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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 10:36 GMT
Do we need more speed cameras?
Do we need more speed cameras?
A pilot scheme that uses money from speeding fines to buy more speed cameras has reduced the number of traffic accidents by up to 50 per cent.

The approach of the scheme, which makes offenders pay for better enforcement, is likely to spread nationwide later this year once a bill has passed through parliament.

Speed cameras are unpopular with some motorists and motoring organisations say they have to be used appropriately and not just as a way of generating revenue.

What do you think of the scheme? Should more speed cameras be installed? Or do you think they are a nuisance?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

More speed cameras please, especially here in the US

Jasmine Guha, Texas, USA
More speed cameras please, especially here in the US. They play an important role in reducing speed and therefore accidents. Human lives are far more important than a motorist's desire to drive fast. And if you want to drive fast come and live in Texas, where there are no speed cameras and where the accident/ road mortality rates are the highest in the country.
Jasmine Guha, Texas, USA

Speed cameras; they're a nightmare! How many times have motorists travelling on unknown roads braked sharply because they encounter the dreaded lines on the road and try to slow down? How much added congestion do they create through making sensible drivers go slower than is practical when roads are obviously clear and safe?

The problem is not the cameras; it's the inappropriate speed limits. Although the standard driver has not altered since horse-and-cart days, the car - and the roads even - have evolved immeasurably. The fact that motorways are the safest class of road in the UK despite the fact they carry the highest number of actual vehicles at the highest average speeds shows that high speed does not automatically lead to more accidents.
Adrian, UK

There are no justifiable arguments against speed cameras. The cost should be met by the people who speed. In Edinburgh virtually no one drives at the speed limit. Commuters coming into town are the worst offenders. Not only do they drive too fast they also drive too close. I would like to see cameras set to catch tailgaters as well.
Ian Smith, Scotland

If excess speed only accounts for 30 per cent of accidents, why aren't the "authorities" concentrating on the other 70 per cent? Excess age would seem to be a good one to focus on.
John Thomas, England

Put more police on foot patrol in towns centres, urban streets and shopping centre car-parks, catch the licence and tax and insurance dodgers, and take their cars away for not having the legal requirements - that may save as many lives as cameras.
Peter Nixon, England-USA

Speed cameras do nothing to detect people driving without insurance or driving dangerously

Greg, UK
Speed cameras do nothing to detect people driving without insurance or driving dangerously. Why do the police not give greater priority to protecting our homes and our children. We have become complacent about violent crime while our roads are comparatively safe. Is it because no revenue is generated from detecting or preventing these crimes? Urban speed limits should be varied to suit conditions and the time of day. This would restore some respect for the law in that technology was being used for common sense rather than misused by the authorities. It is about time that the politicians and police understood that they are public servants paid by us, for us, to carry out our wishes. Let's start with zero tolerance to rapists, murderers and child molesters before we use misleading statistics to justify persecuting motorists.
Greg, UK

Why not have speed cameras for slow drivers on trunk roads? These drivers never let others pass and cause others to do risky overtaking? Speed cameras themselves should be switched on with variable speeds as per road conditions (like the M25). I am fed up with seeing good 60mph -70mph roads calmed to 40mph with cameras when it is safe to do the faster speed at certain times of the day.
Dave (white van) Shields, UK

More speed cameras and a lower speed limit please! Motorway speed limits are continuously broken by maniacs who have no regard for their, or anyone else's, safety. Cameras are vital, and save lives. Car drivers are, in the main, arrogant to the point of stupidity when it comes to speed and must be slowed down.
Claire, UK

I am 31, I have 20/20 vision and my car has good tyres etc, yet I am the one targeted by police and their cameras, whereas a doddering 90 year-old with undetected cataracts, an Austin Allegro with rubbish tyres and drum brakes at 65mph will stop slower than I at 90 mph, you guess who is the more dangerous driver? It is purely yet another tax on the already abused motorist. Also driving with eight kids having a party on your back seat or using a mobile are far more dangerous than 85 mph on a motorway yet when do these offences go punished? Hardly ever!
Neil, England

