Police catch more motorists speeding in built-up zones

THE number of motorists caught speeding in built-up areas has risen by nearly nine per cent, new figures revealed today, with drink-driving also on the increase.

A total of 11,587 drivers were caught speeding in residential areas in the force area between last April and March – 32 on average each day.

Police chiefs today said it was “very disappointing” to see the figures climbing as they get ready to launch a new crackdown on rural speeding on Tuesday. Motoring groups said the rise in speeding was in contrast to the overall trend of falling rates in Scotland in recent years.

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The figures also showed a 21 per cent fall in fines for using a mobile phone behind the wheel, and a 25 per cent decline in offences for failing to wear seatbelts.

Police said these drops were “encouraging” but added that thousands continue to flout the law and put other road users at risk.

Meanwhile, drink-driving charges rose slightly against the previous year, going up from 791 to 804 cases.

Chief Superintendent Derek Robertson, who is in charge of the force’s road policing unit, said: “We know the impact speeding has on control of vehicles and the severity of accidents. It’s very disappointing to see a rise in the number of drivers caught speeding in built-up areas when much has been done to raise awareness of the dangers.

“It would be lovely if we had no accidents on our roads but unfortunately that’s not the case, and speeding is a major cause. In built-up areas we have children crossing the street, vehicles parked in the road and all kinds of other difficulties which require concentration and control of your vehicle. Sadly, the message is not getting through to some.

“This new campaign will focus on rural roads as we move into summer and more people take advantage of the weather to travel into the countryside. They are often not used to driving there and wrongly feel that the quieter roads mean they can increase their speed.”

Drivers are fined £60 and receive three penalty points if they are caught using a phone while on the roads.

Drivers who are caught without a seatbelt face a fine of £30, as do any passengers failing to belt up. For children under 14 not wearing a belt, the driver is fined.

Chief Supt Robertson said: “The fall in seatbelt offences is encouraging but we’re not getting complacent. There are still far too many people putting themselves at risk of serious injury for failing to carry out an action which takes a second. I don’t know if it’s a fashion statement or something else but if you end up going through a windscreen you become another statistic.

“The decrease in mobile phone offences is welcome, but again the message isn’t getting through to all. It’s so dangerous to use a phone behind the wheel as it causes a massive distraction. It might be difficult for some in this day and age, but no call is urgent enough to put yourself and others at risk.”

The blitz against speeders will focus on country roads, where 70 per cent of Scotland’s 189 fatal accidents in 2010 took place. Marked and unmarked police vehicles are set to carry out speed checks at identified hotspots between Tuesday and Thursday.

Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “It’s very difficult to compare year on year as there are often differing levels of enforcement activity, but it’s worrying that speeding in built-up areas in the Lothians has increased. The general trend across Scotland, and particularly in urban areas, has been for falling numbers.”