That is the message we are urging motorists to pay attention to as a national speed campaign launches today.

Officers in the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit (CDSOU) will be taking part in the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) speed enforcement operation.

With the gradual relaxing of lockdown restrictions, we will be taking part in a two-phase operation to remind motorists of the importance of travelling within the speed limit.

This operation is deliberately timed as travel restrictions start to ease, to keep people safe as the volume of traffic increases.

In phase one – beginning today – we will be joining forces across the country to share messages encouraging the public to slow down and save lives, in addition to normal speed enforcement activity.

Phase two – from May 25 – will see forces step up visible speed enforcement activity for the following two weeks, focussing on roads and areas where speeding is known to be an issue or there is a history of serious collisions.

Inspector Cat Iley, from CDSOU, said: “Although the majority of motorists continue to obey the rules of the road, some continue to travel at unacceptable speeds placing themselves and other road users at risk of serious harm or death.

“The impact families and loved ones experience when someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of speeding is devastating, and is sadly something we see all too often. Speeding related incidents are avoidable.”

She added: “Simply because there have been less vehicles on the road, does not mean that speed limits have been removed and that it is safe to drive above them.

“As the lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, the number of vehicles on the roads will naturally increase making the roads a more hazardous place. Speeding shows a blatant disregard for the safety of others and the laws in place.

“All of our roads policing teams will be out and about supporting the campaign, carrying out both enforcement and educational activity within both Cleveland and Durham.

“And while this is something we target all year round, in the current climate it is more important than ever to reduce the demands placed on all front line emergency services and the NHS so remember speeding is a choice and you all have a part to play.”

We want to remind motorists of the devastating impact speeding can have, not only increasing the risk of a collision but the severity of the impact at higher speeds.

Figures show that on average, 17 people are killed and 126 seriously injured every month in the UK, where speeding is believed to have been a significant factor.

At 30mph, vehicles are travelling at 44 feet or about three car lengths each second.

Even in good conditions, the difference in stopping distance between 30 mph and 35mph is an extra 21 feet or 6.4 metres, more than two car lengths, which could make all the difference in avoiding a collision.

The distance required to stop safely, significantly increased at higher speeds.

Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, Roads Policing Lead for NPCC, said: “Unsurprisingly, the lockdown saw very quiet roads. Many forces reported increased speeding in a general sense and some forces reported instances of very excessive speeding. It is also of particular note that we have seen an increase in pedal cyclists at this time, many of whom may be unfamiliar with busier roads. Pedestrians and runners have also got used to empty roads.

“Put this together with better weather, lighter evenings, motorcyclists itching to ride out across our country roads and you have the concerning combination of factors for a significant increase in people being killed or seriously injured. I am determined for this not to be the case.

“Speeding kills, and driving within the speed limits makes our roads safer. Please slow down and save lives.”