Speed cameras are trapping up to 1,000 drivers a week in Sussex, it was revealed today.

Each offender faces a £60 fine, meaning they collectively pay out up to £60,000 a week.

Sussex Police said all the money from fines was ploughed back into speed cameras to make roads safer.

Cameras, they said, were saving lives and reducing accidents.

Emma Rogers, communications manager for the Sussex Safety Camera Partnership (SSCP), said even police and safety experts were surprised by the numbers of drivers being caught.

"It is surprising because all the cameras are bright yellow, clearly visible and well signed. Roads are also signed to indicate the speed limit and always where the speed limit changes.

"So to all those caught speeding, it is either deliberate or down to a lack of concentration and awareness."

There are 42 cameras at fixed sites around the county and more are planned for crash hot spots.

All cameras flash at speeders but only a percentage carry film.

Police rotate which ones are operational but they would not say how many were fully functional at any one time.

Ms Rogers said each could detect a maximum 400 offences and some ran out of film more quickly than others.

She said: "At a site like Marine Parade in Brighton, with its high volume of traffic, the film will fill up in just a few days.

"The success of a camera is gauged by the reduction of accidents and speed and not the number of offenders.

"For instance, the new camera at Coldean Lane, Brighton, has already indicated a reduction in the average speed by 15mph, although it is too early to judge the effect on accidents."

Ms Rogers said before the Coldean Lane camera was installed in February this year, 79 per cent of drivers travelled above the speed limit. Since installation only three per cent drove too fast.

She said: "At a more established site, such as the Kingsway in Hove, the accident rate reduced from 24 accidents in the three years before the installation of the camera in 1996 to 15 during the period 1999 to 2001 inclusive.

"This supports the presence of the speed camera but also the need to retain it, with 36 per cent of drivers still willing to exceed the speed limit near the camera site."

In addition to fixed camera sites, police have six mobile cameras in use every day at locations published on their web site www.sussexsafetycameras.gov.uk

Ms Rogers said during August in Brighton and Hove, 188 offences were detected by the mobile units.

She said: "Speed limits are there for a reason, usually because of hazards for motorists and other road users such as schools, parks, shops, pedestrians and junctions.

Ms Rogers said the number of crashes in Sussex in the last two-and-a-half years had fallen significantly.

In 2001 there were 100 fatalities, 995 serious injuries and 6,646 slight injuries. Last year there were 89 fatalities, 993 serious injuries and 6,308 slight injuries. From January to June this year there were 30 fatalities, 379 serious injuries and 2,449 slight injuries.

The SSCP, which comprises East and West Sussex county councils, Brighton and Hove City Council, highways authorities, Sussex Police and magistrates courts, was launched last October to improve road safety and to reduce casualties.

Thursday September 25, 2003