POLICE recorded more than 70,000 incidents of speeding across Hampshire last year – including one driver caught doing almost 140mph.

Figures revealed through a Freedom of Information request show that Hampshire Police detected 73,220 incidents between January and December 2018.

They also reveal that the highest recorded speed in Hampshire last year was 137mph on the M3 – though police were unable to say when this took place.

Road safety experts have described the highest speed figure as “frightening”.

But they have also raised concern about other figures within the Freedom of Information request.

The figures show the police detected just 1,400 incidents of drivers using their mobile phones at the wheel.

RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams said: “While it’s frightening to see that someone drove as fast 137mph in the Hampshire Constabulary area it is also very worrying that only 1,401 drivers were caught for driving using a handheld mobile phone.

Daily Echo:

“We are sure this is just the tip of the iceberg as data for the RAC Report on Motoring 2019 reveals that 23 per cent of drivers admitted to breaking the law in this way in the last 12 months by making or receiving calls on their handheld phones at the wheel.

“The dramatic reduction in the number of roads police officers since 2010 is almost certainly to blame.

“As a result many drivers believe there is little chance of being caught for anything other than speeding.”

Nationally, figures show a sharp reduction in the number of fixed penalty notices handed out for using phones at the wheel.

In 2011, there were 120,000 drivers slapped with fines for the offence. By 2017, it had dropped to just 22,800.

Earlier this year, Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police launched a new campaign in which officers were deployed on double-decker buses in attempt to catch drivers using their mobile phones at the wheel.

In April, the two forces also announced they would be among the first in the country to use a new piece of technology which can detect when drivers are using their phones without a hands-free device.

The two campaigns follow a number incidents, nationally and locally, of serious or fatal crashes involving drivers using mobile phones at wheel.

In Hampshire, Keith Mees, then 49, was driving an HGV on the M271 in December 2015 when he caused a caused a crash involving two other lorries and a Ford Mondeo.

Daily Echo:

The driver of the Mondeo, 35-year-old Marian Olteanu, and passenger Ion Calin, 42, were both pronounced dead at the scene on the M271.

Another lorry driver was rushed to Southampton General Hospital with serious injuries following the crash.

Southampton Crown Court heard that Keith Mees was using his mobile phone to access Facebook when he crashed.

He admitted two offences of causing death by dangerous driving and one of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was jailed for six years.

Commenting on the figures, a spokesperson for Hampshire Constabulary said it was “vital that people take notice and stop using their mobile phones while driving”.

On the speeding figures, the spokesperson said that the force’s figures showed speed was a “causation factors in 20 per cent of all fatal casualties” across Hampshire and Thames Valley.