Published: 06:00, 24 May 2019
| Updated: 08:28, 25 June 2019
Hundreds of drivers have been slapped with speeding fines since a 50mph limit was introduced on the M20 in case of a no-deal Brexit, new figures show.
The statistics, which cover the London-bound stretch between junctions 10 for Ashford and 8 for Maidstone, include the three-week period the controversial Operation Brock contraflow system was in place.
Drivers using the motorway have faced an average speed limit for months after Highways England restricted the stretch between junctions 9 and 8 to just two narrow lanes.
Police only started enforcing the limit from March 29 but fined 781 motorists between then and last Monday.
Even though the Operation Brock contraflow was removed during that time on April 15, Highways England is keeping the steel barrier in place until at least October, meaning drivers have to continue to use just two narrow lanes on the London-bound route.
Retiree John Moore, of Sevington, regularly uses the stretch to get to Maidstone.
“It’s good they are enforcing the limit but it doesn’t get away from the fact that numerous drivers are ignoring the speed limit,” he said.
“The other day, I saw so many lorries on that stretch overtaking each other and flashing their lights - it was ridiculous.
“I don’t understand why the other two lanes can’t be used for cars and the two lanes currently in use be given solely to lorries.
“That would allow the lorries to fight amongst themselves on one side of the barrier and it wouldn’t affect car drivers.”
Mr Moore - who wrote to Ashford MP Damian Green about the steel barrier - says he hopes the motorway will fully reopen before October.
Highways bosses say it would take a month to take the barrier out.
"Surely it would be better to have a few weeks of overnight closures to remove the barrier rather than wait six months until October and have to put up with a 50mph limit and narrow lanes?..." - John Moore
It was put in to deal with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and enable traffic to keep moving in the event of congestion and disruption at the Channel ports.
Mr Moore said: “They say they are regularly reviewing the situation, but you can’t help but think they will ignore the pressure from residents.
“Surely it would be better to have a few weeks of overnight closures to remove the barrier rather than wait six months until October and have to put up with a 50mph limit and narrow lanes?
“I would much rather be driving on a proper lane of the M20 where I have space around me.
“I don’t know how you stop people breaking the 50mph limit, but it may just be indicative of this day and age where people just abuse the rules.
“It seems to me that no one is afraid of the law any more.”
Chief Superintendent Claire Nix says officers enforce the speed limit on behalf of Highways England, which owns and operates the average speed cameras.
She said: “It is very important speed cameras are tested and are operating correctly before any motorists are prosecuted, and the earliest date we were able to enforce the speed limit on this stretch of the motorway was March 29.
“Since then we have processed a total of 781 notices of intended prosecution for speeding offences.
“We and our partners are committed to keeping our roads safe, and as well as enforcement we also carry out engagement, education and awareness campaigns to drive the safety message home.
"We urge all drivers to drive within the limit and with care and attention..." - Highways England
“While cameras and officers on patrol are there to keep the roads as safe as possible, all motorists have a responsibility to drive to the conditions of the road and that includes reduced speed limits.”
A Highways England spokesman said the 50mph limit “is there for everyone’s safety”.
“It is clearly signed and legally enforceable,” he said.
“We urge all drivers to drive within the limit and with care and attention.”
More by this authorDan Wright