POLICE SHOULD SNAP TO IT
LAST week, as friends or relatives of the two cousins tragically killed on Todmorden Road, (Rochdale Observer March 14 and Free Press March 16), were laying wreaths at the crash site, a white van shot past at 45 to 50 mph. The speed limit here is 30 mph.
I have witnessed a car travelling at over 60 mph on Market Street, Whitworth; a driver three times on Longacres Drive at around 45 mph (limit 20 mph); I have had a wagon dangerously tailgating my car, flashing lights and hooting his horn because I refused to exceed the speed limit; I have been overtaken by a speeding van which passed on the wrong side of a pedestrian refuge; all in the last few weeks.
Excluding London, road traffic policing has dropped by nearly 50%. Recent government casualty figures show a 4% increase of road deaths for all road users in 2016; at 1,792, this is the highest annual toll since 2011. Figures for successful convictions for road traffic offences have declined from 611,093 to 516,658 from 2007 to 2016.
At a time of swinging austerity cuts what can police forces do? Perhaps Wales has the answer.
Last December Operation Snap was launched by the four Welsh police forces. This means that if a member of the public videos illegal behaviour on Welsh roads the police will take action. It does not matter what the offence might be, whether it is driving dangerously or carelessly, contravening solid white lines, using a mobile phone while driving or ignoring traffic lights. If video footage or images are uploaded to the single, jointly managed site, the relevant police force will investigate. Instead of having a few brightly coloured cameras, most of which don’t work, Wales now has thousands of concealed cameras supported by police forces that have undertaken to investigate clear cases of infringements.
West Midlands Police have introduced a different initiative using plain clothed cycling officers to identify and educate drivers who pass too close.
Close passes by motorists are hazardous for cyclists and extremely intimidating. This may be due to ignorance of the Highway Code and carelessness but sometimes it is done deliberately and aggressively. The result of the operation has seen a 20% reduction in casualties among vulnerable road users over the course of the year. If West Midlands adopted the Welsh reporting system they could continue their life saving initiative at an even lower cost.
If Greater Manchester and Lancashire Police introduced an Operation Snap there would be a huge reduction in lives lost and ruined. It is no secret, well tested and an obvious solution to an increasing menace on our roads, so what are our chief constables waiting for? Colin Hubbard Whitworth