Airborne speed camera over Essex

PUBLISHED: 18:12 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:34 31 May 2010

THE fight against dangerous driving has taken to the skies with a new initiative warning motorists of an airborne speed camera. The Essex County Council-led scheme involves the Essex police helicopter, which uses state-of-the-art number plate recogniti

THE fight against dangerous driving has taken to the skies with a new initiative warning motorists of an airborne speed camera.

The Essex County Council-led scheme involves the Essex police helicopter, which uses state-of-the-art number plate recognition, prowling the skies above Uttlesford to catch speeding motorists.

Senior traffic management officer at Essex Police, Adam Pipe, welcomed the idea and said that the helicopter would be used mainly to target speeding motorcyclists.

"Essex Police are keen to develop ideas and strategies that look to address and enhance driver and rider behaviour in an effort to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads," he said.

"Use of the force helicopter will enable officers to obtain video evidence of offences including excess speed.

"It will also support specific road safety operations by providing information and intelligence to officers on the ground in addition to the helicopter's ability to disrupt and detect travelling criminals.

"Our focus remains on reducing the number of casualties and there is concern that a small minority of riders continue to treat Essex roads with total disregard for not only their own safety but those of other road users and continue to flout a wide range of traffic legislation."

For a trial period, 26 signs have been put up across the county in places that have been designated as high risk accident areas. These include the Uttlesford B1057 road from Great Dunmow to Finchingfield.

If the trial is successful the distinctive blue signs could appear on more roads across the district.

The helicopter's automated number plate recognition (ANPR) device can read a number plate from 700ft.

The helicopter also uses radar speed detection equipment, high-tech GPS mapping software, thermal imaging and has a 'skyshout' public address system to warn drivers and others on the ground of a detection or pursuit.

Cllr Norman Hume, chairman of the Essex casualty reduction board said: "We are seeing accidents in Essex dramatically reduced as a result of our intervention and education campaign, but we need to make more of an impact on motorcycle accidents.

"There is a perception that it is sometimes easier for motorcyclists to evade detection of offences because of the speed they travel at.

"We feel that signs warning of the likelihood of detection by air will be an extra incentive for particularly motorcyclists, but all motorists, to drive safely and help us to reduce accidents further.

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