Published: 06:00, 28 March 2021
As coronavirus restrictions begin to ease roads will eventually return to their normal selves with rush hour traffic, raging motorists and long queues.
But with recent figures showing Kent is in the top five worst areas for speeding in the country, how safe are our roads?
UK statistics gathered from Freedom of Information requests revealed how more than 2.2 million drivers were a bit too heavy on the accelerator in 2020 - the equivalent of 6,000 offences per day - despite residents being told to stay home for three quarters of the year.
Of the worst offenders from figures submitted by police forces Kent came in fifth with 88,763 offences recorded last year.
Only the Metropolitan Police (254,006), West Yorkshire Police (181,633), Greater Manchester Police (179,142) and Avon and Somerset Police (103,723) recorded more.
Alex Kindred, an expert at Confused.com, who compiled the data, said: “It’s worrying to think that many people took advantage of quieter roads during lockdown to ramp up the speed. Speed limits are in place for a reason – to keep road users and pedestrians safe.
“If you’re caught speeding, you could be paying out up to 175% of your weekly income – this could be up to £1,000 for some drivers, or £2,500 on a motorway."
Despite the thousands of speeding motorists government figures show that the number of fatalities in Kent from crashes - whether this be a pedestrian killed or a driver - is at the lowest it's been this decade.
In 2019 there were 4,195 accidents in the county. Of the 800 "serious or fatal" crashes from this statistic 39 resulted in a death.
In 2010 the figure was 56 and this has fluctuated from year to year but never been as low as 39.
"It is disappointing that some people still make the decision to speed on our roads..."
There are a number of deterrents in place to stop these sorts of crashes and to stop motorists speeding.
The most commonly known one is of course speed cameras, which are scattered around, thanks to the Kent and Medway Safety Camera Partnership and Kent Police.
Chief Inspector Elena Hall, head of Kent Police’s roads policing unit, said: "Speeding is one for the four most common causes of a serious or fatal collision and choosing to break a limit which has been put in place to keep people safe is both irresponsible and reckless and puts lives at risk.
"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.
"However, speed cameras are just one way Kent Police and its partner agencies work to keep the county’s roads safe while motorists also have a responsibility to ensure their safety and that of other road users.
"It is disappointing that some people still make the decision to speed on our roads and it is vital that motorists take responsibility to drive not only within the law but also to the conditions of the road to ensure they play their part in making our roads safe.
"Whilst there have been fewer vehicles on Kent’s roads during lockdown measures introduced by the government, please do not be mistaken into thinking that it is safe to drive above the speed limit.
"The faster your speed, the less time you have to react to unforeseen hazards or mistakes from other drivers and the greater the impact any collision may be, making it more likely that you or someone else will be killed or seriously injured.
"Throughout lockdown officers have continued to use a range of methods including mobile and static speed cameras and in-car technology to prosecute speeding drivers.
"Officers from the Roads Policing Unit are on patrol on major routes across the county and taking action when necessary, specifically looking out for motorists who may be using their phones at the wheel, not wearing seatbelts or otherwise putting themselves or others at risk."
There are multiple types of speed cameras in place across Kent to stop speeding drivers from injuring themselves or anyone else.
These include your common yellow fixed safety cameras, mobile police camera vans and red light safety cameras which are in place to stop motorists jumping to lights at busy junctions.
Less known types include average speed cameras (SPECS) and variable speed cameras on motoroways.
SPECS are digital cameras often seen on the motorway or dual carriageways during works which calculate the average speed of a vehicle from the time it takes to get from one set of cameras to another.
While variable speed cameras are similar to average speed cameras but are unlikely to be in operation 24/7 and are commonly seen on smart motorways when the speed limit is lowered to ease congestion.
The cameras are situated on the overhead gantries and the limit will be displayed on a series of signs.
Statistics from Speed Cameras UK detail how there are more than 100 fixed and mobile speed cameras in Kent, with Chatham and Maidstone having the highest number of cameras in their towns, with 13 each.
In January Kent County Council pledged to try and cut fatalities on the county's road to zero by 2050.
The authority unveiled a "vision" to introduce 20mph zones in town and village, as well as roll out extra speed cameras.
Figures from the Department of Transport revealed the most common place for crashes in Kent was on a single carriageway road with a speed limit of between 21mph to 30mph.
During the KCC meeting earlier this year it was detailed how the estimated cost of dealing with one fatal crash is around £2.2million, with call-outs involving the police and NHS.
A separate meeting of Maidstone's Joint Transportation Board called for 20mph speed limits on all new housing estates.
Kent County Council opened a public consultation into ideas for the county's road safety strategy for the next six years, but it has since closed.
Highways England says it has a number of initiatives on the go to make Kent's roads safer.
A spokesman said: "At Highways England safety is our top priority, and our vision is for everyone who travels on our network to get home safe and well.
"Our long-term ambition is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the strategic road network to a number approaching zero by 2040.
"We plan to achieve this challenging vision through a mixture of safety engineering schemes and network improvements, customer engagement, and through our work as part of road safety partnerships across the region with organisations such as police forces, fire and rescue services, and other highway authorities."