New speed camera to catch bad bikers
26 March 2008 14:13
Speeding motorcyclists were today warned a new type of speed camera would prevent them being able to evade being caught.
Norfolk's first multi-angled safety camera van was launched today as part of a bid to crackdown on reckless motorcyclists causing crashes - and stop them becoming victims themselves.
The van, which has multi-direction cameras and recording systems to enable motorcycles to be identified from front, side and rear, is the Norfolk Safety Camera Partnership's latest, and most advanced, weapon in the casualty reduction fight.
Motorcyclists account for about one in four of killed and serious injury collisions, but just 1pc of all traffic.
The van is the first in the Eastern region and has been paid for with Norfolk County Council Local Transport Plan funding.
John Fairey, the Norfolk Safety Camera Partnership manager, cited two recent instances where motorcyclists travelling at incredibly high speeds had not been prosecuted, because they didn't have front number plates.
Mr Fairey said: “One incident was a motorcyclist travelling at 79pm in a 40mph area at about 9.30am outside Rollesby school. The other was a motorcycle travelling at 137mph on the A148 at Hillington near King's Lynn.”
He added: “We are keen to educate motorcyclists to make them safer on roads, and to educate other drivers about motorcyclists.
“This new equipment will put motorcycles on a level footing with car drivers, whereas previously we have had difficulty in identifying motorcyclists because they don't have front number plates.
“With these new cameras we can film back, front and sideways. If you take the cost of a human life to be £1.3m, then the new equipment, at £26,000 each, costs 2pc of a life.
“The new cameras will also be able to catch tailgating car drivers, who have been able to get away with speeding if they have been driving too close to cars in front.”
In the 12 months from January to December 2007, 14 motorcyclists were killed in the county and 126 seriously injured. And in the first two months of this year, one has been killed and five seriously injured.
The partnership has ordered two more cameras and vans, and the new equipment will be sited at known trouble spots where motorcycles casualties have occurred.
The launch was welcomed by Graham Tansley, 57, a bike rider from Stalham, who has campaigned for tougher sentences for dangerous drivers.
Mr Tansley, a retired head teacher who lost his good friend and fellow biker John Hollebon, of Stalham, in a crash on the A149 in April 2003, said: “I have got no more time for irresponsible motorcyclists behaving dangerously than I have for car drivers.
“To drive at 79mph near a school is totally irresponsible. I would say that 50pc of bikers are mature and sensible on the road, while the other 50pc have bikes because they think they're toys and they're willing to do anything they can get away with. Anything that's going to target those drivers has to be good.”
Stuart Hallett, casualty reduction manager at Norfolk County Council, said: “Casualty statistics show that motorcycles are involved in about 25pc of all killed or serious injuries on Norfolk roads. But only about 1pc of traffic are motorcycles, so it's a disproportionate risk.
“Therefore, for us and our partner agencies, the police, highways agency, ambulance and fire service, NHS Norfolk, all working together, motorcycles are a key target group for us to help reduce the casualties on Norfolk's roads.
“One of the issues for motorcyclists is that very often excessive speed is causing them to lose control so we need to reduce their speed. This is why this camera is being introduced. This equipment is very much enforcement, but there is a balance.
“Throughout 2008 there will be campaigns to get motorcyclists to reduce their speed, and the county council is now subsidising the cost of the Safe Rider police scheme, whereby motorcyclists can, for £25, get training and advice from police riders.
“Motorcyclists need to know that if they do speed in Norfolk, they will get caught.”
Norfolk Constabulary's Deputy Chief Constable Ian Learmouth said the success of the scheme would be judged on whether or not the number of injuries on the county's roads was reduced.
He said: “It's not about the number of tickets we issue for speeding. We want to educate bikers to moderate their speed, and if they don't, they will be prosecuted.”
The scheme was also welcomed by road safety groups.
Lorna Jackson, a spokeswoman for road safety charity, Brake, said: “Brake fully supports police forces who explore new technology in order to reduce the number of people being killed or seriously injured on roads.
“This looks like a good initiative and the force has obviously identified the problem of motorcyclists speeding and causing crashes and has taken this approach to target it.”
Liz Voysey, from Dereham, whose daughter Amy Upcraft died in a crash on the A47 and is now a member of the Norfolk branch of charity, Roadpeace, said: “Anything that helps save lives I'm in favour of. My daughter was killed by a speeding motorist and I hope this will help moderate the speed of all drivers.”
However, Nigel Humphries, a spokesman for The Association of British Drivers, said it was the wrong way to tackle road deaths.
He said: “The way to tackle motorcycle deaths is to have more police cars on the roads, looking for dangerous behaviour, rather than speed cameras taking pictures of them to send fines through the post, by which time they could have been killed on the roads.
“Most accidents involving motorcyclists are not the motorcyclists' fault. There are a few reckless motorcyclists, but their lack of visibility by car drivers and car drivers not paying attention are also concerns.”
Extra funding was awarded to the county council, after the government target of a 40pc reduction in killed/serious injury crashes on the county's roads was achieved four years early in 2006.
Visit www.eveningnews24.co.uk to see a video from the safety camera partnership on why motorcyclists should slow down.
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