Speeding motorists soar

NUMBERS of motorists caught breaking Suffolk's speed limits have soared by nearly 380 per cent over the past three years, it emerged today.But camera bosses in the county today denied the problem has reached epidemic levels, despite a national survey claiming 15million drivers admit to committing the offence most days.

NUMBERS of motorists caught breaking Suffolk's speed limits have soared by nearly 380 per cent over the past three years, it emerged today.

But camera bosses in the county today denied the problem has reached epidemic levels, despite a national survey claiming 15million drivers admit to committing the offence most days.

In Suffolk, more than 48,000 people were caught speeding in 2004, compared to 27,000 in 2003 and just under 10,000 in 2002.

The increase followed the launch of Suffolk SafeCam, a partnership set up in April 2003 to manage road safety. During the same period, the amount of serious accidents at camera sites has reduced.

In 2003, 129 were killed or seriously injured, compared to 25 last year. Collisions dropped too, from 173 in 2003, to 104 last year.

Michelle Finnerty, of Suffolk SafeCam, said the most important thing is reducing numbers of accidents.

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She said: "I wouldn't agree speeding has reached an epidemic level. The number of offences may be more than it was in April 2003, but there are now more camera sites, more enforcement and the number of accidents is dropping significantly.

"From that point of view, it's not necessarily a bad thing. As long as we see the accidents coming down, I don't think it matters how many people are caught.

"I don't think it's fair to say there are more people speeding than there were last year, for example, but more people are getting caught."

She said the partnership's aim was to make the issue of speeding antisocial in a similar way to which drink driving is now viewed.

Her comments coincide with the release of a RAC report that revealed 55 per cent of drivers admit to regularly speeding on the nation's roads, an increase of 10pc in a year.

It found 57pc of drivers break the motorway speed limit and almost two-thirds break 30mph speed limits - despite speed being the cause of one-third of all fatal accidents.

The RAC said current enforcement levels have little impact, with the most common reason given for continued speeding being the slim chance of getting caught.

RAC spokesman Philip Hale said: "We have something of a speeding epidemic on our hands.

"More motorists than ever are admitting to disorder on the roads. Overall, 16pc - or four million British drivers - do not consider themselves law-abiding, almost double last year's figure."

Is speeding anti-social and do you think speed cameras are a good or bad thing? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

EMERGENCY services were today demonstrating the full horror that an accident can cause in a bid to highlight the road safety message.

Suffolk County Council organised the crash reconstruction to show the potential devastation of an accident.

It was targeted at young people, after statistics revealed a road crash is the most likely cause of death or serious injury among 17 to 25-year-olds, with speed a main factor.

A fire and rescue crew were due to join the police and paramedics to rescue two victims - performing arts students - from a crashed car.

The firefighters were set to use real cutting equipment to cut the victims from the car, while police managed the crash scene and the paramedics dealt with the injuries.

The event, part of the For My Girlfriend campaign, was timed to coincide with St Valentine's day.

It was first launched in February 2002 and targets young drivers.

Research has shown this age group often fear killing or maiming someone they are close to - possibly a girlfriend or a best mate.

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