Speeding motorists forced to apologise
"I'M very sorry, it won't happen again"
Embarrassed and apologetic, speeding motorists came face-to-face with young pupils who accused them of putting lives at risk outside their school gates.
In the Gazette's latest crackdown, as part of our Safety At Schools campaign, shamed drivers were forced to explain themselves to schoolchildren after being caught up to 12mph over the limit outside Brentwood County High and Ingrave Johnstone Primary School.
Among those handed a fine and points on their driving licence on Friday was an embarrassed father of a policeman and another male driver who had three young children of his own.
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The fastest driver, clocked at 42mph, was a 29-year-old man who already had points on his licence and was driving his father's Mercedes Kompressor, but did not want to face the young pupils.
Among the others embarrassed was 40-year-old Jaguar XF driver Lee Ranson, who was given a warning after being caught going 36mph by County High pupils, as he headed to Brentwood Community Hospital with a "bad knee".
"I will never be speeding again," Mr Ranson promised the children, as he backed the Gazette's SAS campaign.
"Thank you very much, I'm very sorry, it won't happen again."
Another driver caught was a 63-year-old man, returning to work after making a delivery, but pulled over on the busy Brentwood Road, at Ingrave Johnstone Primary School, after being caught going 39mph in his white Ford Focus. He was one of three drivers handed a fine and three points on his licence that morning.
The man, who only gave his name as Terry, told the young pupils: "My son is a police officer, so it is not going to go down too well. I usually keep to 30mph, perhaps 33mph, but nothing above."
He later added: "I don't normally speed but it's a case of mind on other things. It is a day's wages lost."
A father of three young children who was driving a green Ford Fiesta along Brentwood Road, received the same penalty for going 39mph, as he rushed between offices.
He said: "I don't really have an excuse, I will make sure I don't do it again."
He later told the Gazette, "I have kids of my own, so I am probably more embarrassed. My kids would love to be in that scenario."
The special hour-long speed check operations came in the same week as Essex Police issued brand new accident figures to the Gazette.
These reveal a total of 108 children, aged 0-17, being victim to road accidents in the last three years. Of these 24 were serious and one of them was a fatality on the A12. Seven of these were actually during journeys to school.
Back at the speed check, an Audi driver who escaped with a warning for going 35mph past Brentwood County High, on Seven Arches Road, did not want to give his name but was equally ashamed.
He added: "I wasn't paying attention as I should have been.
"I feel terrible, I won't do it again."
The teams of pupils from both schools asked a range of questions to the speeding motorists who were pulled over during the operation.
Brentwood County High pupil David Lepine, 12, wanted drivers to think about all the lives they could be ruining with their reckless driving.
He said: "It is bad because they could really hurt someone. It is not just the children they could be hurting, it is the adults as well."
His classmate, James Foss, 12, added: "It is dangerous. They could take someone's arm off."
Over at Ingrave Johnstone Primary the message was just as clear.
Ben Bellchambers, 9, said: "A child could die if they hit them."
Rose Davey, also 9, added: "If you speed you could run someone over."
The SAS speed check operation was led by PC Gavin Tuck, a youth officer for Epping Forest and Brentwood, who wanted to send a clear message to motorists.
He said: "My message to drivers in the Brentwood area and Essex as a whole is that there is no excuse for speeding around schools or any road in the county.
"Those extra miles an hour could ruin the lives of an innocent party and that of the driver.
"If you are caught you should expect to receive a fine, points on your licence and if the speed is excessive, a court appearance."
He added: "There is no need to speed. Today it has been quite an age range – the youngest we have stopped was 29 and the oldest was 63.
"You can see, it is not just young people speeding, it is across the board."
PC Tuck, however, does not believe there is one simple answer to stop speeding, but instead a combination of tactics to deliver the message home.
He said: "It is a bit of everything really. Traffic calming has its place, enforcement has its place, as does education.
"You have to remember when you get into that car, you are driving something that could take someone's life."