SPEEDING motorists will no longer be able to escape detection under cover of darkness as new hand-held night-time enforcement cameras are pioneered across the region in a bid to cut road deaths.

Kendal and Ulverston will be among towns targeted after dark with a monitoring programme that uses Redflex digital technology and a Home Office approved soft flash to catch speeding drivers red-handed.

The region which is one of the first in the country to begin mobile speed enforcement at night is leading the way in accident prevention with the North Wales and Suffolk police areas now hoping to follow suit.

The scheme has been launched by Cumbria Safety Cameras (CSC) after an in-depth analysis of data collected by Cumbria Constabulary revealed road accidents across the county peaked during the winter months - rising by as much as 33 per cent between 7am and 9am and again between 4pm and 7pm.

But CSC team manager Steve Callaghan says the mobile safety camera vehicle will only be parked in well-lit areas to give drivers a fair, sporting chance' of reducing their speed before they are flashed.

And he insists the equipment, which was tested in the spring, is safe and will not dazzle or impair drivers' vision.

But night time speed cameras have been decried as unsafe by speed camera campaigner Paul Smith, of Safe Speed.

"Even if the driver isn't dazzled by the flash, the shock value could distract them from the road," he said.

The speed enforcement programme coincides with moves to go live' with fixed speed cameras on the A591 at Ings and A590 at Millside as well as a £36,000 project by the Safer Roads for Cumbria Partnership to install shock road signs quoting fatality figures along two of South Lakeland's main routes.

The shock boards' will be positioned on the A590 from Kendal to Barrow, which in five years from 2000 has seen 27 fatalities and 114 serious injuries, and the A591 from Kendal to Keswick, on which ten fatalities and 70 serious injuries have occurred, as well as the A595 from Dalton to Carlisle.

It is hoped the signs, which stand on glass fibre poles designed to crumple in a controlled manner if hit by a vehicle, will force motorists to slow down and drive carefully.

Meanwhile, more than 150 drivers were detected speeding through the 50mph limit contra flow system by digital cameras monitoring roadworks on the M6, near Tebay, during Tuesday night's thick fog.

Staff at Cumbria Safety Cameras said in some instances the fog was so thick the cameras were unable to ascertain the shape of the offending vehicle.

Get the full story in The Westmorland Gazette.