Essex tops speed fine table

MOTORISTS in Essex are receiving more fines than any other county, as it becomes the “speed camera capital” of the UK.The latest figures released by the Home Office reveal that people are more likely to receive speeding penalties as they drive through Essex than anywhere else.

MOTORISTS in Essex are receiving more fines than any other county, as it becomes the “speed camera capital” of the UK.

The latest figures released by the Home Office reveal that people are more likely to receive speeding penalties as they drive through Essex than anywhere else.

Now the Association of British Drivers is calling for the Essex Safety Camera Partnership to be disbanded, blasting the policy as “simplistic and naïve”.

And Simon Burns, MP for West Chelmsford, hit out at the positioning of the cameras, which he claimed were not improving road safety.


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However, the partnership has refuted the claims, saying the cameras were “without a doubt” successful.

Yesterday Tony Vickers, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, said: "No matter what propaganda and cherry-picking statistics Essex Safety Camera Partnership use to promote and to try to convince us that speed cameras have any value other than income generators, the bottom line is the number of fatalities.”

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He claimed: "Speed cameras in Essex are not saving lives. They are raising money and making drivers frustrated and angry.

“As soon as the partnership is disbanded the sooner we can get back to sensible road safety policies.

"Speed cameras are being used wrongly as they are being used as substitutes for trained traffic police and they cannot even tell if you are exceeding the speed limit dangerously or not."

He said people who were driving only slightly over the speed limit but were not a danger were being caught in their "hundreds and thousands" while drugged, drunk or reckless drivers were going uncaught.

"The consequence is that drivers have less respect for the law, for the police and the magistrates' courts,” he added.

The statistics show that Essex motorists received 213,861 speeding fines in 2002 compared to the lowest county in the country, Gloucestershire, which issued only 4,799.

The county with the second highest number of fines was Lancashire, where 162,058 were issued. Surrey, which has more motorway miles than Essex, issued 25 times fewer tickets – a total of 8,703 fines.

Mr Burns said: “While I fully accept that as part of the road safety campaign there is a viable role for speed cameras those cameras should only be placed by accident blackspots and where there are roads with road safety problems.

“Unfortunately though, there is a view amongst many motorists that cameras are, in certain circumstances, being used simply to fleece motorists out of money.

“What is equally disturbing is that at a time when the number of fines is rising dramatically in Essex we have not seen a corresponding fall in road deaths and injury figures.

“Last year, we saw the number of fatalities on roads in Essex rise from 87 to 116 and the number of serious injuries go up from 1,243 to 1,321.”

Kelly Fairweather, the partnership's liaison officer, defended the county's 90 fixed speed cameras, six mobile vans and 25 red-light cameras and said new cameras targeted road safety blackspots under government rules.

She said the county's high figures may be due to Essex using cameras for longer and asserted that the partnership was “one part to the complete answer to raod safety”.

“They certainly are reducing speeds. They are without a doubt successful and people have requested camera enforcement in the local community as they want people to slow down.

“Lots of research undertaken over many years shows that if you reduce the average speed then you reduce the number of accidents as well,” she added.

n Meanwhile a survey revealed that 27% of 11 to 16-year-old pedestrians and cyclists in East Anglia have come close to having a road accident.

The results published by the Department for Transport's THINK! road safety campaign revealed that more than a quarter of children had been involved in a near miss when travelling on foot.

One in seven had nearly been involved in an accident when riding their bikes and 69% know friends or family members who have had a near miss.

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