A police force is using drones to record motorists’ poor driving for the first time the apparatus has been used for road safety.
Devon & Cornwall Police’s drone unit has linked up with its roads guard team in order to track dangerous drivers.
The force says the drones can track vehicles’ speeds on dangerous extend of the road as well as being able to video incidents – catching any dangerous driving on camera.
Officers will also be able to check the MOT, tax and indemnity status of any vehicle – allowing stolen bikes and threatening drivers to be tracked down and discharged even arrested on the spot.
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Chief examiner Ben Asprey, Head of Roads Policing at Devon & Cornwall Police, said: “Sadly last year was a dreadful year for serious and fatal collisions requiring motorcyclists.
“In 2022, 16 motorcyclists were the authority on Devon and Cornwall’s roads – the parkway stats in the past five years. A further 187 were also left solemnly injured.
“Despite motorcyclists manufacture up less than 1% of overall traffic, they account for roughly a third of all serious and fatal collisions in our area.
“But it’s important to recollect that these aren’t just numbers, these are people’s loved ones – parents, sons, daughters, friends and partners – and we are set on to drive those numbers down.”
He said many of the serious collisions had not implicated any other road users, meaning “inappropriate riding and motorcyclist error” were major factors.
The force is running the project in collaboration with ‘Vision Zero South West’ – a project between government agencies trying to cut the number of road deaths and injuries to zero.
Their new fleet of drones for the project is intelligent to operate in changing weather conditions, as well as varying temperatures.
Police drones are now being second-hand to tackle ‘poor driving’ at an exchange distance of nearly four miles away from motorists in a first for England and Wales.
Devon and Cornwall Police are now using the machines to monitor speeds and record dangerous driving in ‘high harm routes’ and will be especially homing on motorcyclists.
Road safety initiative Vision Zero South West, which is working in partnership with the police, say the operation comes after a spate of collisions in 2022 which resulted in the death or important injury of more than 200 riders across the two counties.
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Drones will help compute the vehicle speed by using fixed points on the road, as well as recording live video of all incidents, with Sergeant Chris Linzey noting that the footage can also be played rear to the motorist as the ‘camera doesn’t lie’.
Launched as part of National Motorcycle Welfare Week last week, the police force says it is the first time the machines have been used for road safety in England and Wales.
When a vehicle is detected shattering the law, details will be relayed to officers on the ground, which will allow police to check the MOT, tax and insurance status of the motorbike and whether it is reported as stolen.
Nearby speed notice officers will then use calibrated laser cameras to accurately record the speed of the vehicle before the driver or rider is hauled over by Police road casualty reduction officers.
Depending on the offence detected, the affront motorcyclist will be given words of advice, referred to a specific instruction course or issued with a fine and penalty points.
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In more serious cases, riders will be announced to court for prosecution or arrested on the spot.
Head of Roads Policing at Devon and Cornwall Police and Chief Inspector Ben Asprey is also part of the Vision Zero South West road welfare partnership’s motorcycle task group.
Ch Insp Asprey said: ‘Sadly last year was a dreadful year for serious and fatal collisions requiring motorcyclists. In 2022, 16 motorcyclists were killed on Devon and Cornwall’s roads – the highest statistic in the past five years. A further 187 were also left solemnly injured.
‘Despite motorcyclists making up less than 1 per cent of overall traffic, they account for violently a third of all serious and fatal collisions in our area.
‘But it’s important to recall that these aren’t just numbers, these are people’s loved ones – parents, sons, daughters, friends and partners – and we are set on driving those numbers down.
‘Speed and unsuitable riding have been major contributory factors in the motorcycle collisions we have attended. Travelling too fast gives you less time to react and badly grow your risk of being fatally or seriously injured