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Last Updated:

18th June 2020

Doddinghurst Speedwatch

Speedwatch is a friendly community activity

It is intended to reduce traffic speeds through our villages. We have some help from Essex Police who issue us with a speed gun (shared with the Speedwatch team at Blackmore).and service it every year or two.

At the time of writing, Speedwatch is waiting approval to continue, having been stopped due to Covid 19. The team is hoping to persuade the Police and Fire and Rescue that it can be safe to continue with social distancing of the roadside team.

This is how it works

We go out in teams of two or preferably three volunteers to record the details and speeds of vehicles which are significantly above the local speed limit. To give space for inaccuracies and avoid being accused of being too picky , we only record details of vehicles above 36mph in a 30mph zone. We note down the following for each vehicle:- time, speed, vehicle registration plate, colour, make and, where possible, model. That is why it is helpful to have three on the team, rather than two. The idea is very much to remind people to keep within speed limits rather than penalise them. However, we are told that the police may deploy a patrol if our records highlight a problem area.

What happens then

We submit the records electronically to a Police or Fire and Safety team who send letters to offending drivers. No fines or other penalties are issued, but if the police jear about a vehicle offending three times, they may send a police offer to the offender's house to give a stern warning.

A side effect of the process is that police are also able to pick up records of vehicles being driven without insurance, of interest with respect to crimes, or with stolen, missing or otherwise false registration plates.

By the Roadside

We are also invited to record details of vehicles where the driver is clearly using a mobile 'phone.
The police ask us to wear hi-vis jackets and have supplied a small number. Fortunately some of us have our own, so there isn't necessarily a problem with Covid 19 vulnerability.
In general we find we receive a lot of thanks for our efforts at the roadside, and very few rude or aggressive comments, and only one in the last five years has been remotely threatening. There are some statistics that show that drivers over all respond better to the letters that the police send them than to fines from normal speed cameras. In Essex, we are instructed to place large (heavy!) portable warning signs 100m either side of our team.
We would much prefer the the arrangement that we have heard about in Suffolk where whole village are covered by signs that warn that Speedwatch may be active at any time.
Nevertheless, we do get to record the details of quite a few drivers who ignore both the speed limits and our signs.

The locations where we do it

The Doddinghurst team has normally operated at the following authorised locations. (Authorised by the Police or by Fire and Rescue) Church Lane - opposite Doddinghurst Road or Barn Mead; Outings Lane near The Gardens; Doddinghurst Road near Brook Lane Wyatts Green Road opposite Plovers Mead and Hook End Road near the junction with Outings Lane and Blackmore Road

The Times We operate

The times that we operate vary, but at the time of writing we older members rarely get up in time to monitor the very high speeds as people rush to work between 6 and 9 a.m. We hope that new team members will take this on. Doddinghurst roads are often relatively quiet until the afternoon school rush when we are often appalled by the speed at which some drivers head in to the melee around the schools. We try to monitor the evening rush home, too, although it is too dark to do this in the darkest days of winter.

Peter Fisk