A stretch of the A19 in North Yorkshire saw more than 2,700 motorists caught by police mobile safety camera vans last year, making it the most lucrative section of road in the county.
A total of 2,734 road safety violations were recorded on the southbound stretch of the road at South Kilvington, near Thirsk, in the 2014/15 financial year, according to an annual report by North Yorkshire Police. The violations, most of which relate to speeding, were captured during 71 visits by safety camera vans.
Residents say road safety is such a big issue and want more to be done. However, improving road safety is not an easy job.Julia Mulligan
Most drivers caught speeding were offered the option of attending a speed awareness course costing £85, though repeat offenders and those driving at high speeds may have been handed a fixed penalty fine, or points on their licence.
The second most violations were recorded on the A64 Westbound at Whitwell Hill, Ryedale, where 2,539 were recorded. Other spots which featured prominently include the A66 at Gatherley Moor, the A59 at Kex Gill Farm, near Harrogate, and the A64 Eastbound at Heslington.
The running cost of North Yorkshire’s three safety camera vans in 2014/15 was £886,000. £1,049,000 was generated by the cameras in the same period, meaning a surplus of £163,000.
The force said: “The £163,000 surplus was strictly ring-fenced for other road safety initiatives. None of the funding generated by safety camera vans went into the general policing budget.
“The money generated by the safety camera vans came almost entirely from the fees drivers paid to attend one of the education courses.”
Police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan, who stands for re-election on May 5, has now announced that six new ‘agile’ safety camera vehicles will be added to its fleet, bringing the total to 12.
According to the force, the new vehicles will have Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology and “will be specifically designed and deployed predominately in rural areas to support rural communities”.
The number of people killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads each year has fallen from more than 1,600 in 1990/91 to fewer than 600 in 2014/15.
Mrs Mulligan said the county still had “one of the highest accident rates in the country”. She added: “Last year, 44 people died on our roads.
“There is proven evidence that nine of those deaths were the result of speeding. However, speed was a probable factor in many more of the deaths and serious injuries that took place.
“But, while speeding is dangerous, it can harm our communities in other ways too – with many people telling me their neighbourhoods are blighted by the noise and intrusion of speeding traffic.
“Little wonder, therefore, that residents say road safety is such a big issue and want more to be done. However, improving road safety is not an easy job.”
Mike Pannett, a former North Yorkshire Police officer who is running for election as PCC in May, said speed vans were “oblivious to drink and drugs driving, the use of mobile phones and the anti-social driver behaviour and the downright dangerous driving we all see every day”.
He said: “Government cuts have hit roads policing hard and there’s now commentary from road safety organisations and the Police Federation that draws a link between reductions in patrolling roads policing units and rises in the levels of people killed and seriously injured.
“In North Yorkshire we have far too many fatal and serious collisions, and far too many pedal cyclists killed and seriously injured. Additional speed vans is not the solution.”
North Yorkshire’s first safety camera van was introduced in July 2011, with two further vans introduced in April 2013.
The vans carried out visits at 130 sites across the county. Monitoring points included places where there had been a speed-related collision where someone had died or been badly injured, or areas where speed was a concern for local residents.
According to police analysis, motorists driving on the A61 between Thirsk and Harrogate were at more risk of collision than drivers on any other road in the county.