You may have read the previous piece on Street Watch in Maulden village. But you may not be aware of the other people wearing fluorescent jackets that you may see as you drive past.
For several years Maulden has had an effective Speed Watch group in the village. They are a small group of about 5 people. You may see them at the roadside in their jackets with a small portable speed measuring system provided by the police. Their job is to identify the speed of passing traffic, to make a note of it, and to pass that information on to our local policing team. It is in the job of the local policing team to determine what action is most likely to be effective in the circumstances.
The incidence of vehicles travelling at speeds over the limit in Maulden is higher than you might expect: in a short period of a few hours spread through August 2013 some 29 people were cautioned and 3 reported for prosecution in the village. [Bedfordshire Police Report online] and in the spring of 2013 over 110 speeding vehicles in just 6 hours of monitoring. Everyone represents a potential fatality.
At this point I should declare a personal interest, because a couple of years ago I received a letter in the post from the police stating that I had been driving marginally above the local speed limit somewhere in the village. As with most people, my first reaction was of indignation and surprise. Very quickly, on reflection, I realised that I needed to amend the way I drive, not only in Maulden village, but everywhere. The statistics clearly show that even driving marginally above the speed limit has a dramatic effect on the outcome of accidents, and on the chance of having an accident, especially where a pedestrian is concerned.
My personal reaction was to take the Institute Of Advanced Motorists training course, a year-long process for me, and to become a much more cautious and safer driver (and actually to arrive earlier, and having used less fuel).
I am not the only person who will have received such a letter, and I hope that everybody has reacted in a similar way: by driving safer and by being more aware of their speed.
Why do we need reminding of our speed?
It is a well-established fact that modern cars make it very hard to estimate the speed at which we are driving. They are very quiet, very comfortable, very well insulated, and very smooth. When you add the sheltering effect of our vehicles to the pace of modern life, and the likelihood that we are always in a hurry, it is easy to imagine how our speed may creep up when driving on the long straight roads through the village. Sadly, it is equally easy to see the consequences of striking a child or elderly person who may not be aware of the presence of a modern quiet car.
Speed kills. And speed over 30mph is vastly more likely to kill, especially the young and the elderly. [Statistical data here]
And this is why the police sponsored the programme of education and training that has given rise to speed watch. Many other villages have adopted the speed watch program and the results are generally a lowering of speed, and fewer accidents.
What will happen if your speed is noted as above the posted limit?
It should be stressed that speed watch is an educational programme. For those travelling marginally above the speed limit. The likelihood is that they will receive a letter explaining to them what happened, why it is a problem, and what will happen if a 2nd letter has to be sent. For those who receive multiple letters, or who are travelling substantially above the speed limit, they will receive a personal visit from a friendly local police officer who will carefully explain to them the consequences and likely outcomes of their driving behaviour. Methods of changing your personal behaviour will be offered.
How Speed Watch operates
Our local speed watch group know the village well and know which areas can cause problems. They are quite capable of monitoring the 20 mile an hour limit around the school, which is there for a very specific purpose: to protect the youngest and most vulnerable members of our community. They are also able to target stretches of road where drivers may build up speed and carry it into more dangerous areas.
When they are not actively monitoring traffic in the village, they also work with Central Bedfordshire Council on the most effective sighting of signage, and they will, in the near future, be involved in the sighting of reactive speed sensitive signage at various points around the village, which will provide 24 hour advice to passing motorists.
Maulden is very fortunate in having a well-trained, pragmatic, and reasonable group of individuals who are prepared to give their time to monitor one of the most dangerous features of village life and ensure that all of us, young, old, or on the way home from a late-night, are safe near and when crossing our roads.
What do the Police Say?
“Community Speed Watch is an initiative whereby members of the community volunteer to address speeding issues identified within the local community. Following concerns from local residents about speeding in the village we are looking for volunteers to become a part of Community Speedwatch. Speed is a contributory factor in some road collisions and experience from other Police areas show that Community Speed Watch activity can reduce traffic speed.
Community Speed Watch groups monitor traffic speeds using Speed Indication Devices at locations that have been checked and approved by the Local Policing Team.
The group wear high visibility jackets and are clearly visible to the speeding motorist as they monitor the speed of traffic at specific locations. Standard procedures will then be used to identify the registered keeper and cross reference it against previous records. For the speeding motorist who passes through the device travelling at 35 mph and above, for the first offence a warning letter will be sent, for a second offence a final warning letter will be sent. Persistent offenders will be targeted for police enforcement. Offenders who have been recorded at travelling far in excess of the speed limit have been visited by either me or a member of the Local Policing Team.
Community Speed watch is designed to be part of awareness and education programme around speeding vehicles and no enforcement action is taken by the volunteers.
Community speed watch activity is complementary to, and not a replacement of conventional Police speed enforcement that continues to take place in the village.
There will be some training provided on equipment and Health and Safety etc which will take place at a convenient time at police headquarters. Please feel free to contact me on the details below if you would like more information about Community Speedwatch or wish to join this new group.
PCSO 4827 JULIET WRIGHT
LOCAL POLICING TEAM AMPTHILL & FLITWICK “
How can you help?
Drive at or below the posted speed limits, taking due care in respect of the capabilities of the driver, the vehicle in its current condition, the road surface and the weather.
Street watch is just one of the voluntary groups that makes life in Maulden safer, if you wish to know any more about it, or wish to volunteer, contact our local policing team at their email address, or this website via the contact us page.