Bristol gets new speed cameras
Tuesday, December 09, 2008, 12:23
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Roadside cameras which record number plates around the clock and capture motorists speeding have gone up on two busy roads in Bristol.
The cameras, called Watchmen, do not issue speeding tickets or penalty points, record the number plate of every vehicle as well as the date and time of a speeding offence.
They have gone up in Whiteladies Road, by Chris Allen, and Long Cross, Clifton, and will be switched on in the next few weeks.
At a cost of £60,000, the cameras record cars on both sides of the road and have been put up by Bristol City Council.
And although fines are not issued instantly – as with most other speed cameras – police will still be able to prosecute anyone caught speeding, if they choose.
They can also be used to record the movements of passing vehicles and can store the details of up to two million cars.
The cameras are linked to a control room where officials can monitor live pictures as they are taken.
Police can also use the cameras to track criminals but mainly they are designed to make the road safer, by slowing vehicles down.
Signs which flash the speed limit as passing cars have also gone up at both locations.
Similar cameras are already operating in Allison Road, Lawrence Weston.
The new locations have been chosen because of their high accident rates.
There were 63 reported accidents in Whiteladies Road between January 2005 and December last year – with two people killed and nine seriously injured.
At Long Cross, there were 27 reported accidents during the same period, with six people seriously injured.
Council officials said driving over the speed limit was an issue in a large number of the accidents at both locations.
In the year since the cameras went up in Brislington, there have been no accidents which have caused serious injuries
Opinions on the new cameras are mixed.
Sean Tobin, 39, who has run Greyhound Print Solutions in Whiteladies Road for 18 years, said: "Personally, I don't like speed cameras, though they have got their place.
"I have seen one or two cyclists knocked off their bikes but I don't think Whiteladies Road is an accident blackspot.
"Gloucester Road is much more treacherous as cars park on both sides of the road."
Brian Rees, 35, who works at the printing firm, said: "The cameras have got to be in the right place.
"Even in the evening people tend to drive slowly along Whiteladies Road because they all want to be seen."
James Blackburn, 60, who owns the Fired Earth tile shop in Aberdeen Road, just off Whiteladies, said local traders had received a letter from the council about the new cameras.
He said: "The letter contained various justifications for the new cameras. I've never seen an accident in Whiteladies Road.
"I am utterly against cameras. I have an aversion to street furniture, which is ruining our cities, and I feel cameras in Whiteladies Road are unnecessary.
James Griffiths, 26, who works in Bar Humbug, said: "I think it's a good idea. Whiteladies Road is a highly populated area with a lot of students and there have been incidents where cars have not stopped for people on the zebra crossing, especially at night."
The bursar of Weston Park Primary School in Long Cross, Lawrence Weston, said the introduction of speed cameras was "brilliant".
She said: "Cars tend to speed along Long Cross all the time. We haven't got a lollipop person at the moment and it is dangerous for the children who have to cross the road."
She said the move was welcomed by staff and parents whose children attend Weston Park and Bluebell Valley nursery next door.
Councillor Mark Bradshaw, cabinet member for sustainable development, said: "The Watchman Scheme works. It is a proven way to reduce accidents and injuries.
"It aims to encourage safer driving behaviour in locations where a combination of high accident levels and dangerous driving continue to cause concern.
"The new schemes on stretches of road in Lawrence Weston and Clifton are part of the council's ambitious programme to make our city a safer and healthier place and provide better neighbourhoods for our residents."