City to speed up use of cameras
Mobile checks may be moved to many more busy roads
Paul Whitehouse
THE use of mobile speed cameras, which at present can only be used in areas with a proven record of bad crashes, could be expanded to cover many more roads in Sheffield.
When the Government introduced the current
system of safety camera partnerships to operate roadside checks on motorists it also set down a set of tight rules.
They were meant to ensure that cameras would be used to catch motorists only in locations where speed was deemed a factor in causing serious or fatal collisions.
One of the aims of the system was to head off criticisms that the new system was being used principally as a cash generator, rather than a road safety measure.
However, Sheffield councillors are being asked to approve a change to that system which would allow camera enforcement vans to operate on roads where there is "community concern", a public perception that traffic speeds are causing a danger rather than a record of problems.
The South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership is operated by organisations including police and the county's four councils.
Like all such partnerships, it is able to reclaim its operating costs from the money it generates in fining drivers under an agreement with the Treasury, which keeps surplus income.
Most of the cameras it operates are in fixed roadside boxes, but it also has several mobile units operated from a fleet of vans.
They can be used at different locations, a tactic planned to prevent drivers simply slowing down at fixed sites then accelerating again, but only on sections of road with poor records for serious casualties or fatalities.
The only other locations where they are allowed are what are described as exceptional sites, which either have a bad record which falls just below the benchmark for regular enforcement or on roads where engineering changes are needed to improve safety, but have not yet been implemented.
If the new protocol is approved by councillors, those vans will be allowed to move into areas of community concern although Sheffield Council would be responsible for identifying the sites where they were allowed to conduct checks.
A series of procedures would take place, with council officials looking at features such as the presence of schools, traffic volumes and accident histories before making an initial decision.
The camera partnership would then be asked to conduct surveys at each site to measure the numbers of drivers speeding and to what extent they were breaking the law.
If the speed surveys identified a problem the cameras would be moved in, with back-up checks to test whether vehicle speeds had been reduced or whether further enforcement work is be necessary.
The extent of the additional work would be held back by one of the rules
governing the camera partnership's work, which stipulates that no more than 15 per cent of its 'live' camera time can be spent away from the county's core sites, those acknowledged as having such poor crash records they need regular enforcement.
Sheffield Council's highways officials are recommending that councillors approve the new system when they meet on Monday.
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18 July 2006