IT WAS a split second decision that robbed a family of a husband, father and son.

James Ratsey-Woodroffe’s choice to speed as he headed home to his wife and three children proved fatal when he lost control of his motorbike and crashed.

Now his widow Karen wants to make sure that other families don’t go through the needless heartbreak and is urging motorists to stop and think before speeding.

Her plea comes as Hampshire’s roads policing team this week takes part in a Europe-wide mission to crack down on speeding by highlighting the devastating effect excessive speeds can have.

Tomorrow officers across the county will join colleagues across the continent to carry out a dedicated speed awareness campaign using mobile cameras on single and dual carriageways.

During 2013, 27 per cent of people killed in road crashes in Hampshire died in accidents where breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for the conditions were recorded as contributory factors.

Tragically, Mr Ratsey-Woodroffe, an experienced motorcyclist and family man, was one of those, having nipped out to the shops one Sunday afternoon.

The 42-year-old, who lived in Rownhams, had driven the same route hundreds of times before but for some reason, that day in July last year, he was driving home at more than double the 30mph limit.

Karen said: “My husband, a normal family man, was speeding, not because he was a lunatic rider but because he was very confident in his ability and unfortunately on that day it didn’t quite work out, and that could happen to anyone.

“We have all done it, put your foot down to get home that little bit quicker but people do not understand the consequences – it causes a tsunami of shock, disbelief and grief.

“He could have come home to us that afternoon but it was that split second decision to speed that changed our lives forever.

“If one person just stops and thinks, ‘actually I want to get home to my family’ after reading this then I will be happy.

“It isn’t just your life, it is everyone else’s lives you devastate, family, friends, those at the scene and is all that worth risking to get home just those few minutes quicker?

“The speed limits are there for a reason, no matter what your capability and James may be alive today if he had stuck to the limit.”

The TISPOL speed enforcement campaign in Hampshire tomorrow will focus on ensuring that goods vehicles of less than 7.5 tonnes are observing the speed limits that they are restricted to.

Hampshire’s Road Safety Sergeant, Rob Heard, said: “People need to realise it’s a speed limit and not a target so it may be more appropriate to travel at a lower speed depending on the road conditions for their own safety.

“Excessive or inappropriate speed has a singularly devastating impact on the safety of road users, increasing both the risk of a crash and the severity of the consequences.”