Put this together with better weather, lighter evenings, motorcyclists itching to ride out across our country roads and you have the concerning combination of factors for a significant increase in people being killed or seriously injured. I am determined for this not to be the case.”
Figures show that on average 17 people are killed and 126 are seriously injured every month in the UK, where speeding is believed to have been a significant factor.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said: “It is evident to me from the complaints I have received, both by email and in conversations, that speeding during the lockdown has become a countywide issue. As the lockdown regulations become more relaxed and our roads busier, it cannot be allowed to continue.
“The added responsibility for policing the lockdown has made enforcement more difficult. Re-training courses have also been affected by social distancing but now is the time for a more robust response.
“Not only is speeding dangerous and anti-social but I think communities have enjoyed the peace of seeing less traffic. That may not last but there is no reason why all road users cannot be more sociable. That’s why the priority is called ‘Safe and social driving’.”
Cllr Dave Norman, Gloucestershire County Council cabinet member for road safety and the fire and rescue service, said: “I would urge people not to speed on the roads and to keep safety in mind at all times. Although we may have got used to seeing quieter roads during the lockdown, it’s not an excuse to travel faster than you should and potentially endanger your safety and that of other road users.
“Please take extra care if you’re out on the county’s roads as the lighter evenings and nice weather may lead to more traffic. I would also encourage everyone to be mindful that speeding causes accidents which would also place further pressure on our emergency services.”