Accidents down as speed fines rise
FOR some they are the scourge of the road and the bane of their lives.But for the majority of motorists they are proving a lifesaver in Suffolk.Speed cameras are today being heralded as having a major effect on increasing road safety within the county, slashing fatal or serious injury crashes by more than 10 per cent in just one year.
FOR some they are the scourge of the road and the bane of their lives.
But for the majority of motorists they are proving a lifesaver in Suffolk.
Speed cameras are today being heralded as having a major effect on increasing road safety within the county, slashing fatal or serious injury crashes by more than 10 per cent in just one year. COLIN ADWENT reports.
DESPITE complaints of Big Brother tactics, Terry Marsh is a staunch advocate of the contribution speed cameras have on road safety.
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Mr Marsh, who is Suffolk's top road safety manager, today made a vehement case for cameras in the county and the role they play in preserving life and limb.
The project manager for Suffolk Safety Camera Partnership is adamant their positive impact ensures drivers kill their speed, not each other and pedestrians.
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In rebuttal to those carping about the proliferation of cameras, Mr Marsh said the only people forced to pay out are the ones committing a crime.
Hitting back the critics who claim cameras are a way of funding hidden motoring taxes, he illustrated the point by using an analogy that compared speeding to shoplifting.
He said: "It is a rather strange concept. Fines are only payable if you are breaking the law. It's a bit like complaining you have to pay more to go into Sainsbury's because you can't steal as much off the shelves as the security is better.
"In year ending March 31, we issued just over 36,000 notices of intended prosecution countywide.
"We site our enforcement regime to a level we think is going to have the necessary effect and that's primarily one of visibility so that people know enforcement is taking place.
"We have been able to target those sites where speed-related accidents resulted in injuries, particularly in fatalities or serious injuries."
Mr Marsh said the criteria for fixed camera positions is where there have been four accidents in a three-year period per kilometre. For the siting of mobile cameras it is half the number of crashes within the same parameters.
The cost of positioning and maintaining cameras at sites which improve in safety, is claimed back from the government by the partnership, an operation known as netting off.
The government targets Suffolk Safety Camera Partnership with lowering the number of KSI (killed or seriously injured) in accidents on the county's roads.
The year before last there were 400 KSI crashes in Suffolk. When the partnership began its work on April 1, last year, it aimed to reduce this by 21. However Mr Marsh said organisation's strategy has been so successful this has been exceeded by 100 per cent, with 42 less KSI's in the year ending March 31, 2004.
On the subject of mobile van speed cameras, Mr Marsh said: "We look to visit each site several times a month. We always try and concentrate on sites where there is an accident history.
"I think they are quite effective. Based on the sites were have visited the results are excellent. The worst accidents have dropped dramatically against the same type of accident elsewhere in the country. We are very positive about the results we are achieving. We are in no doubt that by getting people to slow down it prevents lots of nasty accidents. We are now catching half as many people as we did originally. The compliance has improved and that's a great step forward."
Mr Marsh said to ensure sneaky drivers, who know where cameras are permanently positioned, are kept on their mettle, mobile cameras are often interspersed among them to prevent complacency.
He said: "We do use mobile cameras in vicinity of the fixed cameras in case people think they can accelerate in between them. Overall on fixed cameras we are getting better than 90 per cent reduction in the number of killed or seriously injured accidents and that's a pretty spectacular in terms of knowing how bad those sites were. A lot of people will be able to identify with those and we have not had criticism of the siting of our fixed cameras. I think people are quite happy. Cameras have gone in locations where they were needed and had a benefit. Some people will be disgruntled, but we would look at it and say a 90 per cent reduction in accidents is a terrific argument against that sort of thing.
"The work is self-funding. It is paid for by those who choose to exceed the speed limit. There is no cost to the public purse. To achieve what we have done could easily have cost £50m in engineering work, or maybe more, and you would not be able to achieve that in the same time span.
"People have got away with it (speeding) for years. I think people will come to accept speeding as being a bad thing and a primary cause of accidents."
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SAFECAM was launched in April 2003 after a submission to the Department for Transport to operate a safety camera partnership.
Its objective is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on Suffolk's roads.
One of its aims is to change drivers' attitudes towards excessive and inappropriate speed through sustained educational and information campaigns.
Safecam is striving to make speeding as anti-social as drink driving.
More than half those who die in road crashes are killed on 60mph single carriageway. In 32 per cent of these accidents no other vehicle is involved.
Michelle Finnerty, communications manager for Suffolk Safecam, said: "There are many myths in the public arena that cameras are located at sites where they will make the most money by additionally 'taxing' motorists. This is simply untrue.
"Visitors to the Suffolk Safecam website can check the accident and casualty history for each location and see the mobile camera locations on a weekly basis."
SUFFOLK Safety Camera Partnership is comprised of;
N Suffolk County Council
N Suffolk Constabulary
N Ipswich NHS Hospital
N Suffolk magistrates
N Crown Prosecution Service
N The Highways Agency