High-speed drivers must be caught and punished

It’s important the parade continues – but safely

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There is no doubt that for the thousands of drivers who each day travel between Portsmouth and London, the Hindhead Tunnel is proving to be every bit the improvement that we were promised it would be.

Businesses and individual motorists are reporting far easier journeys now that the new route has been opened.

And it is likely that, as rush-hour traffic increases on our roads with the start of the new school year, those advantages will be felt even more.

Inevitably though, a small minority have found an illegal use for the tunnel – and it is one that will shock and terrify those who drive through it regularly.

In the dead of night, fools with more money than sense are using the tunnel as a makeshift race track.

They rev up their sports and high performance cars to hurtling speeds as they roar along the underground road – and then post videos of their exploits on the internet.

It’s all very funny and adrenalin-soaked to them, we’re sure – but in reality, it’s not amusing at all.

Whatever the thrill of driving a high-performance car at speed – and we recognise that for many that is a very exciting prospect – the plain fact is that sooner or later, there will be an horrific accident in the tunnel, not least because racers slam their cars to a halt at the exit in order to avoid being caught by the average speed cameras.

We are pleased to see that the police are aware of this new phenomenon and will increase night-time checks on the tunnel in the hope of catching the culprits in the act.

We hope too that the speeding drivers’ bravado in posting video clips on the internet might give police some clues as to their identities.

Should any of these dangerous drivers be caught and convicted, we hope that the courts will impose severe sentences on them.

It would be good to think that a judge had the power to impound an expensive car.

That might persuade a few that real life needs to be a little different to Top Gear.

They might think it t appears it has stuck to the speed limit.

The stunts, which are similar to one carried out by Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May in a tunnel through the Swiss Alps, have been condemned by police.

Surrey police neighbourhood Sergeant Jason Clifford said: ‘We will not tolerate people driving dangerously through the tunnel. The speed limit is there for drivers’ safety and anyone driving in this way may face arrest for careless driving.’

The police force has set up a series of extra patrols of the 1.1 mile tunnel, its entrances and exits.

And even though many clips show some drivers are not breaking the speed limit, police have confirmed they will take action against those who are creating as much noise as possible to echo around the tunnel.

One Aston driver on youtube commented: ‘You can stay within the limit. The Aston red lines at 65mph in second gear.’

But neighbourhood Sgt. Clifford said: ‘Driving deliberately noisily is anti-social. We will not tolerate it. We would like to send a message to those thinking about using the tunnel for this purpose that they will be dealt with robustly. Anyone caught speeding or driving noisily may face arrest.Vehicles will also be checked for any defects.’ xx