Is enough being done to catch speeding drivers?
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As another appalling incident on our roads hits the headlines, we are once again reminded that speed kills. But this isn’t a new message, so why is it still falling on deaf ears?
In a case that has yet to come before the courts, two teenage runners were struck by a car near Aldershot. Stacey Burrows, 16. from Farnborough and fellow runner Lucy Pygott, 17 and from Hartley Wintney, died after being hit by a Ford Focus while on a training run on November 8 last year. Both girls were members of Aldershot, Farnham and District Athletic Club. Lucy won a 3,000m bronze medal at the European Youth Championships in July, while Stacey was the Hampshire under-17 3,000m champion. Two talented girls taken far too early.
Michael Casey, 24, an Aldershot-based serving soldier, has been charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. The facts will come out in court and it would be wrong to prejudge matters in this individual case. But this tragedy reminds me of the wider issue of road safety and other incidents on our roads where it has been proven that speed was involved, begging the question: What will it take for drivers to slow down on our roads?
The frequency with which I see motorists – of all ages – going far too fast is shocking. Speed cameras and bumps slow people down temporarily, but once we’ve figured out where they are we brake into them and speed up out of them. Mobile units are thin on the ground as police don’t have the resources.
But with regard to allegations of dangerous driving, Hampshire Constabulary has taken what I am going to describe as an ‘interesting’ stance, stating on their website: “A decision has been taken by the Force that the majority of driving complaints will not be formally investigated unless the manner of driving meets the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) threshold for dangerous driving.”
So, you can mess about all you like on our roads, just don’t get caught doing it too often, or do anything else illegal like letting your insurance lapse. Is that the message here? It looks that way to me.
A blog by a user calling him/herself ‘bornslippy’ appears to agree. One post reads: “I have heard nothing from the police about my reports of seemingly dangerous driving… unless a driver has clearly been driving dangerously there is little point in reporting merely ‘bad’ driving such as driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration. There seems to be a requirement for three reports in three months of ‘bad’ driving for any action to be taken, which seems unlikely to happen.”
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But another Hampshire web user under the name medic_ollie writes: “Speaking to a family friend who is an inspector in another force, they would like to do more and investigate near-misses but they do not have the funding or the manpower.”
He adds that he reported an incident to Hampshire Police and they were ‘very helpful and did launch an investigation’, and says it can be useful reporting them ‘as some police forces issue a Section 59 where if that car is picked up on a police car’s number plate reader it will flag it up. It’s not an ideal situation but in my three years of cycling I would say drivers have, on the whole, become a lot better.’
I disagree on that last point. As far as I can see, roads are getting more dangerous and police are doing less and less about drivers speeding, whether that be due to a lack of manpower or budget.
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