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Road deaths rise and speeding fines fall after traffic unit patrols are axed

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 02, 2012

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Motorists in Devon and Cornwall have been hit with fewer speeding fines since a controversial decision was made to cut the number of traffic officers.

Westcountry drivers paid out less than £1 million in fines for exceeding the speed limit last year, after Devon and Cornwall Police axed its dedicated patrol officers.

Concerns have been raised that the region's roads have become more dangerous, following recent figures which revealed a spike in the number of fatal accidents so far this year.

The latest figures obtained by the Western Morning News revealed fine revenues were at their lowest for the past decade.

Sergeant Nigel Rabbits, chairman of the Police Federation in Devon and Cornwall, questioned whether the reduced enforcement had made the roads "less safe".

"The pattern is reflective of less police being on the roads. The drastic cuts have definitely impacted officers' ability to deal with speeding.

"Those who were in the road policing unit have been diverted to other jobs, and do not have the time to monitor traffic."

Fears over safety on the roads have been heightened after it was recently revealed the fatal accident rate had risen. Some 32 deaths occurred on the roads of Devon and Cornwall in the first six months of this year, compared with a 12-month average of 50 deaths in the past two years.

Statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act showed 15,921 fixed penalty notices were issued for motoring offences in 2010-11. That compares with 19,866 tickets issued in the previous year and some 53,204 in 2004-05.

Speeding drivers paid out £955,260 in fines, which represents a rapid decline from the £3.2 million they were hit with seven years ago.

Devon and Cornwall Police has said there are no plans to reintroduce its dedicated traffic unit. Inspector Richard Pryce, force lead for Devon and Cornwall's road policing, said: "In recent years drivers are attending speed awareness courses instead of getting points on their licenses.

"The technology to enforce road safety is the same, but the disposal methods have changed in response to the Government's agenda."

Brake, the road safety charity, said it was "very concerned" that lower levels of enforcement were "making roads more dangerous".

A spokesman said: "Reduced enforcement encourages drivers to take needless risks, which can only lead to more injuries and deaths."

Keat Peat, the Association of British Drivers' regional co-ordinator, said arguments about speed cameras reducing the number of accidents were "nonsense".

He added: "Speed cameras are about making money, not saving lives."

The TaxPayers' Alliance said lower fines were "not a bad thing" because of "little real evidence" of speed camera effectiveness.

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  • regerme  |  July 16 2012, 2:26PM

    'regerme' the peer pressure road safety method. Constructive communication posting pictures and comments against the registration numbers of dangerous or anti social drivers. Alternatively search 'regerme' and input your reg, you may have a comment. Use this free to use altruistic site and make a difference

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  • rob5gt  |  July 02 2012, 9:16PM

    I am not a fan of the traffic police. Catching someone going 40mph in a 30mph zone in a 30k posh BMW is not a good way to use money! Let alone the service costs of their fleet of vehicles. I am fed up of the Police moaning about their cuts. 99% of business have had cuts. They are lucky they still have a job. Stop moaning Devon and Cornwall police and get on with your jobs ! Times change- get on with it !!

  • Bob_Wickerman  |  July 02 2012, 6:51PM

    Talkmon quote-'Bob_Wickerman - Incorrect! The police are allowed to speed and are trained to do it safely if speeding was dangerous driving they wouldn't be allowed to do it'.. Nevertheless, police drivers still have accidents despite all their training! Watch a few Liveleak videos to see how going fast causes accidents because it cuts down drivers reaction time. For example if a car pulls out in front of you a hundred yards away, you can easily brake in time if you're going slower rather than faster, it's not rocket science..:)

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  • thetalkmon  |  July 02 2012, 6:27PM

    henryblince - nobody has said speed isnt a factor and like I said in a previous comment in certain circumstances speed will make an accident worse. Hitting a child is one of those accidents that can happen to a safe driver at a safe speed if they jump out in front of the car!. Children are usually found in urban areas and accidents involving hitting a child seem to be quite rare fortunetly and most likely will be a child jumping out or driver not paying attention not something I would link to speeding!

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  • henryblince  |  July 02 2012, 5:58PM

    If you tell me that speed isn't a factor then you're telling me that hitting a child at 15mph is exactly the same as hitting one at 70mph. Of course speed is a factor, stop being ridiculous.

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  • mikelister66  |  July 02 2012, 12:33PM

    Fines have fallen as there are no police out there to catch them...

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  • thetalkmon  |  July 01 2012, 10:59PM

    Bob_Wickerman - Incorrect! The police are allowed to speed and are trained to do it safely if speeding was dangerous driving they wouldn't be allowed to do it and would use helicopters for every pursuit. Also if you look at court cases related to speeding they take into consideration the road conditions and decide how dangerous that speed was in those conditions not just the speed alone. The reason we have speed limits is because there has to be some definable limit so people know exactly what speed they can go. It doesn't mean going over that speed is always dangerous. You could have a road which has 40mph limit but in the dry speeds of 60 or more is perfectly safe yet in the wet poor drainage could make 40mph the fastest you can safely go. In this case speed limits have to be set for all circumstances and usually are set lower to take into account bad conditions. So in conclusion saying the statement "speeding is dangerous" is very naive and shows you have no understanding of different roads and different conditions all have a different driving speed which would be considered safe. Please think about this if you ever go out driving !

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  • Peter20113  |  July 01 2012, 10:50PM

    the police cant be in all places all the time an idea which will put the S***s up all drivers If caught - automatic ban for 3 months/doubling car insurance/trashing of car

    |   -7
  • 34Eric  |  July 01 2012, 9:36PM

    devondale08, perhaps if you were a victim of constant "domestic disputes" you might have a different view on policing priorities.

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  • Bob_Wickerman  |  July 01 2012, 8:30PM

    Talkmon quote-'speed doesn't kill, dangerous driving does'.. Speeding IS dangerous driving..;)

    |   -5