Innocent human life versus an immature desire to drive a car fast.
I know what's more important to me, therefore I have no problem at all with Speed cameras. People that have to drive cars fast on public roads (and therefore endangering others) to get cheap thrills obviously have real problems. No matter what their age, they are just silly little boys.
Stuart, Scotland

These really are the 'children' who we don't want on our roads

Gary Dale, England
If more speed cameras help to reduce the number of traffic accidents then there's no question: let's have more. However, the real problem is the attitude of drivers. How many times have you seen drivers exceeding the speed limit until they get to the speed traps and then speed away again afterwards? It's really like a child who knows that s/he's doing something naughty and trying to conceal it. These really are the 'children' who we don't want on our roads.
Gary Dale, England

I think that the governments need to fiddle the figures to make cameras look good tells us all we need to know about their alleged effectiveness. Northamptonshire has claimed a massive drop in deaths, yet the resulting number is little different from their average for the last 5 years.
Keith Walker, UK

This issue seems to provoke more people talking rubbish than any other I can think of. The government should make public figures from the Transport Research Lab which show Exactly the numbers of accidents and the causes of them. Another point is that if speed cameras are REALLY connected with road safety they should be painted a more visible colour and not hidden behind signs as they are in Northumbria.
Neil Manners, UK

As for all those arguing that speed limits are inappropriate in may areas, this may be true, but it is still breaking the law

Nat, UK
How can people like Joe Llwelyn call the covert use of speed cameras 'entrapment'? I mean it's not like they are encouraging you to speed is it? If you do not know where or when a speed camera is going to catch you, then you will be more inclined to stick to the speed limit. As for all those arguing that speed limits are inappropriate in may areas, this may be true, but it is still breaking the law. If you want things to change then go about it legally, and don't whine!
Nat, UK

I rather like the argument that speed cameras shouldn't be used because only 1/4 - 1/3 of deaths are caused by speeding. Knowing that the annual death toll on the roads is about 3,500 people, are you suggesting that just because 2,500 lives a year won't be saved, you might as well let the other 1,000 die too?
CNS Durham, England

Using them as a revenue raiser is just another way of taxing the motorist

Patrick, UK
I support cameras at accident blackspots but using them as a revenue raiser is just another way of taxing the motorist. We already pay 80% on petrol and VAT on anything to do with cars. What we need is driver education not driver criminalisation. It is far better for the police to stop and talk to a driver about their driving than simply to fine him, a fine teaches the driver nothing, a talk from the police might save a life. Education not taxation.
Patrick, UK

I agree with comments made by several people about the danger of being cut up, particularly on motorways. The safety issue is the real problem here. There as so many people who rarely venture onto motorways and their inexperience transfers into inappropriate and unsafe driving practices. Speed cameras are not about safety, they are a revenue making device and the DETR report supports such an argument. Cameras can be more useful on traffic lights and near to schools and hospitals. This is where there is vulnerability to pedestrians and other road users. If safety is to be improved concentrate on improving the education of the driver not employing due care and attention while at the wheel.
Marie Percival, UK

Anything which attempts to catch those who treat the roads as their own personal race-tracks has to be a good thing. However, the most effective - but perhaps not the most cost-effective weapon against speeding drivers, is the sight of a police patrol car on the road. Also, if there is to be an increase in cameras, make sure that there's some film in them - there are too many which don't even work and everyone knows where they are!!
Andy, Scotland

Sticking to a speed limit makes you a safe driver in the same way that painting by numbers makes you Leonardo DaVinci

