The Tayside Police vehicle was travelling at 149mph – more than double the legal speed limit – on the A90 Dundee to Aberdeen road last year. But far from racing to a crime scene or the location of a serious accident, the officer was simply responding to a broken down caravan blocking a single lane of the A90 near Brae of Pert, Brechin, Angus.
The incident, which happened last year, was revealed as part of figures released under Freedom of Information legislation.
One road safety group said the speed could “never be justified”, while a prominent road safety campaigner said the speed was “extreme” and that it would be “hypocritical” of police to defend it.
Tayside Police said an inquiry is taking place into the incident but that no action has been taken against the driver.
The stretch of the A90 where the officer was clocked has been the scene of numerous accidents in recent years. It is the second time a Tayside officer has been caught driving at 149mph on the stretch of road. The previous incident happened in 2006.
Last July, a woman died in a single vehicle crash between Forfar and Brechin, while in November 2007, Dean Grilli, of Dundee, died following a two-vehicle smash near Stracathro services.
Figures released by Tayside Police showed that their vehicles had been caught speeding 199 times since April last year.
The statistics also revealed one vehicle attending a crash elsewhere on the A90 in 2010 was spotted doing 140mph.
A spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said officers should only break the speed limit during a “genuine emergency”.
She said: “We do not know the exact circumstances of this particular incident, but we do not believe that speeds of around 150mph, as has been suggested in this case, can ever be justified on public roads.
“Police have to respond to emergencies and in doing so they may have to exceed the speed limit. But we believe they should only do that in a genuine emergency or during properly managed training.
“They must have proper risk management procedures to ensure high-speed driving only takes place when absolutely necessary and is always under the control of a manager in a control room.”
Claire Armstrong, co-founder of the road safety campaign Safe Speed, said: “We have to trust police officers to do a good job. But it seems hypocritical when on the same stretch of road members of the public would be accused of speeding if they drove at more than 70mph.
“We have to have in mind that every time we all go out we should use the appropriate speed so we know we can stop in case we need to. I would question whether at almost 150mph the driver would at all times be able to have reacted appropriately.”
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland said police often had to break the speed limit because of the nature of their duties.
“If they think it is a life-threatening incident then they will take the decision to drive and break the speed limit to get there as quickly as possible.
“If a motorway lane is blocked, somebody could be in really serious danger. But it is really down to the force in question to look into it to see if the officers actions were justified.”
A spokesman for Tayside Police said there were a “range of reasons” why an officer might break the speed limit.
He said: “There will be occasions when police officers are required to drive in excess of the posted speed limits and this is recognised by the availability of the statutory exemption which can be applied in appropriate circumstances.
“There can be an entire range of reasons why officers might find it necessary to exceed the speed limit.
“In such instances, officers are expected to exercise all necessary care and their training emphasises the importance of being able to do so safely.”