The recent relaxation of some lockdown measures has meant more vehicles on the road, alongside more pedestrians and cyclists.
But police have noticed that many motorists are “rusty” after not using their vehicles for weeks.
It has prompted North Yorkshire emergency services and local authorities to share a joint message to motorists as part of a national campaign.
The “slow down, save lives” campaign is taking place throughout England and is run by the National Police Chief’s Council . It has been deliberately timed to keep people safe as some travel restrictions ease.
On average, 17 people are killed and 126 are seriously injured every month in the UK in crashes where speeding is believed to have been a significant factor, the NPCC says.
Since lockdown measures began, North Yorkshire Police has recorded drivers at speeds of up to 132mph.
Roads policing Inspector Dave Barf said: “In the last week the roads have begun to change – significantly more motorised traffic is out there returning to work. They’re sharing the roads with more vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians who are still ‘locked down’ and using the roads quite legitimately for their exercise.
“On top of this, many motorists have been making very limited journeys in the past few weeks, or none at all. Our traffic officers have noticed that driving skills in some cases appear to have become decidedly ‘rusty’.
“So, while speed is under the spotlight in this campaign, we’re also reminding motorists to take care – give yourself that little extra time at junctions, remind yourself to check your mirrors, concentrate on your position on the road and remember never to use your mobile phone while driving.
“There’s no doubt that speed kills – anyone who disagrees with that has no idea of the collisions we deal with. So next time you use the road, please remember to slow down and save lives.”
Figures issued by the NPCC show a vehicle travelling at 35mph rather than 30mph needs an extra two car lengths to stop – a margin that can spell the difference between life and death.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue responded to four collisions during April, but have already attended 12 in May as the roads become busier again.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Chair of the 95Alive Road Safety Partnership Jon Foster said: “As a fire service we often have to deal with the aftermath of collisions on the road.
“With some of the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions we’re likely to see an increase in traffic, combined with more people cycling and walking as part of their daily exercise.
“We would ask people to take care if they’re heading out on the roads and for vehicle drivers to make sure they drive within speeds limits and are aware of other road users including motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists.”
North Yorkshire County Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access and road safety champion, said reducing excessive speeds is vital in reducing collisions.
He said: “Over recent months and as travel restrictions are gradually eased, so many more people are cycling, walking or using their own cars rather than public transport, so it is essential that we maintain safety on our highways.
“In North Yorkshire we have seen a steady drop in the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads in recent years, but we still have a long way to go. Speed is the most common factor in accidents, so if we can control speeds we can reduce the number of accidents sharply.
“For example, recently we have responded to requests from parish councils to permit them to erect their own vehicle-activated signs, which alert drivers if they are exceeding the speed limit. Many parish councils have decided to take up this opportunity.”
And Councillor Andy D’Agorne, executive member for transport at City of York Council, said: “We fully support this speed awareness campaign. Whilst traffic levels in York have decreased, as fewer vehicles are using our roads, we have received complaints of vehicle speeds increasing.
“If we all reduce our speeds we’ll have more time to react to other road users, pedestrians and cyclists and will help to reduce the risk of any accidents or collisions. We hope more residents will consider cycling or walking as an alternative, but if you have to drive please slow down and help save lives.”