Mark McArthur-Christie, UK
More cameras and greater emphasis on speed limits makes drivers believe that all they have to do to be safe is stick to a limit. Nothing could be more wrong. Safe driving is too complicated a process to be reduced to the simplistic formula "speed kills". What about observation? Anticipation? Hazard management? If all we have to do is stick to a speed limit, why doesn't the Government give driving licences away on the back of cornflake packets? Sticking to a speed limit makes you a safe driver in the same way that painting by numbers makes you Leonardo DaVinci.
Mark McArthur-Christie, UK

I agree with a previous comment that stated that tailgating at 70 was worse than driving at 80!! Speed DOES kill. We know that but idiotic driving by a growing number of drivers is just as bad. I would support more cameras and also perhaps CCTV at blackspots to identify those who drive without consideration for others. The fines received will easily pay for the cost of maintaining the system and will make the roads a safer place. Those who drive properly have NOTHING to fear!
Tony, UK

If the pilot scheme has reduced accidents by 50%, there can hardly be an argument against them.
Richard G, UK

I wish we had more cameras here in the US, especially in the larger cities. While there doesn't seem to be a need for them on highways, in heavily trafficked areas and in school and hospital zones, they would be a wonderful addition to the neighbourhood. And, they free up the police to pursue other criminal activity. People laugh at speed traps but they save lives and catch drunk drivers. As for the question of whether they are used for extorting money from motorists, if you break the law by speeding, how can you claim to have a proper fine extorted from you?
Linda, USA

The Government's own statistics show that 55 people were killed due to excessive speed-far less than were killed due to secondary infections caught while in hospitals

Dave, UK
Speeding is relative to the road conditions and location. It could well be silly to drive at 15mph outside a school when cars are parked either side of the road,. yet on the same stretch at 3am 50 could well be safe. This cozy middle class attitude that everybody who drives above a predetermined "limit" are social outcasts is plain daft. When asked in an anonymous poll whether they went over the speed limits,80% of JPs said they did!! There are also countless cases of locals badgering the Police for cameras only for the Police to discover that 80% of the problem is the locals themselves! The hypocrisy of this approach is mind boggling. Last year the Government's own statistics show that 55 people were killed due to excessive speed-far less than were killed due to secondary infections caught while in hospitals. One last point-the current 70mph speed limit was introduced when a Morris Minor took 500 yards to stop. Dave, UK

I personally would like to see some more detail behind the claims that the introduction of speed cameras has saved lives. I suspect very strongly that the police are using statistics to justify the introduction of these cameras when the figures would probably fallen anyway as a result of improved car safety. Can we see comparisons over the same period where no speed cameras were introduced?
Ross Pierrepont, England

Stop cluttering the country with those boxes that are visible for about a mile and a half and make everybody break like crazy just before approaching them. Do something sensible with our money.
Volker, England

Drivers always complain about rules (eg seat belts). One problem is that when driving you think you "know" when you are driving safely, but without really knowing the full facts you can easily be a bigger risk than you think, particularly to those not in a car. Speed limits are there to reduce risks and so should be properly enforced. If you don't like it argue to change the speed limit, not against the enforcement of the limit.
Saul Dobney, England

Which is the greater menace on the motorway - a clapped out 20 year old car driving flat out in the outside lane at exactly 70mph on a busy road, with old brakes and equally old tires - or a brand new car doing a comfortable 90mph at 2am on an empty road?
Dean, UK

Speeding cars are one of the most common causes of child death in this country

Domini Connor, UK
Speeding cars are one of the most common causes of child death in this country. Yet drivers see themselves as the victims, when they are caught.
Domini Connor, UK

Real safety measures would involve better driver education. Covert 'battleship grey' Gatsos hidden around corners or on main A roads to catch a vehicle at 5 pmh over the speed limit are only a cynical means of raising funds. If they wanted them to be a real deterrent they would be painted in bright dayglow colours to be seen from a distance.
Art, UK

