So are vehicle speeds getting higher on York’s streets?

Much reduced traffic volumes have resulted in some claims that vehicle speeds have increased. Yesterday figures emerged which suggested that a small number of drivers on major roads like the A64 were exceeding the prevailing speed limit. Camera vans had caught 137 speeders during a 2 week period.

More anecdotal evidence suggests that quieter sub-urban and rural roads have encouraged more considerate driving behaviours.

The latest speed check results do suggest that most drivers – before the lockdown – were respecting the prevailing speed limit.

Checks are undertaken by the Fire service which uses equipment which records the speeds 24/7 on particular section of road. The deployment of he equipment is prompted by complaints. Details can be found on this web site (click)

Priority is given to locations with a high accident record. A report is published giving both the mean recorded speed and the speed the limit that 85% of drivers observe.

A decision is then made as to whether any further action is required. This might take the form of enforcement, engineering works or the use of community speed watch equipment.

47 Roads in York have been checked over the last year.

The most striking result is that there  is a high level of compliance with the speed limit on most roads in and around the City.

There are exceptions with the 20 mph limit in Heslington Lane in Fulford seeing (85%ile) speeds of between 25 and 28 mph. A similar picture on New Lane in Holgate where speeds of between 24 and 28 mph were recorded in the 20 mph zone. Sandy Lane in Stockton on Forest saw speeds of 38/39 mph within the 30 mph limit.

No details of any checks made since the lockdown restrictions were imposed, have been published.

The next roads due to be checked are

  • Corban Lane, Wigginton;
  • Moorlands Road, Skelton;
  • Manor Lane, York;
  • Ryecroft Avenue, Woodthorpe;
  • Station Road, Haxby;
  • A1036 Sim Balk Lane;
  • The Village, Haxby and
  • the A166 near Murton Lane.

Camera vans catch 135 speeders near York

North Yorkshire Police safety (speed) vans caught 135 motorists speeding on roads near York in April.

The majority of the offenders were detected on the A64.

Most of the offenders have been referred for speed awareness courses although 8 face a court appearance for more serious violations

The figures for the period between 8th – 23rd April are detailed on the police web site (click)

In addition to speeding offences, 6 drivers were found not to be wearing seat belts.

The figures also reveal that the vans have not been used to check vehicle speeds in the urban area.

This may prove to be a controversial use of resources as “reassurance checks” in residential areas have been promised by Chief Constables in the past.

Safety camera van results 8th -22nd April 2020

Speed cameras still focus on York southern by pass

The latest results from the county’s speed safety camera vans reveal that the proportion of drivers exceeding speed limits is stable.
Safety camera van

In York, the vans have concentrated their activities on the A64 southern by pass, where it is not unusual for several dozen speeders to be identified

On one day in February – the latest month for which stats are available – 29 speeders were caught on the A64 westbound near Fulford

North York’s Police are not publishing results as quickly as they have in the past

A separate programme of speed checks, which measures the average speed of vehicles on problem roads, hasn’t been updated this year. These checks involve the use of static equipment. They do not identify individual vehicles.

Roads in the York area waiting for checks – and subsequent remedial action – include:

  • Hawthorn Terrace
  • Hamilton Drive (20 mph)
  • York Road, Dunnington
  • Ox Carr Lane, Strensall
  • Bracken Road
  • Salisbury Terrace
  • Ullswater
  • Lords Moor Lane, Strensall
  • Church Lane, Bishopthorpe
  • Alcuin Avenue
  • Bad Bargain Lane
  • Osbaldwick Lane
  • Temple Avenue
  • Fourth Avenue
  • Towthorpe Road
  • Scarcroft Road

Most of these roads don’t have any recorded injury accidents. None are routinely checked by the enforcement camera vans.

And that remains the problem with the vehicle speed limit enforcement. The expensive camera vans may be influencing average speeds, but the police make no attempt to demonstrate this.

They don’t even publish comparative stats showing the trend in the percentage of speeders at regularly monitored sites.

Within the next few years it is likely that all new vehicles will be fitted with technology which will not only confirm the prevailing speed limit on a dashboard display, but also offer the opportunity for remote enfacement.

