Avon and Somerset Police are stepping up traffic patrols after detecting over 1,300 drivers exceeding the speed limit over the course of a month.
The increase comes as some drivers decide to take advantage of quieter roads during the coronavirus lockdown.
From 23 March to 22 April, Avon and Somerset Police's Traffic Units detected 1,391 drivers exceeding the speed limit, which included travelling over 45mph in a 20-zone and over 70mph in a 30-zone.
Of those found guilty, 144 will face automatic prosecution after travelling so excessively over the speed limit.
The Force say their officers and staff are also facing increased hostility, abuse and obstruction as they aim to discourage speeding motorists.
Despite traffic falling by around 65 per cent in the early weeks of lockdown, speeding offences have remained consistent and police are urging people to avoid all non-essential travel.
This includes more visits to petrol stations, as this could lead to a greater risk in breakdowns.
Avon and Somerset Police Road Safety Manager Trevor Simpson said:
“We would hope that at a time when the whole country is being called on to unite in staying home and protecting ourselves, each other and the NHS, prevalent speeding would not be an issue to which we would have to dedicate valuable police resource.
"Sadly it has become evident through the high number of reports we are receiving that a minority of people are going against the advice and causing danger to themselves and others.
“We urge people to stay home and avoid all non-essential journeys.
"Good weather, quiet roads, a need for a change of scenery or simply wanting to get “out and about” are not acceptable reasons to get behind the wheel.
“Where journeys are essential – for example essential work which can’t be done from home, a necessary food shop or to care for someone vulnerable – we urge people to stay local, take extra care and respect speed limits.
"Higher speed inevitably means higher risk.”
Mr. Simpson also addressed the hostility and abuse directed at officers and staff.
“We have been asked; “Have we got nothing better to do?”.
"The answer to that is that our role is primarily to protect and serve our communities and we will robustly police and challenge dangerous driving that puts others at risk.
"There can be no greater responsibility in the current climate than protecting the NHS and other road users.
“We want to drive home the message that speeding is unjustifiable and unacceptable, not only in terms of breaking the law, but to the great majority of the British public who are respecting the rules and avoiding non-essential travel in order to help us all get to the other side of this pandemic as quickly as possible.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said:
“Speeding is never acceptable but especially in the current circumstances.
"Although there might be less cars on the road as people are only making essential journeys, this does not justify speeding; the speed limit is still the same.
“Our officers and staff are working hard to ensure everyone adheres to the speed limit if they need to make an essential journey.
"They are there to protect you, protect others and should be treated with respect.
"Let’s remember that speeding puts yourself and others at risk, and this is an additional strain on emergency services that are already working so hard to protect us from the coronavirus.”
If you have a speeding offence you would like to report to Avon and Somerset Police you can do so by clicking here.