I agree with the view that most of the cameras are now sited to make money not improve safety. What is interesting to read is the comments of how successful the new scheme has been in catching double or more speeders than before... surely this is wrong, if the scheme was working less people would be speeding, you don't see the police jumping up and down for joy when they have a rise in the number of drink drivers caught over Christmas do you? It seems the success is being measured on how much extra money is being made!
Scott, England

Speed kills and speed limits are there to be observed. It is dangerous, arrogant and selfish of drivers to ignore them
Tom Egan, England

I was once at a seminar held by the police and one of the police inspectors stated that speed in itself does not kill. It is the driver who cannot handle the speed who does the damage. I travel about 30 miles to work each day at speeds up to 115mph in a traffic queue without the danger. (By the way, that is in Germany!) It is the lowering of motorway speed limits which causes more accidents because all the vehicles are bunched-up together and cannot go over the low speed limits. Certainly let us have more cameras but in towns and villages where there are a lot more pedestrians and children who need protection, not on the open roads!
John C., Warwick, England / Mainz, Germany

If cameras save lives then surely they must be commended. Here in Victoria, Australia we have had them for many years, I have been their victim as well, and they seem to have the desired effect in traffic speed control.
David Phillips, Australia

If speed cameras are so successful at reducing fatal accidents, then how come the fatality rate has started increasing in the last few years - after declining steadily for decades? This, despite an ever-increasing number of cameras on roads with ever-decreasing speed limits. I wonder how many people would still be inclined to stick to the letter of the law if they reduced all speed limits to 10mph.
Peter H, UK

There should be tougher laws for drivers. Tougher criteria for passing the license examination. If the roads have been turned into a dangerous place than that should tell us something ..people are reckless. Automobile accidents can be fatal and people must be aware that how they drive has an effect to the other drivers.
Tou, United States of America

Several of the above correspondents have complained about 'hidden' cameras and suggested that they should be painted in bright colours as a 'deterrent'. Such clearly visible cameras will only be a deterrent for the short time it takes to drive past them however. Hidden cameras have a far greater effect because drivers don't know where they are, and will consequently drive within the limits all the time to avoid the risk of getting caught!
Kev Lunn, UK

Speed camera's are a must, cars are too fast and no consideration is made for other road users. camera's are much safer than the concrete sleeping policemen across the road. This is the only way people will slow down.
Alan, Wales

See these cameras and I perceive only a finger of the hand of the Treasury. One doesn't wish to appear overdramatic about this but speed cameras and sneaking coppers (who should be policing instead of acting as tax collectors) are beginning offer shades of George Orwell's 1984 scenario.
Michael Street, England

It is a fact there is little or no correlation between speed and road accidents, so why are we suffering the blight of the cameras? It is stated by the Government that speed is a contributor to a quarter of all road accidents, and whether you believe this or not, this means it is not a contributor in three quarters. We have the lowest road death rate in Europe and it has dropped steadily over the years. Though any deaths is too many it is clearly going to be difficult to get the death rate lower than it is, and focussing on speed will not achieve it
Adam Mackay, UK

Speed cameras in inner cities at locations like schools etc. yes..g.reat idea...But in the middle of nowhere,.where there is very little traffic and they are hidden behind trees and bushes and road are unfair, expensive and are only yet another way of taxing and persecuting the already overloaded motorist....The police should spend more resources catching REAL criminals!
Del Breingan, England

Why not cameras in the fronts of buses to catch motorists who use bus lanes?
Gill, UK

I agree with Russell. It really is quite simple: The speed limit exists for safety. Adhering to it is the law. If you exceed the limit, you are breaking the law, and if caught will be penalised. Those are the rules. If you don't like them, don't speed. Or better yet, get the bus.
Matthew Lamb, UK

I would point out that the DETR have published the fact that less than a third of all road deaths are attributable to inappropriate speed and therefore this campaign misrepresents the actual findings. The remainder is attributable to driver error, reckless driving and mechanical failure. I see nothing in this campaign which promotes safety on the roads and it does nothing to educate drivers to be more responsible for their driving actions. It focuses upon but one element of driving, inappropriate speed! The individual on the street cannot but see this exercise as a cynical programme by the government and the police to further fleece the motorist, the easy option!! !
Ralph, UK