That may be a challenge for civil liberties but it could finally rein in the 100 mph plus drivers whose behaviour often irritates other motorists.

Speed/Safety camera results
Vehicle average speeds on York roads

Wetherby Road traffic speed petition handed to Council

Cllr Andrew Waller has today handed a petition to the City of York Council asking them to address speeding concerns on Wetherby Road.

The move comes only a few days before work at the nearby roundabout junction with the A1237 is due to reach its final stages. Residents are concerned that the easier access to and from the roundabout will result in higher speeds in the built-up area.

About twelve months ago a flashing speed warning sign was removed form the road. The petition calls for it to be reinstated and the Police mobile camera van to pay occasional visits to the street.

When the flashing sign was working around 39% of passing vehicles trigger it, suggesting that there was already a speeding issue on the road.

Some residents have suggested that any new sign should display the actual speed of the passing vehicle. This type of sign has proved to be effective in neighbouring counties in reinforcing the speeding message to motorist.

The petition will now be considered by the Council prior to a report and recommendations for action being published.

Vehicle speeds in York – Comprehensive stats released by police

The North Yorkshire Police have published updated statistics which reveal the speed of vehicles using roads in York. The figures have been derived from automatic equipment which has been deployed over the last 4 years. Usually the sites for the equipment have been selected following complaints raised by members of the public.

The stats are separate from those collected by the speed camera vans which are sometimes deployed in the area. The request for the data was partly prompted by a concern that the speed vans weren’t concentrating their time on roads with poor accident records.

250 roads have been checked in the York area during the last 4 years.

Information covering the results for the whole of North Yorkshire can be downloaded by clicking this link

The information for the monitoring equipment was routinely reported to a York Council meeting until 2015.  The process was centralised in North Yorkshire thereafter and largely fell out of the public gaze.

The published information shows the mean speed and the 85%tile speed recorded on each road. The latter figure is the speed that 85% of vehicles drive within. It is most commonly used by professionals to decide whether a road has a speeding problem. (Vehicles exceeding that limit could include emergency vehicles)

The stats also record the number of accidents – where speed is an issue – recorded on each road.

There are several conclusions which can be drawn from the data:

  1. A 30-mph speed limit is observed by most drivers using roads in the urban area
  2. 20 mph speed limits are not being observed although on those roads there have been no speed related accidents while mean speeds generally remain below 30 mph. The only monitored road with an 85% speed of less than a 20 mph limit was St Johns Walk
  3. The only roads where there have been speed related accidents, and where drivers were routinely exceeding the speed limit, were North Lane (Huntington), Jockey Lane (Huntington), Heworth Green, Intake Lane (Acaster Malbis) Osbaldwick link Road, York Road (Naburn) and Huntington Road (nr Cats Protection office). Accident prevention works have subsequently taken place at some of the these sites.
  4. Of the roads with speed issues in the York area, during the early autumn, the speed camera vans visited Millfield Lane (Poppleton), Strensall Road (Huntington), the Monks Cross link road,  Temple Lane (Copmanthorpe) and Tadcaster Road in Dringhouses. However, the vans  spent most of their time on the A64 and A59.

Overall the figures suggest that excessive speeding is not a problem on most monitored roads in the City.

Speed related accidents are also relatively low. In the City, since the beginning of 2017, there have been 5 serious injuries caused by speeding vehicles plus a further 13 accidents which were classified as “slight”.

The York Council would be wise to reintroduce a regular public monitor of the statistics and the action taken to reduce the possibility of accidents in the future.

They could usefully begin by reinstating the missing speed warning signs (VAS) on streets like Wetherby Road.

Projects reported “on target” to meet promised completion dates

The Wetherby Road roundabout improvement is on course to meet its expected Spring 2019 completion date. In total the improvement will take around 40 weeks to construct.

