More safety camera vans head out on North Yorkshire's roads as police seek to cut fatalities
Police are set to deploy six new safety camera vans in North Yorkshire in a bid to further reduce collisions, serious injuries and deaths on the county's roads.
These smaller vans are more suited for hard-to-reach locations in the 5,000 miles of road which criss-cross the countryside, including the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
With state-of-the art camera equipment, the vans can not only detect speeding drivers but can also identify anti-social driving such as seat belt offences and drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel.
The vans are also equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology (ANPR), which assists with the detection of cross border crime, protecting those communities more vulnerable due to their location, by deterring and disrupting travelling criminals.
North Yorkshire's police and crime commissioner, Julia Mulligan, said: "“The most important thing to me is that they can be much more responsive to local communities and can easily be deployed to where there are 30mph and 40mph limits.
“I get lots of correspondence from people, particularly in rural areas, complaining that speeding and anti-social behaviour on the roads is a real problem within their local area and I think these vans are a really good response to that.
Ms Mulligan recently joined the force's Chief Constable to see one of the new vehicles in action in the village of Hampsthwaite near Harrogate.
“They don’t just deal with speeding issues, for example, if you’re on your mobile phone they can film that and you can be prosecuted," she said.
"They also have ANPR cameras that scan number plates which can detect if there are criminals travelling through communities. They have a range of different uses and are much more flexible than the bigger vans."
Tom Watson, Safety Camera Officer, said: “It’s a total change from using the big vans, these smaller vehicles will fit into smaller sites making it easier to monitor rural roads.
“Because we have to stand outside of the vans to use the equipment, it encourages more people to come and talk to us and ask why we are there. We can explain to them the direct benefit the cameras have to their safety, when they are behind the wheel of their car.”
North Yorkshire does not use any fixed cameras, instead preferring the flexibility of its mobile vans.
These new additions bring the total number of safety vans in the county to 12.
Over the past three years, Newcastle University has conducted studies into North Yorkshire’s statistics for people killed or seriously injured across 22 local sites and evaluated the effect of the safety camera vans on the level of road safety.
The study found that there had been a reduction of eight casualties at those 22 sites due to the deployment of the vans.
Chief Constable Dave Jones said: "The mobility of the vans is the key to achieving our aim of changing driver attitudes for the long term.
"Once a speed camera is fixed, motorists get wise to its whereabouts and only change their behaviour 15 seconds before and 10 seconds after driving past one.
"Our aim with the vans is to educate drivers about the dangers speeding and distracted driving pose and encourage them to change their behaviour, making the roads safer for all.
“With the study conducted by Newcastle University finding a reduction of eight casualties as a direct result of the current vehicles, the extension of the fleet is a positive step towards preventing tragedies on our roads and saving more lives. ”
Ms Mulligan added: “This is genuinely about keeping people safe. It’s a really good way of improving people’s safety, responding to the needs of local communities and saving people’s lives.”