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Driver caught doing 111mph in 40mph zone as staggering levels of speeding in Kent revealed

PUBLISHED: 15:20 28 September 2017

Speed camera

Speed camera

David Fowler

One driver was also spotted hitting a top speed of 150mph on the M25

Drivers were caught hitting staggering speeds of up to 150mph on Kent roads last year, new figures have revealed.

Kent Police recorded hundreds of cases of drivers speeding at more than 100mph in 2016/17, with one Volkswagen Golf reaching 111mph on the B2174 Princes Road, near Rowan Cresecent in Dartford - a road where the speed limit is just 40mph.

The data, obtained by BBC Radio Kent through a Freedom of Information request, shows the majority of offences occurring between junction 5 of the M25 and the Clacket Lane Services, near Westerham.

However, drivers were also caught racking up three-figure speeds on stretches of the M20 as well as roads including the Wainscott By-pass, Strood; A2 Dover Road both in Canterbury and Shepherdswell; A289 Medway Tunnel, towards Rochester and the A249 Newington.

Earlier this year, greater punishments for the worst speeding offenders came into force.

These included a fine of 50 per cent of the driver’s weekly income plus three points on their license when caught doing 71-90mph on the motorway.

For those caught doing 91-100mph, the Sentencing Council imposed a fine worth 100 per cent of their weekly income plus four to six points or a driving ban for seven to 28 days.

And for those caught driving at 101mph, the fine equalled 150 per cent of weekly income, plus six points or a seven to 56-day driving ban.

Some road safety chiefs, however, believe the punishments are not enough of a deterrent and that too many drivers still believe they can hit terrifying speeds without getting caught.

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns at the charity, Brake, told us: “Enforcement is one of the big issues, not just on speeding but other crimes as well, like using your mobile phone or driving under the influence of drink or drugs.

“There have been a lot of high profile street races this summer, with some caught doing 134mph in the West Midlands.

“They were prosecuted but escaped jail time because they didn’t kill anyone - that sends out completely the wrong message.

“There’s so many problems with the justice system. The Ministry of Justice consulted on a change in the law including increasing the jail sentence for dangerous driving from 14 years to life – that closed at the beginning of the year, but we’re still waiting.

“There’s no one silver bullet or else we would have got it by now.

“On every journey there needs to be that expectation that you will get caught, and the punishment needs to be more severe as a proper deterrent.”

With police budgets being rapidly slashed every year, enforcement has been made that much harder, though Mr Wakeford pointed to a successful trial in North Wales where members of the public have helped capture motoring offences including careless or dangerous driving.

However, Brian Macdowall of the Kent branch of the Alliance of British Drivers, said the priority should be to crack down on other ways in which drivers behave at the wheel, not necessarily simply how hard they’re pushing the accelerator.

“As with everything, there is a hardcore minority who flout the rules of the road, but they do not represent the majority of sober, sensible, careful drivers,” he said.

“If you look at the major causes of accidents, failure to look properly is top, and speeding comes in about eighth or ninth.

“We need to detach the myth that speed is automatically synonymous with dangerous driving.”

Mr Macdowall added that, despite the staggering statistics, he believes increasing the speed limit on motorways by 10mph, as was briefly mooted back in 2010, could still be justified.

“The hardcore minority should have the book thrown at them, we don’t want those people on the road,” he said.

“The speed limit was set in 1965 and cars are now light years away in engineering terms than they were then.

“It is not the major cause of accidents, the predominant fact is too many people switch off behind the wheel, only focus on the pedals and mirrors and are not looking further down the road.

“We are not saying put your foot right to the floor, but [travelling above 70mph can be safe] if in your judgement the road is clear and there is nothing that would cause you or anyone else an accident.”

Mr Wakeford, however, believes there is no justification for increasing the speed limit.

He said: “It’s a real misconception. Yes, cars are better and can brake better but thinking time has not improved, in fact, it’s probably got worse with more distractions such as GPS, Bluetooth and people looking at their phones.

“Quite simply, if you are travelling at a fast speed, it takes longer to stop. You can only imagine what those impacts will be at 100mph, so having an increased speed limit is a recipe for disaster.

“If everyone on the motorway travelled at 50mph you’d actually get to your destination quicker because people are changing lanes and going different speeds.”

Responding to the release of the figures this week, Kent Police’s superintendent Phil Hibbens said: “Kent has the biggest strategic road network in the country and officers carry out patrols on the motorways in both marked and unmarked vehicles to help identify people who are committing offences.

“It is not just the Roads Policing Unit which keep our roads safe – there are additional resources which support them, as well as local policing teams who carry out enforcement.

“Across Kent and Medway there are a number of fixed and mobile camera sites, which are managed by the Kent and Medway Safety Camera Partnership.

“This is supported by 100 Community Speed-watch schemes across the county, where volunteers from local communities detect and report vehicles caught speeding to the police.

“A variety of road safety campaigns are delivered each year on a number of issues including speeding, mobile phone use, drink and drug driving, HGVs and seatbelts in order to prevent dangerous driving taking place.

“Kent Police, in partnership with other road safety professionals, are committed to preventing harm on the roads, but road users have a responsibility to play their part too.

“Motorists have a personal responsibility to drive not only within the law but also to the conditions of the road.

“Exceeding the speed limit is irresponsible, speeding at 100mph or more is extremely dangerous.”

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