Speed cameras to stay as bike death toll falls

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Mobile safety cameras could become a permanent feature on the roads of England’s largest county after a fall in the number of bikers’ deaths during a pilot scheme.

The number of motorcyclists who have lost their lives on the county’s roads has fallen since the introduction of a mobile speed camera last summer but police have warned rogue bikers are still putting lives at risk.

In 2010, the year before the pilot was introduced, 20 bikers including two pillion passengers died in North Yorkshire. More than three quarters of these deaths were down to rider error, although not necessarily speed related.

Last year, 11 motorcyclists lost their lives and so far this year six have died on the county’s roads. Despite the fall in deaths people are continuing to flout the law.

Last week motorcyclist Gary Dobson, 40, of Old Lee Bank, Halifax, was banned for driving for six months after he was captured by police riding at 144mph in a 70mph zone on the A63 near South Milford.

Inspector Dave Brown, of North Yorkshire Police’s strategic roads policing group, said: “Bikers’ deaths have fallen but we are not complacent. Road safety is an absolute priority for North Yorkshire Police and we will continue to target those people who flout the law and put other people’s lives in danger.”

The force has recorded a 50 per cent fall in speed-related fatal crashes, from 14 in 2010 to seven in 2011. The mobile safety camera pilot was introduced because of the high death toll in North Yorkshire due to excessive or inappropriate speeds, particularly the number of motorcyclists who lost their lives. During the pilot, fatal and serious injury crashes have fallen by 46 per cent at identified sites.

Fatal and serious injury collisions where speed is a contributory factor have been reduced by 59 per cent.

Following the pilot scheme North Yorkshire Police is understood to be now working towards making mobile safety cameras a permanent feature of their roads policing strategy.

The force is in the process of recruiting a safety camera manager and a safety camera officer.

Inspector Brown said: “We have seen some extreme speeding offences brought to court during the pilot scheme, supported by indisputable evidence captured by the high-tech equipment on the safety camera van. These motorists have been given heavy fines, lost their licences and, in some cases, their livelihoods. These are the lucky ones, they returned home to their families. Some, tragically and needlessly, do not.”

From 2008 to 2010, 36 people died in the county as a result of a collision where speed was a contributory factor. This equates to 24 per cent of all road deaths in York and North Yorkshire over the three years.

During the same period, 303 people sustained serious injuries and 1,133 suffered slight injury as a result of a collision where speed was a contributory factor.

North Yorkshire and Durham are the only counties in England and Wales not to have fixed safety cameras.

Until last year North Yorkshire had been the only area in the country which had not adopted the use of either mobile or fixed-site cameras.

The county’s vast road network is a big draw for bikers from across the country.

Inspector Brown said: “We police around 6,000 miles of roads and the flexibility of a mobile safety camera means we can use intelligence effectively and deploy the camera where it is needed most at the most appropriate time. For example, we have identified routes which are frequented by motorcyclists at specific times of the day, month and year. A mobile camera means we can effectively target these routes at the most appropriate times.”

Figures released last week revealed 16,055 speeding offences had been committed in the 12 months since the force introduced the mobile camera in July last year.