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Drivers are reaching speeds of up to 60mph in the town centre with over 850 vehicles travelling above the 30mph limit in just one week, according to figures obtained by Melksham News.
The speeds were recorded during a tube count – two pneumatic tubes stretched across the road, separated by a known distance – conducted in the Market Place during the week commencing 29th April this year.
According to the tube count, of the 90,471 vehicles using the Market Place over the seven-day period, a total of 862 cars were travelling over the 30mph speed limit. The figures from Wiltshire Council also show eight vehicles travelling at speeds above 75mph, reaching in excess of 100mph – but Wiltshire Council has dismissed the high speeds, labelling them as ‘discrepancies’.
‘Shocked’ by the results, Melksham’s mayor, cllr Jon Hubbard, has again called for a 20mph speed limit to be imposed in the town centre. He has also demanded that speed indicator devices (SIDs) – electronic signs that warn drivers of the speed limit – be permanently installed on Spa Road and Semington Road, which residents say also feel the impact of speeding drivers using the town centre.
Speaking to Melksham News, cllr Hubbard said, “We need a 20mph limit to make the town centre a safer place for all residents. There is lots of evidence that shows when a 20mph limit is introduced, the average speed on that road does come down – the vast majority of drivers will stick to the limit.
“However, in modern cars you can’t feel or hear the difference between 30mph and 50mph – so I want to see SIDs used in the town – these will help the majority of drivers who have unknowingly gone over the speed limit to slow down.
“I will be taking a motion to Wiltshire Council in October to change the policy on SIDs – currently they are only used for two weeks at a time on roads that have had a metro count demonstrating that people are speeding at high levels. I want to propose that SIDs are fixed permanently to sites of concern – and I want to see them permanently placed on Spa Road and Semington Road, which drivers speed down, leaving or approaching the town centre.”
About why the tube count was conducted, a Wiltshire Council spokesperson explained, “This was part of general traffic monitoring and not for any specific scheme or purpose.”
When asked by Melksham News, if the speeding figures would prompt any action to combat the issue, highlighting the speeds in excess of 100mph, the council spokesperson said, “This may inform future work we undertake but there is no immediate action following this tube count.
“The results are obtained from two pneumatic tubes stretched across the road, separated by a known distance. The speed is calculated from the time difference between air pulses generated when a vehicle crosses the tubes.
“Discrepancies can arise if two vehicles in opposite directions cross the tubes at almost the same time. Problems can also occur in slow-moving traffic if a vehicle stops with an axle between the two tubes.
“The probability of these events happening is greatest at busy times, so it’s not surprising that the 100mph events occurred when the hourly flow was >400 vehicles.
“So essentially the data as a whole and its purpose to determine road safety isn’t affected by these anomalies but cannot be relied upon to accurately identify some individual vehicle speeds.”