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DANGEROUS DRIVING: Driving offences during the pandemic

DANGEROUS DRIVING: Driving offences during the pandemic

Image: LDRS

Roads fell quiet across the Black Country during the pandemic – but there were still dozens of motorists who committed serious driving offences.

West Midlands Police recorded a total of 62 offences of dangerous driving in the Black Country last year, which is an 18 per cent drop on the 76 offences recorded the previous year – and bucks the national trend.

Police also investigated fewer driving offences that resulted in a death or serious injury than in 2019/20.

Last year there were 10 of these more serious crimes, all of causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving.

There were 72 serious driving offences in the Black Country in 2020/21, a fall of 21 per cent from 112 the previous year.

Drivers in Sandwell were the worst offenders in our area. There were 26 dangerous driving offences in the area, including five that caused a death or serious injury.

Police recorded 23 offences (including three causing death or serious injury) in Dudley, 18 in Wolverhampton, and five in Walsall (including three of causing death or serious injury).

In total, West Midlands Police recorded 215 dangerous driving offences in 2020/21, which includes 31 which caused either a death or serious injury.

Of those offences, three drivers have been charged with causing death or serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving, and 20 people have been charged with causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving.

Of the other offences involving a death or a serious injury, seven have yet to be assigned an outcome and one will not be prosecuted because of issues over evidence, despite the suspect being identified and the victim supporting further action.

Of the 184 offences of dangerous driving, the vast majority (169) have resulted in someone being charged or summonsed, while nine have yet to be assigned an outcome.

Across England and Wales, 5,294 offences of dangerous driving were recorded by police in 2020/21 – three per cent more than 5,144 the previous year.

Meanwhile, there were 708 offences that resulted in a death or serious injury last year, a drop of 21 per cent from the 848 recorded in 2019/20.

Overall, there were slightly more serious road offences committed in total last year (6,002) than in 2019/20 (5,992).

Hugh Bladen, founding member of the Alliance of British Drivers, said: “There’s no two ways about it, some people have taken advantage of the empty roads and driven too fast, which is not the most sensible thing to do.

“Some speed limits are set too low and people have trouble sticking to them anyway. I think people have seen the empty roads and thought, ‘why not go a bit quicker’?

“But that is a bit different to people who have been clocked doing 80mph and 90mph in 30mph speed limit areas, which is very dangerous.

“I believe the fastest speed someone has been clocked at during lockdown was 201mph, on one of the motorways.”

Separate Department for Transport figures show the number of vehicles on the roads started to fall rapidly after March 16, when Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the public, “now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact and travel”.

By March 26 – the day lockdown restrictions legally began – traffic had slumped to just 39 per cent of the number of cars, vans and lorries that would normally be seen on the roads.

By mid-April that reached a low of 23 per cent of normal traffic levels.
But on average, between April and June, traffic was at 54 per cent of what would normally be seen on the roads.

That then rose to an average of 92 per cent between July and September, then dipped again to 80 per cent between October and December, and then 66 per cent between January and March 2021.

According to the National Police Chiefs’ Council, many forces reported an increase in speeding as roads quietened during the lockdown, with some reporting instances of, “very excessive speeding”.

Chief Constable Jo Shiner, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Roads Policing, said: “These stats reveal a very small increase in the number of dangerous driving offences recorded by the police.

“They also reveal that during the same period, the number of fatal collisions decreased.

“Stopping people committing driving offences and preventing the loss of life is a key priority within the national roads policing strategy, and all forces in England and Wales, plus PSNI and Police Scotland, regularly take part in national operations led by the NPCC to achieve this.

“Speed limits and driving laws are there to protect all road users, and police officers across the country will take action to ensure those caught committing any motoring offence are dealt with in the most appropriate manner.”


Words: Rhi Storer, Local Democracy Reporter

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