DRIVERS caught flouting Oxford’s 20mph zones by as little as 4mph will now face a £100 fine and three points on their licence.
Thames Valley Police will start ticketing motorists breaking the limit this month and will offer a new £95 speed awareness course as an alternative to the fine and points.
It comes as figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the force handed out £36,960 in speeding fines since starting to enforce 20mph limits in 2012.
Previously, police only fined motorists doing 32mph or more in a 20mph zone because a course was not available for those breaking the lower limit.
Safety campaigners have welcomed the new enforcement but critics say safe drivers will be penalised and they predict the number of fines handed out will rocket.
Claire Benson, specialist unit manager on the Thames Valley Police roads policing team, said police staff were now being trained to deliver a three-hour course tailored to teaching drivers why it is important to stick to 20mph in the zones. She said it would have been unfair to penalise drivers before the course was available.
She said: “20mph limits are generally put in where there is a higher risk – it might be a school or community residential areas.
“They are put in to reduce the risk, so any breaking of those limits we will look at like any other speed limit.”
But she said she was not expecting a large number of drivers to be caught out and said they wouldn’t be increasing the level of speed reduction enforcement.
She added: “I would imagine it would be about on balance with all the other limits.”
The force are due to notify drivers of the date the change will come in through the media and its community messaging system.
Major Oxford roads and residential streets were made 20mph zones from September 2009 in a £250,000 move by Oxfordshire County Council.
Cyclox chairman Simon Hunt, above, said the new enforcement was likely to make the city a safer place.
He added: “Many people, not just cyclists, have felt for quite a long time that the 20mph residential roads in Oxford do need to have more enforcement.
“It has been extremely patchy and not sufficient.
“It is well known that the damage caused to someone struck by a moving vehicle at 30mph is much greater than at 20mph.”
Since enforcements began, police have fined 510 drivers for speeding in the zones.
Last August the fines went up nationwide from £60 to £100.
The Oxford Mail requested information on the number of drivers caught doing more than 24mph during speed checks, but the force would not release the information.
However, an Oxford Mail survey in 2012 found 85 per cent of drivers were breaking the limit in St Giles.
Using a radar gun to test the speed of 100 motorists, we found the average speed for all vehicles was 24mph – enough to get a fine under the new enforcement.
All money from speeding fines is passed to the Treasury.
Plumber Kevin Wallington, who was prosecuted for breaking the limit in East Oxford, said the change would see a huge rise in the number of speeding fines handed out.
The 48-year-old, of Parsons Place, said: “They are going to make a killing. Everyone goes over 24mph.
“The speed of 20mph is ludicrous, it is too slow. You drive to the road conditions.”
Mark McArthur-Christie, a former lobbyist for the Association of British Drivers, said the courses would do drivers good but he added the stricter enforcement risked penalising those driving safely.
He said: “The thing is (police) are tending to enforce the 20mph limit in places where the 20mph should not be – like St Giles.
“It is not the limits that matter – it’s safe driving that matters.”
TICKETS ISSUED OVER PAST TWO YEARS
- May 2012 to December 2012 – 168 tickets worth £4,980
- January 2013 to December 2013 – 256 tickets worth £18,240
- January 2014 to April 2014 – 86 tickets worth £8,600
- Total tickets = 510. s Total fine potential = £36,960
Our top stories: