Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Revealed: Northern Ireland's hotspots for speeding fines

£250,000 in penalties from just one camera in Belfast

The notorious speed camera at Saintfield Road, Belfast

This is the spot where you are most likely to get a speeding ticket in Northern Ireland.

Situated on the outskirts of Belfast, the PSNI's most prolific camera is nabbing a dozen drivers every single day.

The Saintfield Road speed camera caught over 4,200 motorists in the last year – almost a tenth of all tickets issued in Northern Ireland.

And with each ticket bringing its driver a minimum £60 penalty, the camera brought in at least £252,000 in that year.

The Belfast Telegraph today reveals the location of every speeding offence caught on camera in the last three years – and the areas where drivers are most likely to be detected.

Top of the list is the 3.6-mile Saintfield Road between Belfast and Carryduff.

A total of 9,286 drivers were caught in a three-year period, including 4,247 in the last year.

In one of the worst examples, police said a driver was snapped at 79mph in a 30mph zone.

Other speeding hotspots include:

* Belfast's Antrim Road, where 4,220 motorists were caught last year;

* The notorious Frosses Road near Ballymoney, where 3,004 detections were made in 2012;

* And the Dungiven Road in Londonderry, where a camera snapped 2,531 speeding drivers last year.

The figures were released by the PSNI following a Freedom of Information request.

They cover a three-year period between January 2010 and December 2012.

During that time, 124,466 speeding motorists were caught.

The number of detections has risen sharply in that time.

Last year cameras recorded 48,423 speeding motorists – a 47% rise on 2010, when 32,795 people were caught.

It will reopen the debate over cameras, and whether they reduce accidents or are simply a money-generating device.

The Alliance of British Drivers, a motoring lobby group which opposes speed cameras, claimed they are not effective.

Spokesman, Brian Moon, said: "People will slow down for a camera because they know it's there, but will speed up again as soon as they pass it."

However, according to road safety charity Brake speed cameras are proven deterrents to speeders.

"Some anti-camera groups have described them as an unfair tax on motorists, but they aren't; if you don't speed, you won't get caught or fined," it said.

"Evidence of the effectiveness of cameras at reducing speeds and casualties has been well recorded."

Superintendent David Moore, head of operations branch at the PSNI, said speed was one of the biggest dangers on the roads.

He revealed that last year police caught a motorist driving at 79mph in a 30mph limit.

"Excess and inappropriate speed for the conditions kills," he said.

Almost one-in-10 of all speeding offences were recorded on the Saintfield Road.

Among drivers snapped by it is former cricket star Sir Ian Botham.

Botham, a legendary all-rounder for England, was allegedly caught breaking the 40mph limit on April 29 this year.

The Saintfield Road camera is one of four fixed cameras in Northern Ireland, all in the Belfast area.

The other three are located at the Antrim Road, Springfield Road and Upper Newtownards Road.

Those four cameras snapped 11,413 speeders last year – a quarter of all detections made in 2012.

Police also have mobile cameras, and these have been deployed at 71 sites across Northern Ireland during the last three years.

A mobile camera situated on the Frosses Road/Crankill Road area near Ballymoney – a notorious accident blackspot – caught 3,000 speeding motorists last year.

Meanwhile, a camera at the Dungiven Road near Londonderry snapped 2,531 speeders.

In some areas the number of detections has risen sharply.

A camera on the A2 Belfast to Bangor road caught 1,182 motorists in 2012 compared to 271 in 2010. Another 191 were snapped on the Dublin Road near Newry last year. In 2010 no detections were made.

Some 9,686 detections were also made at community concern sites.

A speeding fine attracts a £60 penalty but there are higher variations depending on the severity of the offence and how the case is dealt with if it ends up in court.

Penalty points can also be added to the speeder's licence but drivers are offered the option of going on a speed awareness course.

The PSNI could not say how much revenue had been raised from speed cameras, claiming fines were a matter for the Court Service.

Do cameras on roads cut the accident rate?

Yes - says PSNI Superintendent David Moore

Stop speeding and more people live. Speed, or more accurately excessive speed for the conditions, is the principal single cause of the most serious road traffic collisions in which people are killed or seriously injured on roads across Northern Ireland.

In 2012, 48 people lost their lives on the roads here. Whilst that's the lowest number of road fatalities since records began, when you consider that many, if not the majority of these collisions could have been avoided, it's an appalling waste of life.

Last year the number of people detected by the Northern Ireland Road Safety Partnership speeding or running a red light rose by 12.1% to 48,907, when compared to figures for 2011.

Just over 60% of these drivers attended a speed awareness course; around 35% were given a fixed penalty notice with the remainder being referred to the Public Prosecution Service for prosecution. There was even a detection of 79mph in a 30mph limit. A well maintained car travelling at 30 mph should be able to stop in around six car lengths, but at 79mph the same car will take around 27 car lengths to stop.

While this is one of the worst examples of speeding, it is sad that people continue to take these completely unnecessary risks.

In addition to the camera detections, during 2012 police also issued 5,885 fixed penalty notices for excess speed and dealt with a further 2,422 drivers through the discretionary disposal scheme.

Excess and inappropriate speed for the conditions kills.

No - says roads campaigner Brian Moon

Cameras don't reduce accidents – they are just about generating revenue. They don't make people slow down.

Drivers know where cameras are, so they just slow down for the camera. Once they pass it, they will return to their original speed.

Studies in the United States and Canada have shown that if over 85% of traffic is going faster than the speed limit, the speed limit is wrong, not the driver.

It's called the 85th percentile.

Another problem is that cameras are often not situated at the correct location. For example, there may be an accident blackspot at a crossroads, but often the camera will be positioned a few hundred yards away.

It doesn't actually get people to slow down at the crossroads.

People know where the speed camera is, they will slow down approaching it but then speed up again as they go past the crossroads. Figures and statistics are trotted out to justify a speed camera, but in many areas of the UK they have simply become a revenue-maker for the police.

Yes, there may be a drop in speed, but that's only at the point where the camera is situated. Travel a few hundred yards down the road and average speed rises again. It's all a myth. Putting up speed cameras is not the answer.

At the most fundamental level, cameras hinder observation and could make accidents more likely.

Excessive reliance on speed enforcement can also divert resources away from the much more effective road improvement and education policies.

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