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Everything You Need to Know About Speed Cameras

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 20 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
Speed Cameras Motoring Government Film

Is the tide starting to turn against the use of speed cameras? As part of the Government’s attempts to reduce the national deficit, they have been asking local authorities to cut their own spending plans.

As a result, many councils throughout the UK have begun to reconsider their policies on speed cameras and are looking to make cuts to their road safety budgets.

Oxford Council was the first local authority to begin turning off its cameras, but the trend to try to find ways to save money could see many more councils doing the same thing. But are they right to do so?

The statistics would appear to argue against switching off the cameras. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents speed camera enforcement of speed limits helps to save an estimated 100 lives a year in the UK. It argues that cameras should continue to be used in areas where casualty statistics indicate they are particularly needed.

Speed Camera Locations

Most fixed cameras must, by law, be situated in areas where there is evidence of a history of accidents. Many motorists, however, and some motoring organisations believe that this has not been the case for several years.

In fact, the RAC recently conducted a survey that showed more than 70% of British motorists believed that the primary purpose of speed cameras was to raise revenue rather than encourage safer driving.

Higher Usage Rates

Although the number of speed cameras might be on its way down, the number of cameras with film inside them has been going up in recent years.

Furthermore, the number of new digital GATSO cameras, which do not require film, is increasingly common. These cameras have no limit to the number of drivers they can catch out.

Lower Speeding Thresholds

Drivers might be surprised that the threshold at which a motorist is considered to be speeding has also been lowered in recent years.

Whereas some motorists used to be get away with driving above the speed limit by an additional 15% without getting a penalty, this is no longer the case. There have been many instances of drivers being fined for driving at 10% above the legal limit, for example being caught at a speed of just 33mph in a 30mph area.

Speed Cameras on the Move?

Motorists should note that just because there may be fewer fixed cameras on the roads does not mean that there will be more opportunities to speed.

Mobile camera usage is also on the rise, and as they are cheaper to install and operate they may soon begin to overtake the usage of fixed cameras.

Of course, mobile cameras are exempt from the laws governing the placement and usage of fixed speed cameras. Recent figures issued by the police revealed that the number of cameras attached to police motorcycles, cars and vans has risen by almost 40% in the last five years.

The Busiest Speed Cameras in Britain?

Not only is it the one of the busiest stretches of road in the country, but it’s also one of the most lucrative. On the M42 in Birmingham there are 12 fixed cameras located on a seven mile stretch of road, with a speed limit of 50mph. The stretch is believed to catch out 1,700 motorists a day, yielding more than £100,000 in fines daily.

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