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'Until the deaths stop I’ll not apologise for backing speed cameras' - says Commissioner

By the time you read this the latest tool designed to make Devon and Cornwall safer for its residents will be fully operational, and I expect to receive a lot of correspondence about it.

'Until the deaths stop I’ll not apologise for backing speed cameras' - says Commissioner

Drivers are not huge fans of speed cameras - or should I say drivers who break the law are not huge fans of them. Yet there is increasing evidence that they work, reducing the number of collisions and their seriousness.

This latest camera is a bit different though. It monitors a 20mph limit on Old Laira Road, Plymouth. These limits are not typically enforced by speed cameras or police, so this is a step into the unknown for the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership.

If the test period is anything to go buy the ticketing office is going to be extremely busy over the next few weeks and months. During an eight-week test period before activation, the two-directional camera detected more than 1,100 speeding drivers in the first 24 hours and more than 23,500 in total.

Those caught travelling just over the stated speed limit will be offered an educational course, provided they have not completed one in the past three years.

Offences above this threshold will face a £100 fine and three points or be sent directly to court for higher speed offences.

Being caught by a speed camera is a great reminder to ourselves that we aren’t all good drivers all of the time and that bad habits may have crept in - so bad that they might kill people. Receiving a Notice of Intended Prosecution challenges us to reflect on our driving behaviour – particularly if we opt to go on an educational speed awareness course rather than accept a fine and points on our licence.

The average speed cameras on the Kingskerswell bypass near Torquay have worked to ensure greater compliance with the speed limit. Although new roads need to be engineered to suit the speed limits better as drivers can feel that the design and condition of a road can be misleading and naturally lends itself to higher speeds.

Anyone thinking that the £230,000 investment in this latest bit of kit (£190,000 of that was supplied by the Department of Transport) is a colossal waste of public money, and police should be investing all their time and effort catching ‘real’ criminals (whatever that means) should be aware of the following facts before they write to me, the Chief Constable, Plymouth City Council or their local paper.

Firstly, the camera was installed by the council after people living on their road called for action to make it safer, and said they preferred it to traffic calming measures, so this step has been taken with the people who really matter in mind, the men, women and children who live in this residential part of our police force area and felt threatened by speeding drivers.

Secondly, police and partners agree that there must be no let up in the efforts to make our roads safer in every way. Predictably and as reliably as the changing of the clocks the onset of summer has brought with it a number of collisions with tragic consequences across Devon and Cornwall.

Over the May bank holiday weekend four people lost their lives after road traffic collisions, with one claiming the life of a pedestrian in Torquay an hour and a half before three lives were lost following a collision near St Austell.

Two motorcyclists were killed, one in East Cornwall and another near Crediton in Devon. There is no indication that excess speed was a factor in these incidents but we know travelling too fast reduces the time in which a driver can react and increases the risk of serious or fatal injuries in the event of a collision, and I am of the belief that we have to make every effort in education and enforcement to protect lives and reduce the devastating impact of these events on victims’ loved ones.

The camera became operational on Monday (May 9, 2022) so I expect to hear from indignant drivers who think they should be able to break the speed limit with impunity.

Until no one is killed or seriously injured in our police force area I make no apology for supporting greater education about road safety and enforcement of these limits.