Legally reviewed by: Kevin Waddingham Updated: Covid-19

Covid-19: Clearer Roads Create Racetrack Drivers – Updated 30/04/20


With the UK still in lock down and with the country’s roads clear of all but a few vehicles some drivers believe they have a God-given right to use them as a race track. Judging by the number of reports of such stupidity it would seem that they fondly imagine the chances of being caught at the moment and then prosecuted are zero.

These are thoroughly misguided people. They are wrong and those who take the decision to drive in such a fashion must think again and consider the risk not only to themselves, but to us all as we collectively fight this pandemic.

Only this week we heard of someone in London caught on camera driving at 134mph in a 40mph limit. What if they had lost control at that speed? The risk to life and limb is obvious but consider the impact on us all? With the emergency services stretched to breaking point, dispatching paramedics and doctors to the scene to mix with police and fire officers along with anyone else unfortunate enough to be present is an affront to all that we are doing as a society to limit the spread of the disease.

In an update from Scotland Yard, there has been a near eight fold rise in speeding offences recorded in the week 20-27 April in comparison to last year. 2019 recorded 268 speeding offences by the force’s traffic teams, but the same period of time in 2020 recorded 2,020 motorists exceeding the speed limits.

This behaviour will not go unnoticed – particularly by the courts who have already put down a heavy marker in terms of the lengthy jail sentences they are handing out to those caught and convicted of spitting at emergency workers during the crisis. Given the opportunity they must, and will, be dishing out the kinds of sentence that will serve as an example to those such as our friend from the capital.

People like this need to be made aware that sentencing in these Covid times will not be limited to fines, penalty points and a short period of disqualification. They need to know that driving at such high speeds in built up areas – possibly showing off to friends or in the seriously flawed belief that their actions will impress others, will lead to a jail term.

Driving at such high speeds and in such circumstances is bound to be viewed by the authorities not just as a speeding offence but one of dangerous driving. Those convicted of driving at such high speeds cannot be surprised to learn that the courts, given the opportunity to sentence them as dangerous drivers will employ their considerably enhanced sentencing powers and send them to jail straight away. That will happen despite the credit they may be given for a guilty plea or even in the event that they might be first time offenders.

Dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of 6 months imprisonment in a Magistrates’ court and a jail term of 2 years in a Crown court. Neither might they expect any sympathy from the Court of Appeal if they were to complain about any jail term imposed.

Cartwright King is a national specialist law firm. The information being shared in this article has been collected by Steve Gelsthorpe one of its team of criminal and road traffic lawyers.

If you have any questions around this topic or know of someone who might need our help please contact the firm here.

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All advice is correct at time of publication.