Hundreds of motorists caught by speed gun in Southwold and Halesworth areas
MORE than 500 motorists have been caught speeding in the Southwold area since March, new figures show.
The drivers have all been caught breaking speed limits on rural roads around Southwold, Reydon, Halesworth, and surrounding villages since a new laser speed-gun was introduced less than two months ago.
Suffolk police have so far warned 362 motorists for speeding, written 107 warning letters, issued fixed penalty tickets – and imposed three points – on 50 occasions, and taken 39 drivers to court.
The highest speed recorded was 69mph in a 30mph zone by a driver on the Halesworth-Reydon road.
This week, the mayor of Southwold has expressed his shock at the figures, but the police officer who helped secure the new speed-gun was hopeful it would help cut speeding offences in the future.
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Sgt Nigel Tompsett said: 'I am not surprised by the figures because I know there is a problem with speeding in the villages and parishes – we do get a lot of speeding reports. So I was keen to get a speed gun exclusively for our team members so we can make life easier for residents and reduce accidents on our roads.
'I would like to think that we would see a reduction in the number of motorists speeding as a result of the speed camera. But I am anxious the number of incidents may increase as my team members get out there and enforce the speed limits. It we hadn't of had the gun then these motorists would have never been caught. The figures show we are tackling the problem. I would hope our community would be encouraged by this.'
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Police have issued 2,454 fixed penalty notices for speeding across Waveney in the last financial year. Meanwhile, more than 700 motorists were caught in a week-long countywide speeding crackdown at the beginning of April.
The blitz was part of a European speed enforcement strategy between April 16 and 22, which saw traffic officers and Suffolk Constabulary's SafeCam vans deployed to increase checks.
After being told how many drivers had been caught speeding, the mayor of Southwold John Windell said: 'I think it is a productive approach to include communities by buying a speed-gun.
'I was quite astonished by the figures. I have been told you have to be doing over 40 or 45mph to be noticed. It is not just people going a few miles per hour over the speed limit that are being caught.'
The �1,966 speed-gun was put to use in the Southwold and Halesworth area after town and parish councils gave �800 and county councillors John Goldsmith and Tony Goldson each gave �583 from their locality budgets.
Mr Goldson, the councillor for Halesworth ward, said: 'Road safety wise its a very good scheme and its helping to make drivers aware that they have to obey the law and the speed gun. If you hit a person in a car travelling at 30mph there's a chance they will survive. But hit them at 40mph and they could die.
'We have to make our town centres safe for people to work in.'
Since February 2009, Community Speed Watch volunteers have been carrying our regular speed checks and passing on the details of speeding drivers to police across Suffolk.
A team of volunteers in Wrentham has been operating for a year and concentrates on Southwold Road and the A12 to make sure motorists adhere to the 30mph speed limit. However, villagers in Blythburgh were the first in Suffolk to train as volunteers to use speed guns to help deter speeding motorists along the A12.
Speeding is known to be one of the 'fatal four' driving offences that are held responsible for causing deaths on our roads. Te others are drink-driving, using a mobile phone and seatbelt offences.
Last year there were 28 fatal collisions on Suffolk's roads, causing 30 deaths.
In six of these, speeding was identified as being a contributory factor.
In 2010 speeding was a contributing factor in just under a third of road deaths in the county.