Speeding convictions rocket

CONVICTIONS for speeding in Suffolk have almost doubled over a five-year period, according to government figures.

The Ministry of Justice has revealed a steep increase from 1,856 speeding convictions in the county’s courts in 2004 to 3,577 in 2008.

Following the release of the figures road safety campaigners called for even lower speed limits and police warned errant motorists that they would continue to pursue prosecutions.

Both organisations stressed that even going a few miles above the current legal limits could potentially have fatal consequences.

Yesterday The East Anglian Daily Times reported how the parents of 18-year-old Stacey Cutts made an impassioned plea for young drivers to slow down after she was killed by her boyfriend who drove up at 120mph.

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Tom Wright, 23, of Wortham, near Diss, and fellow driver Jake Riseborough, 19, of St Mary’s Close, Harleston, were each jailed for three-and-a-half years by Norwich Crown Court on Monday.

The pair had been racing on the A140 Ipswich Road in April last year when Wright lost control of his Toyota Celica killing Miss Cutts, of Harleston, who was a passenger in the car.

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Leading road safety organisation Brake wants changes to the law and is campaigning for a reduction on speed limits in built-up areas.

A recent study showed 49 per cent of drivers exceeded the legal limit in 30mph zones.

Ellen Booth, Brake’s campaigns’ officer said: “It is still a huge issue and something that really needs to be tackled from a behavioural point of view.

“Speeding is still one of the major contributing factors in between a quarter and a third of all road deaths. It is one of the biggest issues we, as a road safety charity, want action on.

“We would like to see the government introduce standardised 20mph limits on residential roads and in built-up areas. We would also like to see an increased use of average speed cameras for 20mph zones.

“We would really like drivers to take a much more responsible approach to their driving. It is so important, as those extra miles per hour make such a difference on low speed roads. The difference between driving at 20mph and 35mph has such an effect on the difference between life and death.”

The county’s police force pledge it will continue to take action against those speeding and also warned of the potentially tragic consequences.

Kate Rutsch, spokeswoman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “Excess speed can have a devastating impact and is one of the main causation factors of fatal and serious injury collisions in the county.

“If you speed you could face prosecution. If you are involved in a serious or fatal collision the consequences are far reaching. Remember, you’ll have to live with it for the rest of your life.”

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown was embroiled in an alleged speeding controversy last week when he visited Suffolk.

While other drivers are forced to keep to the 50mph speed limit currently in place on the A14 between Claydon and Copdock, an eyewitness claimed the Premier’s convoy appeared to be driving at about 60mph in the restricted zone on the way to Ipswich on Monday.

Gavin Stewart, of Lower Holbrook, said he was overtaken by Mr Brown’s entourage - which included police motorcyclists and unmarked black cars with blue flashing lights.

“There was no apparent emergency. Was it legitimate for the police escorted convoy to ignore it? [the 50mph limit],” Mr Stewart asked.

“Would it not have been better for the police and VIPs to set an example by observing the speed limit?”

In response Suffolk’s deputy chief constable Jacqui Cheer said: “Police drivers who drive and escort VIPs receive additional training and work under the guidance of a trained convoy supervisor.

“The decision to increase the speed of the convoy is not taken lightly and will have been judged to have been the safest tactic for all road users during this particular visit.”

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