Police target pest drivers
SPEEDING and noisy drivers who have been making life a misery for residents are being put on notice that police are coming for them.
An operation targeting anti-social motorists is being launched in the Downend area, focusing on both residential streets and the Avon Ring Road.
Staple Hill Neighbourhood Police Team has been given access to specialist equipment to measure the noise made by modified exhausts and detect derestricted motorbikes.
It will be used in days of action on anti-social driving across the area, alongside officers' regular speed, alcohol and drug testing kit.
Patrol cars and police motorbikes will be looking for suspect vehicles, which will then be taken to a specially-arranged testing site.
The days of action, under an initiative known as Operation Torque, are expected to start within weeks and will continue into the summer, when complaints of anti-social driving and riding increase.
Dozens of readers contacted the Voice after we reported on the "unbearable" noise experienced by residents living near the A4174 from drivers using it as a race track during the first lockdown last year.
Many residents also complained to the police and politicians about the problem.
Staple Hill Neighbourhood Constable PC Neal Scarborough said: "We've had lots of complaints about vehicles being used anti-socially, and quite often people refer to the loudness of the vehicle.We now have the tools to set up our own initiative, tackling anti-social vehicles and the behaviour of drivers."
Drivers who are suspected of having modified their exhausts to make their vehicle louder will be pulled over and taken to a test site, where a decibel meter will be used on them. Any which are found to be louder than the manufacturer's limit will land their owner in trouble.
That could range from being given advice and required to change back the exhaust to court action where appropriate.
Officers are also targeting young motorbike and scooter riders, particularly those aged under 17 who have illegally derestricted their bikes to drive at over 30mph.
Those who are stopped will have their vehicles checked on a 'rolling road' device which can uncover illegally modified engines.
PC Scarborough said that in the case of young riders safety concerns were uppermost.
He said: "Young people are most at risk of a fatal or serious road collision."
"We're also going to be looking at other road users that cause anti-social behaviour, from motorbikes with a big racing exhaust screaming up and down the ring road to modified cars.
"Some of the ring road drivers don't even live in South Gloucestershire but they are keeping the community up all night. You can hear motorbikes or cars that are just massively excessive and it's those people we are targeting.
"However it's not just the ring road, it's the back streets we are looking at as well, as some of these people are living within our communities – the cars could be parked in neighbours' driveways."
PC Scarborough told a recent meeting of the Staple Hill and Mangotsfield Community Engagement Forum that one driver had recently been caught speeding at up to 60mph on Staple Hill High Street and Station Road – he was given a £2,000 fine after taking his case to court.
Some actions will involve specialist road policing teams while others may involve inspectors from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, who can comb cars for defects and take unsafe ones off the road.
The resident who raised concerns with the Voice last year, Tim Hockey, welcomed the action. Tim, who lives yards from the ring road between the Bromley Heath and Wick Wick roundabouts, has contacted the police, South Gloucestershire Council and local MP Chris Skidmore over the past year to call for action.
He said: "I am pleased that the police have finally acknowledged that there is an issue with speed and noise along the ring road. Hopefully this monitoring will result in actions which will make local residents’ lives more bearable."
Mr Skidmore has launched a petition to take measures to improve fencing next to the A4174 to cut noise from vehicles.
Another voice reader, Mangotsfield resident Sian Spring, is calling on South Gloucestershire Council to standardise the speed limit on the A4174 to 50mph along its entire length.
Sian believes the changes between the 50mph limit on some stretches and the 70mph limit on others mean some drivers either don't see or ignore the lower limit.
She said: "It is absolutely crazy the speed at which drivers drive at. I have witnessed several times drivers racing one another.
"Some of these sections of the ring road are less than a mile long – it is absolutely ridiculous to have cars travelling at such high speeds on such short roads."