Editorial: Shock at speeding statistics

The shocking speeds recorded on a rural road in Co Down should be a source of enormous concern for police and anyone using our public road network.

During a 10-month period last year, a device positioned on the A21 Ballynahinch Road outside Saintfield twice clocked motorists travelling in excess of 160mph – thought to be the highest speeds recorded on any road in Northern Ireland outside motorcycle racing.

The figures obtained by The Irish News also reveal that several vehicles were found to be speeding at more than 150mph and a total of 85 vehicles were logged exceeding 100mph.

It is not known what type of vehicles were involved and whether any were motorbikes.

However, it is beyond question that anyone racing at speeds approaching 100mph or beyond within a 60mph zone is putting both their own lives at risk and those of anyone unfortunate enough to encounter them.

The 'speed indicator device' that recorded the figures – an illuminated display which reminds drivers to slow down if they are going too fast – was installed by Newry, Mourne and Down Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

While it does not record vehicle registrations or provide information for prosecutions, the information helps police identify where best to deploy speed cameras and patrols.

The PSNI has described the figures for the A21 as shocking and said local officers are working alongside specialist road policing colleagues to address the issue.

However, the reality is that this comes at a time when policing resources are under huge pressure. Chief Constable Simon Byrne warned earlier this year that a budget shortfall of around £80m will mean "less police and less policing", including a "reduced proactive presence on our roads despite rising road deaths".

Of course the best way to improve road safety is for all motorists to drive with care, attention and consideration for other vehicles, keeping within speed limits and concentrating at all times on the road.

It is clear that those travelling at such dangerous speeds on the A21 were either confident they were unlikely to be detected or did not care about the consequences if they were.

Either way a greater police presence is vital at areas where speeding is known to be an issue to provide greater deterrence for those prepared to break the law or to catch them in the act.