Motorist speeding offences soar during lockdown

News article | December 2020

Despite traffic plummeting during the COVID pandemic lockdown, motorists have accrued a staggering 1.5million driving licence points during the first half of 2020.

Drivers in England, Scotland and Wales racked up 1,465,232 new penalty points on their driving licences between January and June 2020, according to fresh data released by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) following a recent Freedom of Information request.

Whilst this is 700,000 fewer, relative to the same period in 2019, the stats are in fact more shocking, given the dramatic decline in traffic volumes (up to 80 per cent reduction in traffic) during the first lockdown restrictions implemented from the end of March.

UK Police Forces can fine a driver and 'endorse' the driver’s driving record with penalty points if convicted of a motoring offence, such as speeding. Endorsements must stay on a driver’s licence for 4 or 11 years, depending on the type of driving offence.

This new DVLA penalty points data is released just weeks after the Department for Transport's (DfT) Vehicle Speed Compliance Statistics report for January to June 2020 evidenced a sharp year-on-year increase in motorists breaking limits from mid-March, just as restrictions were put in place.

The new report published in November showed an overall annual increase in speed restrictions being exceeded, with 30mph zones being the most often exceeded, rising to 63 per cent during the lockdown compared to 56 per cent over the same period in 2019.

The proportion of cars exceeding the speed limit during the UK coronavirus lockdown was higher than for the equivalent period of 2019.

These differences emerged as road traffic levels reduced sharply in late March after the UK lockdown was introduced. As restrictions eased later in Quarter 2 2020 (April to June), road traffic began to return to normal levels, and speed limit exceedance also started to return to levels more similar to 2019.

One conclusion that can be drawn from these statistics is that a significant percentage of those drivers that continued to use their vehicle once Government restrictions were introduced made a conscious decision to disregard road speed restrictions whilst overall traffic volumes reduced. As traffic volume trends returned to a more typical level, factors such as traffic congestion helped to prevent such reckless flouting of UK Traffic Law.

The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) which is operated throughout the UK and governed by UKROEd is designed to offer drivers an opportunity of addressing their driving standards and behaviours by completing a specialist NDORS road safety course, specific to their driving offence. As an alternative to prosecution, a fine and driving licence endorsement, TTC currently delivers NDORS courses on behalf of 14 UK Police Forces throughout England, Scotland and Wales, with courses currently being delivered as online Virtual Classrooms.

The introduction of online Virtual Classroom course delivery in April 2020 was approved by the scheme’s governing body, UKROEd and each Police Force in direct response to the perceived increase in driver speeding offences from March 2020 onwards. Virtual Classroom delivery permitted NDORS courses such as the National Speed Awareness Course (NSAC) to be delivered to offending drivers whilst maintaining the Government’s social distancing requirements.

The accumulation of 1.5million driving licence points also exposes organisations whose employees are required to drive for work purposes to significant risk. Every organisation has a "Duty of Care" under current Health & Safety Executive (HSE) legislation to ensure that their employee’s driving licences are regularly verified and checked that they hold a valid driving licence, including the number of endorsement penalty points.

Based upon the 1.5million driving licence penalty points accrued between January and June 2020, the Government’s analysis of those continuing to travel once restrictions were introduced in March (COVID-19 Gov daily briefing data) demonstrated that the vast majority of on-going traffic were for work-related journeys.

This leads to the question of how many professional drivers accrued driving licence endorsements during this period, and how many employers know which employees have acquired additional points on their licence?

Licence Bureau Limited, who are a part of TTC Group following their acquisition in March 2020, are specialists in providing driving licence verification services for businesses throughout the UK. Licence Bureau recently celebrated a record milestone of performing 5million driving licence verification checks with the DVLA.

This milestone further secures Licence Bureau’s position as pioneers in driving licence checks, being the first organisation to gain DVLA approval to perform driving licence verification checks in 2003.

Since joining the TTC Group in early 2020, Licence Bureau’s wealth of experience in the driving licence verification market has been integrated within the TTC Continuum platform, a market leading Driver Risk Management solution which helps organisations manage their driver risk and simplify their HSE “Duty of Care” compliance requirements.

To find out more about how TTC can help drivers to improve their driving behaviour, support organisations to carry out driving licence verification checks and improve the way that businesses manage driver risk, please visit our website