Police in Dorset issued 45,344 speeding tickets last year – placing it in the top 10 forces in the UK.

Top officers have defended the figure after it was revealed that Dorset is tenth in a table of ‘most speeding tickets issued in 2017’, coming behind forces including Kent, Humberside, Norfolk and Dundee.

During the year, one motorist was stopped travelling 96 miles per hour in a 30mph stretch.

Sergeant Mark Farrow of Dorset Police’s No Excuses team said officers will always take speeding seriously.

“Excessive and inappropriate speed has been identified as one of the ‘fatal five’ offences – offences identified as being the main contributing factors in fatal road traffic conditions,” he said.

“A priority of Dorset Police is to reduce the number of people killed and seriously harmed on Dorset’s roads.

“The impact of these collisions is devastating to individuals, families and communities.”

Asked if drivers travelling in the county should be concerned about being criminalised, Sgt Farrow said: “All motorists have a responsibility to drive according to road traffic legislation.

“Motorists travelling within Dorset should do so in a careful and considerate manner, ensuring they obey the laws of the road. In doing so they will help make Dorset safer and will have no concerns over being ‘criminalised’.

“Individuals who wish to disregard driving standards, road signs, speed limits or drive while under the influence of drink or drugs can expect to be dealt with for doing so.

“Dorset Police’s No Excuse Team, road policing team and territorial policing officers patrol 24/7 and will deal with offenders who put the public at risk of harm.”

Money generated from motorists who attend driving courses after being caught speeding is used to provide free community safety education sessions in Dorset.

“Speed limits are set for several reasons, including the intention to improve road safety and reduce the number of road traffic casualties,” Sgt Farrow said.

“Those exceeding speed limits decrease the time that they have to react if an unforeseen incident were to occur and increase the potential for injury to themselves and other road users if involved in a collision.

“The impact of the resulting trauma to the driver, other road users, families, friends, those observing the collision, as well as the cost to the public purse in dealing with that collision could be substantially reduced by drivers adhering to the signed limits.”

From April last year, speeding drivers have faced stricter penalties and much higher fees based on their earnings. New rules came into effect in the UK in 2017 which means offenders can now be charged up to 175 per cent of their weekly income.

The system rates the severity of the offence based on speed limit.