Hated by some, they only want to keep the roads safe – this band of residents have a mission to crack down on speeding drivers through their Nottinghamshire village.
But the drivers aren’t always appreciative of being encouraged to slow down by a team of local people decked in high-viz jackets and pointing speed guns at traffic.
Ravenshead Community Road Safety group are all volunteers trying to encourage safer driving in the town and use speed scanners to show drivers how fast they’re really going on the roads.
Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Paddy Tipping joined the team to keep a watchful eye on a stretch of road outside a nursery – notorious for drivers to speed along close to 60 in the 40mph zone.
Nigel Leafe, a coordinator of the group, said: “If you’re walking around the village it’s pretty scary if traffic is whizzing past you, so it’s great benefit to the community that people go slower, and of course high speed in the wrong spaces causes accidents.
“We’ve chosen this road because the traffic does whiz along quite a bit and drivers react really well to it.”
In fact the impact of the group has been huge – previously when they were Speedwatch, Nigel did his own research of 40,000 cars which showed 10 per cent were speeding.
“We were asking the police to send out up to 40 letters to the police per session - that took an awful lot of police time up. Now, in the 18 sessions we’ve done with the new group, we’ve only sent out one letter.”
So now there is more of an education element – motorists travelling through the scanners are measured three times - once to warn them of their speed - a second time where they should be slowing and if they haven’t come within the limit by scanner number three – the team start taking down plates.
“It gives them the chance to slow down – and since doing it this way that number has fallen to almost zero while we’re hear.
But part of the problem is that the team aren’t always on the roads.
“As soon as we take of the high-vis jackets you see them speeding again,” said Nigel’s wife, Christine Leafe.
“Ravenshead is boarded by these cut-throughs, so at peaks times you get a lot of these drivers using the roads as a rat run.”
One member of the groups said: “When we’re not here 15-20 per cent of cars are speeding. We’ve watched cars speeding along at 66 miles an hour
“We’ve got our own little radar and we measure them from our gateway.
And it’s taken time for the community to get used to the volunteers promoting safer driving, as some have can be hostile as they drive past.
Another member of the group said: “It used to be that we got a lot of people hurling abuse, saying ‘why don’t you do something useful with your time like helping the homeless’. But we’re only trying to make the roads safer. We’ve had ‘V’ signs, we’ve had people stopping to shout at us. But now we get more waves than ‘V’s.”
The new group follows on from Speedwatch, which sought to catch drivers breaking the laws and report them to the police, now with more of an emphasis on educating drivers they have more of a deterrent effect.
Paddy Tipping said when he came to see the group in action: “People in Ravenshead like that local people are owning the problem and trying to resolve it. In part this came about because I was wondering the county and one of the things people said to me was that you’re not doing enough about speeding. We agree we’ve got to do something.
“When I first wrote the Police and Crime plan speeding didn’t really appear, it was pretty low down, but actually in villages like this speeding is a top issue for people so we’re trying to respond.
Commissioner Tipping has pledged to prioritise speeding and other road safety issues as part of a raft of measures designed to address the concerns of rural communities and improve the police response to rural crime.
He added: “Speeding or not wearing a seatbelt might not get the same headlines as violent crime but these issues are brought to my attention time and time again. I know that motoring problems can cause misery in our communities, particularly our rural villages.