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Speed cameras "in wrong place" 06.02.11

by Caoimhinn Barr, Inishowen Independent

INISHOWEN speed cameras are in the wrong place, targeting the wrong people. That’s the claim of a Buncrana taxi driver, who is convinced that the aim of the scheme is to make money rather than to save lives on the roads.
Speaking to the Inishowen Independent, Barney Griffin said that hundreds of perfectly safe drivers are being fined in restricted zones because they are easy targets.
“These cameras are sitting on the approaches into towns like Buncrana because that’s where they can make the most money. We are reaching a scenario where it is becoming difficult not to get points. There are lots of poor people getting points and fines, who shouldn’t be. They are not dangerous or reckless drivers,” he said.
“More than thirty people have been killed on the Burt to Bridgend road over the years yet there are no cameras there because it is harder to catch people out on a 100kms route. I was told by the Gardai that these cameras would concentrate on accident black spots but that has not happened.”
A former fireman who attended the scene of scores of accidents, Barney said that the vast majority occur between midnight and 5am while the speed vans operate largely during daylight hours.
“I welcome the introduction of cameras here but not if they are just to catch drivers who are doing six or seven kms over the speed limit on the outskirts of a town. I know a man in Fahan who was caught twice inside the space of three hours. He was hit with four penalty points and a fine for €160 even though he had never been booked in his life before,” he said.
Cashel na Cor in Umricam, Buncrana, where drivers are getting speeding fines.
Meanwhile a number of disgruntled local drivers have expressed their anger after being issued with speeding fines in a restricted zone, which, they claim, is not properly marked.
The local motorists were snapped by a specialised blue van fitted with speed cameras on the main Carn to Buncrana road near the Cashel Na Cor Centre.
The area, less than a mile from the Cockhill Bridge, carries a 60kph speed limit but only one partially hidden sign warns drivers to slow down.
The speed trap, just yards past the sign, only visible to drivers at a distance of fifty yards, is understood to have snared scores of oblivious drivers, who were subsequently issued with postal fines.
A Clonmany man, who did not wish to be named, said he was disgusted after his wife was fined €80 and handed two penalty points after being caught doing 69kph in what she thought was an 80kph zone.
“I thought we were fine because I was sure it was an 80 zone. Where they were sitting, near the Cashel Na Cor centre, we had no chance to slow down. My wife has never been fined for anything like this before; it’s nothing more than a deliberate ploy to make money from easy targets,” he blasted angrily.
Road safety campaigner Susan Gray said that Inishowen motorists going above the limit had little cause for complaint.
“I welcome the speed cameras. They are there for a reason and that is to encourage people to slow down whether it is in the middle of a town or in more rural areas. People can’t call for the introduction of speed cameras on one hand and then complain as soon as they’re brought in.”
“It may seem unfair and people may not like it but the limit of 50kph in urban areas is to ensure that motorists drive slowly through our towns and villages. We can’t ignore the law in the town while enforcing it elsewhere. The law is the law, full-stop,” she said.
Chairman of the Joint Policing Committee, Cllr. Joe Doherty said he would raise the issue of the location of speed cameras at the next meeting with the Gardai.
“Speed cameras are a welcome addition to Inishowen but I can understand that people have concerns over where they are situated. In fact many locals have contacted me over the past week on this issue. It is not for me to say where the cameras are stationed but I will certainly raise this issue with the Superintendent at the next meeting,” he said.
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