Your Interview: Phil Henty, Partnership manager for the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (From The Argus)
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Your Interview: Phil Henty, Partnership manager for the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership
4:00pm Saturday 27th July 2013 in News
EDDY SEARS, email: Perhaps Phil can explain why there are so many cases where motorists can be put in danger by speed limits in rural areas. For example you leave a small village with a 40mph limit where the signs say you can increase speed to the national speed limit and within yards encounter a sign that says Slow Bend 30mph.
This may be caused by different councils setting the limits but it needs changing.
PHIL HENTY (PH): Local highway authorities (West and East Sussex County Councils and Brighton and Hove City Council) set the speed limits in their areas, which they do under guidance from the Department for Transport. The speed limit is the maximum drivers are allowed to drive at – they should not be seen as a target speed. Along any road there will be bends, junctions and other hazards where drivers need to reduce their speed as appropriate. Signs on bends and around other hazards are advisory, helping drivers to recognise the severity of the hazard and prepare themselves appropriately.
MYTHOMANIA, online: Accident data shows that in the first nine months after the devices were scrapped in Swindon, there were 315 road casualties in the area as a whole, compared with 327 in the same period the previous year.
In total there were two fatalities – compared with four in the same period previously – and 44 serious injuries, down from 48.
The figures were seized on by campaigners who claim speed cameras do little to combat problem driving and are primarily a money-raising mechanism for local councils and the treasury.
Swindon became the first town in Britain to switch its cameras off, when they were deactivated on July 31 last year.
However, large parts of the country are now expected to follow its example after the Government announced a £38 million cut in the Road Safety Grant, which funds the devices, from £95 million to £57 million. Figures show they are not working in Sussex, so do you want to see more of them or would you welcome a trial switch off?
(PH): I’m afraid that you’re mistaken – the Road Safety Grant has not existed since the Coalition Government came to power in 2010 and therefore can’t be cut. Central Government no longer funds camera-based speed enforcement activity in Sussex.
The operation of safety cameras in Sussex is funded in large part through the operation of the Speed Awareness Course, which is offered to those people who have been detected exceeding the speed limit by a small margin.
In regards to the data, I don’t know which “figures” you are referring to. A recent independent report from the RAC Foundation and Professor Richard Allsop demonstrates that safety cameras have helped to improve road safety in Sussex, even when effects such as ‘regression to mean’ are removed. You can read the report here http://www.racfoundation.org/research/ safety/speed-camera-data-report.
Additionally, if you look at the data contained on our website, you can see that collisions and casualties around safety camera sites have reduced in almost every case since the installation of those cameras.
We would not welcome a ‘trial switch off’ on any part of our safety camera network as cameras are repeatedly shown to benefit road safety. All of the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership’s partners are of the same opinion.
CHARISMATIC ANDREW, online: The temporary 40mph speed limit at Handcross is totally inappropriate for this stretch of road. Can you provide evidence of why a higher limit of say 50mph would not be effective at securing the safety of workers on this stretch of road?
At the moment people are being caught out through this section (particularly at night when the roadworks are mostly suspended) even though they are driving at an appropriate safe speed for the road conditions, but above your inappropriate speed limit.
(PH): Many factors are taken into account when considering the appropriate temporary speed limit at roadworks. There are national guidelines which help ensure that regardless of where you are travelling in the UK, the roadwork layout, speed limit and other restrictions are consistent where the conditions are the same. In order to maintain two running lanes in each direction on the A23, the lane widths have been reduced considerably and a 40mph limit is appropriate in these circumstances. The reduced limit is for the protection of the travelling public as well as the workforce. More than 60,000 vehicles a day drive through the roadworks and more than 99% do so within the limit.
BOGS, online: Why do you allow your civilian camera operators to commit moving traffic offences, in order to trap motorists on camera – i.e. parking on the pavement, reversing on a dual carriageway, parking in clearway, parking in an area designated for police patrol vehicles only, stopping on a hatched area, crossing unbroken white lines, parking on double yellow lines?
