Cardiff speeders escape prosecution

 Speed camera with traffic passing it

Speed camera on North Road, Cardiff. Photo: Chris Brown, Cardiff Friends of the Earth.

A Freedom of Information request by the South Wales Echo to South Wales Police revealed that in 2009, the most recent year available, 5,777 drivers were caught speeding by the Cardiff’s 21 fixed speed cameras.

A total of 1,394 drivers were caught speeding on North Road in Cardiff during the 12-month period,the highest of any speed camera in South Wales.

Of these, almost 900 fixed penalty notices were handed out to motorists who broke the 30mph speed limit on the road.

But more than a third of speeding drivers captured by the northbound camera had the penalty notice cancelled by officials.

The fixed speed camera which caught the second highest number of speeders was also in Cardiff, on the A48 Eastern Avenue. Here 1,248 speeding offences were committed by drivers, but 526 were cancelled, almost a third of the total.

The data reveiled that in some locations in Cardiff over 40 per cent of the penalty notices were cancelled. These were:

  • Northern Avenue, Whitchurch (319 offences)
  • Wellington Street, junction with Wyndham Place (156 offences)
  • Cowbridge Road West Westbound (819 offences)
  • North Road, Blackweir (126 offences) and
  • Wellington Street, junction with Wells Street (73 offences).

Cardiff Friends of the Earth's analysis found that in Cardiff 36 per cent of the 5,777 offences were canceled. This was three per cent above the average for the South Wales Police region.

The data also revealed that speed cameras lowered the average speed of drivers and in reduced the number of traffic collisions. Before the camera was installed on Cardiff’s North Road the average speed was 33mph whereas in the months after it dropped to 25mph. This reduced the number of accidents by 29 per cent.

Cardiff Friends of the Earth campaigner, Chris Brown, said "While it is reasonable that some tickets are cancelled, for example for emergency vehicles responding to a call, it is difficult to understand the high percentage of cancellations at many locations in the city."

The figures also revealed only 46 per cent of speeding motorists in the city ended up paying fines, some chose not to pay the £60 fine and opted to fight the charge in court. Eleven per cent went on speed awareness courses, and seven per cent of offenders were brought before the magistrates.

There an increase in collisions at just 19 of the region’s 89 speed cameras after the cameras were installed.

Chris Brown continued "The figures show the importance of speed cameras in cutting speeds and reducing accidents in the city, however we believe that the low odds of getting fined for speeding may be seen as a green light by a minority of irresponsible drivers."

"We will be interested to see whether the new policy of using speed awareness courses results in a reduction in speeding offences."