Wetherby Road speed sign missing for over a year now

The design of the improvement has raised concerns that the speeds of vehicles leaving the junction may be higher than are currently recorded.
In turn, that has prompted some residents on Wetherby Road to ask for the missing flashing speed warning sign to be reinstated. The sign on the odd numbered side of the road has been missing for over a year now. When it was last in place, around 20% of passing vehicles caused it to operate.
A petition is being collected asking for the flashing signs to be modernised. Residents are also calling for an occasional visit by the North Yorkshire Police speed camera van. There are already signs in place warning that there are speed cameras in the area (there aren’t any fixed cameras in this location or anywhere else in York for that matter).
Nearby York Civic Trust engineers have confirmed that they will complete the restoration of the stonework on the Acomb War Memorial before 11th November.
A Service of Remembrance is scheduled to take place then with wreaths being laid at around 11:00am.
The York Council has not yet confirmed that it will complete work on trimming trees and branches in the garden of remembrance before the service. Work on providing an improved access for disabled people is also outstanding.

Bogus speed camera sign on Wetherby Road

Work on Wetherby Road roundabout proceeding on schedule

Acomb war memorial



Speed camera vans in North Yorkshire generate £1.9 million in income

The annual report into the performance of North Yorkshires 12 speed camera vans has been published.

We have been critical of the Crime Commissioner in the past for failing to demonstrate a link between the deployment of the vans and a reduction in accident rates.

The latest report makes some attempt to do so.

Overall speed related accidents, resulting in death or serious injury, have fluctuated since 2010 when the first vans were deployed.

There were fewer serious accidents recorded  in 2017 that in 2016.

However, safer roads may result from several factors. Local Council proactively carry out engineering work at accident black-spots while passive measures, such as signs which flash a vehicles speed, can also have an effect.

So, we must look closer for evidence that the cameras are reducing speeds and accident levels.

The vans mostly concentrate on locations where there is a known speeding problem. This includes sites like Whitwell on the Hill on the A64 where 4686 violations were recorded during 2017.

We looked in vain for a trend over the years in both average recorded speeds, the percentage of drivers speeding and accident levels for this section of road.

There are, however, around 20 serious accidents on the A64 each year, so some speed monitoring is clearly justified.

We remain supportive of the deployment of mobile cameras. In addition to monitoring speeds they can now spot other infringements like mobile phone use and lack of a seat belt.

The ANPR facility allows professional criminals to be identified as they move into and around the county.

But we remain sceptical about whether 12 mobile cameras can be justified. They cost taxpayers a net £263,000 last year.

Yet many local roads like Wetherby Road and Green Lane in west York didn’t receive a single visit for a van last year. Anyone monitoring the flashing signs on these roads will see that around 10% of drivers are exceeding the speed limit.

In a residential area that is a potential safety risk which requires some attention

Traffic calming plan for Thoresby Road?

Thoresby Road

The Council says it is considering how vehicle speeds on Thoresby Road can be controlled. It will discuss the issues involved at a meeting taking place on 13th September.

Details of the proposals are not yet available.

However, the street – which contains around 200 homes – is not a through route, so much of the problem arises from the use of vehicles by residents and their visitors.

In the past, physical works have not been consider practical because of the narrow width of the carriageway and the fact that on street parking has created a “chicane” effect which has slowed the speed of some vehicles.

There are plans to provide an additional off street parking layby at the low numbered end of the street.

Grange Lane

Separately the Council has decided to back a plan to designate the rural part of Grange Lane as a “restricted byway”. This means that the sections on both sides of the A1237 would be accessible by, not only pedestrians, but also cyclists, horse riders and those driving a “horse and cart”.

It is not clear how much additional maintenance expenditure would be incurred by the change (parts of the route tend to get overgrown) while safety concerns at the by pass junctions remain a real concern.

Missing speed camera performance report found

We reported on claims made in April that the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) had claimed that University report had found that 8 accidents had been prevented as a result of the deployment of mobile speed camera vans in the county.

We did wonder at the time how they could possibly know?

Maybe accident reduction is about keeping drivers alert?

The police have previously admitted that they don’t record the trend in average/mean/top speeds recorded at the sites that they regularly monitor with cameras.

So there is currently no way of knowing whether vehicle speeds are reducing, or increasing, over a period of time.

