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Community Speed Watch: the Facts

Community Speed Watch: the Facts

With increasing pressures on public services, many groups of people are taking matters into their own hands. Community speed watch groups are one such example. While these groups undoubtedly provide an invaluable service to their community, it is important that they – and you – know your boundaries. Here we answer some of your questions.

What is Community Speed Watch?

The Community Speed Watch scheme is a nationwide initiative whereby volunteers monitor car speed using a handheld device.

What happens if a driver exceeds the limit in a Speed Watch area?

If a driver drives over a predetermined speed – usually 10% above the speed limit – the details of the vehicle will be recorded. These details are then passed to the local police. Because the main purpose of the scheme is to educate road users, speed tickets are not issued as the result of a single speeding offence. Speed Watch volunteers use unregulated and often outdated equipment, so it is not possible for a prosecution to occur based on their recordings.

Are Speed Watch operatives bound by rules?

Like any civilians, Speed Watch volunteers must act in a responsible way. In general no more than 2-4 people can be on “patrol” at a single time. They can only operate in a spot approved by the police in daylight hours, and they must set up in a position that is clearly visible to oncoming traffic, wearing high visibility jackets. If you encounter groups who do not abide by these rules, you can get further information on their website.

What CAN Speed Watch records do?

Different areas treat information from Speed Watch differently but in general, if a registration has appeared in the spreadsheet from volunteers two or three times, the registered vehicle owner will receive a letter from the police reminding them of the speed limits. For serial offenders (three or more letters), further investigation may be undertaken.

What if a car is caught driving very fast?

In the case of excessive speed, a more strongly worded letter will usually be sent to the registered owner.

Understanding the law

Speed limits are designed to keep all road users safe and as such it is important that drivers do their best to understand the law and drive within the limit. The “10%” rule that many drivers were taught in previous years is no longer applicable; although a little unfair, it is entirely possible for a person to be fined for driving 42mph in a 40 zone. Although the category of the fine is likely to be low, repeat offences could lead to loss of licence.

If in doubt, err on the side of caution; most residential areas have a 30mph restriction, but driving at 20mph is a safer option if you are unsure.

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