Northern Ireland

Vehicle clocked at 158mph speeding past primary school

Sacred Heart PS principal Joey Kelly outside the school. Picture by Mal McCann
Sacred Heart PS principal Joey Kelly outside the school. Picture by Mal McCann

HUNDREDS of vehicles have been captured moving at extraordinarily high speeds across Mid Ulster.

One driver or motorcycle rider was detected speeding at 158mph past a primary school at the time its youngest pupils would usually be picked up.

Detection devices captured vehicles being driven at speeds far exceeding 100mph at four primary schools in the district.

Mid Ulster District Council revealed the highest recorded figure on a speed indicator device (SID) was 161mph. Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon captured speeds up to 160mph on its devices.

A device placed close to Sacred Heart PS in The Rock near Dungannon caught several vehicles moving at more than 110mph, including the one at 158mph at 1.42pm on a Tuesday between September and December 2021 - almost the exact time the Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils finish.

“I am just dumbfounded,” said principal Joey Kelly.

"I just cannot get my head around this. I am only recently appointed and did not know there was a speed device placed outside but there are grounds for me to get some sort of safety measures put in place. As a principal, all I am thinking is all it takes is for one child to run out on the road chasing a football."

Read more: Drivers clocked speeding at more than 160mph branded 'shocking' by police and road safety campaigners  

Speed indicator devices. Westcotec
Speed indicator devices. Westcotec

Most council areas, through Police and Community Safety Partnerships, own and manage SIDs. Information from devices is passed to police.

A device managed by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council caught one vehicle moving at 164mph on the Ballynahinch Road outside Saintfield.

Two vehicles were clocked doing more than 160mph, several over 150mph, while approximately 80 vehicles were recording speeding at more than 100mph in a 10 month period.

The council said engineers checked the devices, no faults were found and numbers were correct.

Mid Ulster said that in the last 12 months "214 vehicles were recorded at speeds over 100mph. The top five speeds (mph) recorded were 162, 161, 156, 154 and 152".

SIDs are illuminated roadside devices that record a speed but do not capture the plate number or the type of vehicle. The aim is to remind drivers and riders of the speed so that they will slow down.

The numbers in three council areas caught speeds far in excess of the highest ever revealed to the wider public, outside of bike road racing, or recorded on any speed camera.

While the vehicle is not identified, the speeds are so high it is believed most must be motorbikes or possibly high end sports cars or "souped up" vehicles.

ABC PCSP's latest figures for just the first three months of last year caught top speeds ranging from 71mph to 160mph.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council said its highest speed captured in the year to the end of December was 91mph on the Ballynahinch Road, Carryduff. Other speeds were 87mph and 86mph.

Belfast City Council insisted the city PCSP does not hold any statistics in relation to SIDs, though the Department for Infrastructure said they are the responsibility of the local authorities.

Derry and Strabane said any information on speeds is not publicly available "as it could actually cause an increase in higher speeds if, for example, drivers try to 'beat' the highest speed" at a particular location.

Ards and North Down does not have any working SIDs. Other councils were not able to immediately find numbers while Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid and East Antrim was also contacted.