Belfast Telegraph

112 motorists caught speeding every day in Northern Ireland

2,545 detections in one year alone on a single Belfast route

By Adrian Rutherford and Claire McNeilly

More than 100 motorists a day are caught speeding on Northern Ireland's roads.

A total of 40,969 speed offences were recorded in 2018 - an increase of over 30% on the previous year.

One route alone, the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast, had over 2,500 incidents.

The figures are revealed just days after a self-proclaimed boy racer who killed a husband and wife while speeding was jailed.

Charles Hugh Macartney was sentenced to 14 months in prison for causing the deaths of Co Down couple Dean and Sandra Weir.

Their daughter Katie urged people to be more aware of their actions on the road.

"People don't realise that speeding kills; that's the biggest problem," she said.

"It's just as dangerous as driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, or while using a mobile phone.

"I lost both my parents because of a speeding driver."

Details of speeding offences in 2018 are revealed in a new report published by the Northern Ireland Road Safety Partnership.

Diane Pennington of the PSNI
Diane Pennington of the PSNI

The 40,969 incidents recorded last year is equivalent to 112 every day on average.

While the 2018 total has risen by 31.8% on the previous year, the report notes the number of detections in 2017 (31,076) was unusually low, mainly because of staffing issues.

In the six years prior to 2017, annual speeding offences ranged from 41,761 to 48,423.

Katie Weir lost her parents to a boy racer
Katie Weir lost her parents to a boy racer

The number of speed detections has quadrupled since 2004, largely due to a reduction in the threshold at which a driver can be detected speeding.

Some 2,545 speeding offences took place on the Upper Newtownards Road.

It is one of four locations where fixed (permanent) speed cameras are in place.

The other three are the Saintfield Road (1,460 detections), Antrim Road (1,324) and Springfield Road (641).

Other detections were made by mobile cameras at various sites.

Currently there are eight mobile speed camera vans that operate seven days a week at more than 80 permanently signed locations, as well as community concern sites.

The Frosses Road/Crankill Road route in Co Antrim had 1,946 detections in 2018.

The report reveals over half (58.3%) of all speed related detections were on 30mph roads.

In one case a driver was caught at 74mph in a 30mph zone.

The highest speed recorded in 2018 was 108mph. This was detected on the A1, a 70mph road. Ms Weir (25) said too many people are not aware of the consequences of speeding.

She added: "If the numbers of people caught speeding are so high it's because people aren't taking the issue seriously enough.

"Cars are killing machines - that's what the judge said.

"That young man caused the deaths of my mum and dad because he was going too fast and because of that I had to organise a funeral for two people.

"Speed limits are there for a reason, people should respect them and there should be tougher sentences for killer drivers. Speeding kills; speeding drivers shouldn't be on the road."

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly, a member of the Policing Board, said: "There is a massive problem with speeding in Northern Ireland, particularly on rural roads.

"Almost all fatalities or serious injuries in car crashes today are down to human error.

"Speeding enforcement is poor, education about speeding is poor and there should be severe punishments handed out to repeat offenders."

A spokesperson for road safety charity Brake said: "Selfish, speeding drivers put not only themselves, but all other road users, at serious risk, and it is concerning to see an increase in the number of drivers caught speeding in Northern Ireland."

There were 748 injury collisions recorded at safety camera sites in 2018 - 73 of these were accidents that led to fatal or serious injury.

The PSNI said excessive speed is consistently one of the principal causes of most serious road traffic collisions.

Chief Inspector Diane Pennington said: "Tragically, 24 people have already lost their lives on our roads this year. Everyone should stop and think about this figure for a moment.

"Every time you hear about a fatal or serious collision on the news, there is a family, a circle of friends, a community plunged into mourning.

"There are many other people across the country who are having to learn how to cope with life-changing injuries after being involved in serious collisions.

"This is why it is critically important to remind all drivers that there are consequences to breaking the speed limit and driving in a manner that does not consider the safety of all road users.

"Police will continue to enforce the law and are determined to make Northern Ireland's roads safer.

"If everyone slowed down, did not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wore a seatbelt and drove with greater care and attention then together we can save lives on our roads."

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