SPEEDING complaints have risen by 50 per cent in Gwent this year as some drivers took advantage of quieter roads during the lockdown.

A "massive increase" in speeding across Wales is down to people "using the roads like a race track", Gwent Police inspector Jason Williams told the Argus.

He was speaking in Cwmbran town centre, where police officers and members of South Wales Fire and Rescue Service were holding a public roadshow on driving safely.

Nearby, other police officers were conducting speed- and vehicle checks, and a week-long enforcement operation across Gwent has so far caught 350 drivers breaking the speed limit.

Insp Williams said months of reduced traffic due to the coronavirus lockdown meant there had been fewer road deaths this year, but some drivers had exploited the lockdown and the subsequent reduction in police speeding operations.

"People aren't slowing down, and we want to relieve the pressures on the NHS," he added. "Collisions place enormous pressure on the emergency services."


To coincide with the general easing of the lockdown and more people returning to work, this week's roadshow and enforcement operation ties in with Project Edward, a Europe-wide scheme aimed at cutting the number of road deaths.

In Cwmbran, members of the emergency services chatted with shoppers about road safety, while other members of the public were shown the crumpled wreckage of a crashed car and a driving simulator showed people first-hand how difficult it is to text and drive safely.

Project Edward "is about making people aware, not just punishing drivers," Insp Williams said, adding that in some cases, drivers caught this weeks would be offered an educational course, rather than a fine, to help them learn the error of their ways.

The scheme focuses on the so-called Fatal Five - speeding; drink/drug driving; not wearing seatbelts; careless/distracted driving; and using a mobile phone.

Sergeant Bob Witherall, a Gwent Police crash investigator, said his unit attends 100 incidents every year in which someone has died or been critically injured.

"All too often we see the catastrophic consequences of people's mistakes," he added. "Ultimately the Fatal Five is seen in every crash we go to, in some shape or form."

Project Edward is a national campaign which raises awareness of issues that put drivers and other road users at risk. This is its 5th year and this year 2020 the focus is on those who drive to work.
The road show will be in Abertillery town centre today, and in New Inn tomorrow.
South Wales Fire and Rescue Service road traffic collision reduction manager James Connor said: "By supporting Project Edward our team is committed to reducing the number of incidents, injuries and deaths on our roads by visiting multiple locations throughout the South Wales area this week, delivering crucial road safety advice.

"We aim to educate and engage with communities and send a clear message about driver behaviour."