(PH): The camera operators are Police Support Staff driving police vehicles on operational duties and as such are permitted to park on double yellow lines although they rarely do so (particularly if it is likely to cause obstruction or impair visibility). Parking on the footway is not a moving traffic offence, in fact it’s not an offence at all unless there are yellow lines or it is causing actual obstruction.
Stopping on a hatched area is permitted if it is safe to do so. I can think of one site we have where the driver reverses on the hard shoulder on a dual carriageway to park safely behind the crash barrier but can see no reason nor would I expect them to reverse on the carriageway itself unless in an emergency.
A clearway relates to the running lanes and not any layby or verge, and crossing unbroken white lines is permitted when you are turning right. If anybody has any concerns regarding the driving of one of the team I want to hear about it but in the eight years I have been with the Partnership I have not had one complaint that stood up to investigation.
UNCLE_MEAT, online: As you may be aware Barnet council’s attempted controlled parking zone (CPZ) price increase has been deemed illegal by the High Court.
As they were attempting to raise prices to be approximately similar to Brighton and Hove’s current prices, can you justify what is effectively another form of taxation on the motorist? Why is the charge so far in excess of the cost of administration? What happens to the (apparently illegally obtained) surplus revenue?
(PH): Parking enforcement is the domain of the district and borough councils across Sussex. It is not something that the Safer Roads Partnership gets involved with.
MYTHOMANIA, online: All councils were ordered to produce a detailed list of all the prosecutions and tickets issued at every site together with accidents. Why are you delaying in doing this?
(PH): This information has been published on our website for more than two years: http://www.sussexsaferroads.gov.uk/ca mera-map.html Simply click on the camera that you’re interested in and the information will appear underneath the map.
We publish offence data for fixed safety camera sites only, in accordance with Department for Transport guidelines, and the full range of speed/collision/injury information for all of our camera sites (fixed, mobile, red light and average speed).
NOCANDO, online: Would you care to explain Sussex Safer Roads Partnership’s financial relationship with the public limited company known as the Association of Chief Police Officers? There’s a lot of money changing hands, I’d hate to assume that anyone was personally profiting from your activities.
(PH): We have no financial relationship with the Association of Chief Police Officers as a Partnership. We do pay a small subscription of £15k to the nonprofit- making body, Road Safety Support Ltd, who supply expert witness evidence and legal opinion when necessary to support court proceedings. A number of people believe so called ‘loop hole lawyers’ will be able to successfully challenge the proceedings or the equipment. It is your right to go to court if you believe you have been wrongly accused but please get sound advice before deciding on this route as all too often the accused ends up paying a lot more in the long run.
ROLIVAN, online: Is it possible to have a campaign advertising the cost of installing indicators in vehicles – so why not use them and why isn’t more done by the police.
(PH): Thank-you for your suggestion – we’re looking at the different campaigns that we will run in the future at the moment and certainly the lack of signalling from all road users is on the list.
KATE ROBERTS, email: The Argus ran a story this week saying the number of people killed on Brighton and Hove’s streets has exceeded the authority’s own forecast. Is the number of people killed on the city’s roads a concern to you?
(PH): Of course – we are always concerned when someone loses their life in what could have been an avoidable situation. We are continuing to work closely with our colleagues in Brighton and Hove to share information and best practice, as well as maximise cost effectiveness, to help the city’s roads become safer for all users.
ANONYMOUS, email: Do speed cameras actually slow down traffic? Or do they just cause people to brake suddenly to avoid getting a ticket to the profit of the authority?
(PH): I am often asked if I think cameras do work in reducing casualties or are they just revenue raisers. I have no doubt that cameras have prevented crashes by adjusting driver behaviour.
Regarding the money, if you break the law you are likely to receive a fine. That is true for all sorts of offences not just cameras. There have been many changes since 1998 and the most recent and in my view perhaps the best is offering the chance of education rather than just a fine and points. Most people probably know someone who has done a speed awareness course. When I overhear people talking about them the majority say how surprised they were that they actual learnt something.
Drive within the speed limit and at a speed suitable for the conditions and cameras will not be a problem to you.
However, if you do get detected by a camera and are offered a speed awareness course I recommend you try it.
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