48,000 drivers caught speeding in a year
MORE than 48,000 drivers were caught speeding in Suffolk over the past 12 months – raising almost £3million in fines, it has been revealed.Police in the county said there was no excuse for the high number of offenders, particularly as speed camera sites were highly visible and widely publicised.
By Danielle Nuttall
MORE than 48,000 drivers were caught speeding in Suffolk over the past 12 months – raising almost £3million in fines, it has been revealed.
Police in the county said there was no excuse for the high number of offenders, particularly as speed camera sites were highly visible and widely publicised.
The figure was revealed as Suffolk SafeCam – the partnership set up to manage road safety – reported dramatic reductions in the number of accidents in which people are killed or seriously injured in parts of the county.
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Only a fraction of the income generated through speeding fines returns to Suffolk to help cover the costs of the county's speed cameras, with the majority going to the Government.
Figures show that, during the past 12 months, the annual rate of casualties killed or seriously injured at sites where speed cameras have been introduced has fallen from 129 in 2003 to 25 in 2004.
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There have also been fewer collisions at sites where cameras have been introduced - from 173 in 2003 to 104 in 2004 – with a reduction in the severity of injuries incurred.
Chief Inspector Alan Pawsey, of Suffolk police, said: "Offences at camera sites are dropping as motorists become more aware that they will be caught if they break the law but, despite this, over 48,000 people were prosecuted last year for excess speed.
"The camera sites are widely publicised so there's absolutely no need for this number of people to be caught. Not only are they increasing their chances of being involved in a collision, they are also endangering other road users."
The senior police officer rejected some motorist's claims that camera enforcement is unfair. "People have not got a leg to stand on. Everyone knows the speed limit," he said.
"Tell me what sort of driver thinks they can ignore the speed limit with a visible message right under their nose? It's one who's not paying attention and is a hazard to other drivers."
Suffolk SafeCam has recently submitted a list of proposed new sites for the next operational year, beginning in April, to the Department for Transport. Approval of these sites is expected around February.
Michelle Finnerty, Suffolk SafeCam communications manager, said: "These figures are extremely encouraging and are as a direct result of drivers slowing down and sticking to the speed limits.
"Perhaps one of the most important messages that we want to get across is that drivers should stick to speed limits at all times, not just when they think there might be a camera around."
County councillor Peter Monk, portfolio holder for public protection, added: "A reasonable amount of the money generated will go back into the SafeCam partnership to cover operational costs but other from that we gain nothing from it. And neither should we.
"From my point of view it would be absolutely wonderful if we had no income from speed cameras because it would mean that they were working and we were reducing accidents.
"At the end of the day it's not about raising money but saving lives. Saving one death in society is better than raising £1million."
Andrew Howard, head of road safety for the AA Motoring Trust, said: "The first year of figures is always going to be high because cameras are placed in the best areas where speeding and accidents are most common.
"As a results you might not see an improvement year after year because future sites may not be in the worst areas and hopefully more people will have been deterred from speeding."
Suffolk SafeCam's website – www.suffolksafecam.co.uk – shows the location of all camera sites and is updated weekly with mobile enforcement locations.