Guest blog: Speedwatch volunteers are vital in a rural county
Guest blog written by Deputy PCC Jerry Herbert
We are fortunate to live in a very safe County in every respect, including road safety. Despite the mix of major arterial routes and minor roads across our area the number of road traffic accidents is relatively low for the number of miles driven, and fairly stable. In part this is due to the good work that Wiltshire Police continues to do with partners, particularly the two local authorities and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. This approach to improving road safety can be understood to comprise 3 elements: Education, Engineering and Enforcement.
One causative factor of road traffic collisions can be excess speed. The perception of speeding, especially through areas where people live, can also give cause for concern to our communities. An important part of keeping our roads safe is therefore an understanding by drivers of the dangers of excess speed, and the necessity to moderate their behaviour to the road conditions.
Across the Force Area we have over 100 active Community Speedwatch schemes, with over 1150 active members. Schemes can be established at the request of local communities when measuring equipment confirms that a significant proportion of road users are exceeding the posted speed limit. Volunteers are trained and equipped by Wiltshire Police to measure speed and report it. Reports are collated by a specialist team and appropriate and proportionate action is taken against offenders.
In the past year over 26,000 motorists were issued with postal warnings for exceeding the posted speed limit. Around 300 of the serious cases received a visit from a Police Officer to warn them of their future behaviour. In addition, Community Speedwatch volunteers can be joined by officers with the power to either advise motorists of their behaviour, or, if warranted, to issue a fixed penalty notice or notice of prosecution.
Our volunteers are a hugely valuable resource. They work within their local communities to provide a significant deterrent effect, reminding drivers of the need to keep our road network safe. The reports they provide also offer valuable intelligence on driver behaviour, allowing targeting of the most serious routes and times for stronger enforcement action. All of this helps, with our partners, to keep Wiltshire's roads and communities safe.