Nor were the police able to provide accident data for monitored sites, although we still await a response from a fresh Freedom of Information request on this issue.

On 11th May, North Yorkshire Police emailed us to say that they “do not currently hold a copy of the study conducted by Newcastle University

On 5th June, following further pressure,  the PCCs office provided a link to what they claimed was the University study. As we recorded at the time, this study concerned only Northumberland and appeared to have little relevance to the situation in North Yorkshire.

On 30thJune a further message was received from the PCCs office. It appears that they had now found a report (reproduced below).  It transpires that the report was based on a desk top study that had been undertaken in 2015

Unfortunately, the report covered a period between 2011 and 2014 where there had been a general downturn in accident figures across the whole of North Yorkshire.

We conclude that the Police and PCC have been evasive when responding to requests that they justify their expenditure on deploying additional mobile camera vans (There are 12 in the county now).

Too often it seems that the cameras are located at sites where the principal objective is to maximise revenue (the income from “speed awareness” courses is used by the police to offset the costs of the vans).

Recent accidents on the A64 may raise further concerns about the effectiveness of the policy.

The original intention of the speed vans had been to locate them at and near, accident black spots.

They would also spend some of their time in the suburbs, and in villages, as a way of reassuring residents who were concerned about speeding issues.

When we have the final information that we requested on accident levels we will write to the PCC.

If necessary, this will be followed by a formal complaint.

Newcastle University report for North Yorkshire Police and PCC

So do speed cameras reduce accident levels?

In April the North Yorkshire Crime  and Policing Commisioner (PCC), Julia Mulligan, announced that 6 additional mobile speed camera vans were being deployed in the area. This brought the total n number of vans to 12.

In doing so, she cited a University of Newcastle report which she claimed demonstrated that the mobile speed camera vans had reduced the number of “killed or seriously injured” accidents in the county by 8. 

but had they?

On 13th April The Press reported the PCC as saying, “Over the past three years Newcastle University has conducted studies into North Yorkshire’s killed or seriously injured statistics across 22 local sites and evaluated the effect of the mobile speed camera vans on the level of road safety. The study found that due to the deployment of the vans to those sites there has been a reduction of eight casualties”.

The clear implication of the comment was that a study had been carried out in York and North Yorkshire.

Following a Freedom of Information request the North Yorkshire Police said they didn’t have a copy of any such report.

When pressed, the PCC’s office provided a link to a report on accidents in Northumberland  (click)

The Commissioners office has conceded that the study was in fact carried out in Northumberland. It is unclear how the figures have been extrapolated to support additional expense on deploying more cameras in our North Yorkshire.

What is clear is that the Northumberland report covers a reference period of 18 years during most of which time, in North Yorkshire, there had been a reduction in the number of recorded road accidents anyway.

Mobile speed cameras were first deployed in North Yorkshire  – on a very small scale – in 2010.

NY police continue to resist calls for information on how effective the cameras have been.

They say that – for regularly monitored sites – they do not hold records of the mean, 85% percentile and maximum speeds recorded at each camera visit. Therefore no trends have been identified. They say it would be too expensive to trawl their records to gather the information. Nor do they promise to report the information in future…. meaning that we may never know whether the cameras actually influence traffic speeds.

We also currently don’t know whether the vans are achieving their primary purpose of reducing accident levels. Again the police do  not routinely correlate accident levels on those roads which are subject to routine camera surveillance.

We do know that accident levels generally on our roads have shown a small increase over the last couple of years.

We can understand the eagerness of the PCC to provide high profile “reassurance checks” on speeds in sub-urban areas and villages where local residents raise concerns.

However the large scale deployment of vans at sites which either do not have a poor accident record, or where there is no public concern, will prompt criticism that they are just a self sustaining “cash cow”.

Income from” the speed awareness courses” offered to law breakers, is used to fund the running costs of the vans.

In 2015/16, £1.7 million was received by the police from this source

In our view, the both the Police and the PCC need to be more open about the effects that the millions of pounds invested in this project are actually having.

Hopefully their next annual report will be more transparent.