Speed cameras are there solely to raise revenue and are nothing to do with safety

Alex Roebuck, England
Speed cameras are meant to placed only at 'accident blackspots', but many have been placed on open roads. Speed limits are being set too low and the proliferation of these non-discretionary devices will simply criminalise thousands of safe motorists and bring the police and the law into disrepute. Speed cameras are there solely to raise revenue and are nothing to do with safety.
Alex Roebuck, England

Why not fine the idiotic parents and owners of animals for creating some of the problems. Some children purposefully play games and run riot on main streets and this needs to be controlled as well. As for the insinuation of making money out of cameras, it more or less hits the nail on the head.
R. Thomas, Lancashire, UK

With over 200,000 vehicles daily passing Heathrow, the introduction of the overhead speed cameras and the enforced speed limit has dramatically improved traffic flows. In addition, speed cameras in rural towns and villages have definitely led to a reduction of accidents which has resulted in the lowest car fatality rate since the 1920's.
Alex Banks, Wales, Living in Sweden

Speed cameras in Britain are fixed

Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)
Speed cameras in Britain are fixed. People quickly know where they are and only "tourists" get caught. How about French-style cameras that are mobile, and take pictures not of the back of the car but the front, making sure no one caught can deny they were at the wheel.
Pascal Jacquemain, UK (French)

I've often found that hidden cameras contribute to the 'cutting up' of drivers, as the overtaking driver finds that what was initially a danger free exercise has suddenly become a threat to their licence. Cameras should placed at accident black spots, and be clearly visible. Perhaps then the police would be rewarded with even higher drops in accident figures.
Dr Herbert Chuff, UK

In built up areas, around schools for example, they have their uses. The trouble is when they are used on open roads and motorways. The 60 and 70mph limits were introduced when cars were slower and less safe than they currently are. Also, the driving test does not include adequate testing of how to handle a situation at speed. If this was addressed, then motorway and trunk road limits could be raised to 80 or 100mph. Then I would feel happier with the speed restrictions enforced, because they would be, for once, in the places they were needed.
Mark B, UK

If placed well, cameras could really be effective. Catching someone travelling at 90mph on an empty motorway isn't really helping society (it is just revenue collection or speed tax). However, catching the dork who jumps lights and causes REAL danger could really benefit all. I see so many accidents (in Japan) that could be avoided by punishing the idiots who disobey red lights. What is the problem? Red is red, don't do it!
Christopher Laird, Tokyo, Japan

Drivers travelling the same road every morning slow down for each camera. But if they know the road, they also know the speed at which they can drive it safely

K. Sadler, UK
Cameras are partially effective but not in the way they were intended. Drivers travelling the same road every morning slow down for each camera, drive past and accelerate again. But then, if they know the road, they also know the speed at which they can drive it safely.
The people who get caught are those driving on roads they do not know. This has a sort of logic to it, because anyone foolish enough to speed on a road they don't know is putting everyone at risk and deserves to be caught and penalised.
However cameras don't stop teenage car thieves racing each other at 100mph and killing themselves and their passengers. For that we need real police officers not gimmicks.
K. Sadler, UK

Yes, more speed cameras should be installed especially in cities and villages in order to end ruthless driving. Also I recommend installing them on traffic lights as I see far too many people jumping red lights.
Timothy Darren, UK

The huge increase in the number of speed cameras over the last few years has resulted in a huge profit increase for the police forces responsible. It is a cheap and easy way of raising cash from the already hard done by motorist. Speeding cannot be condoned, although I feel that with the lowest road death rate in Europe, using the "saving lives" pitch is a little misguided. The number of battered cars on the roads with one headlight is a joke, what are the police doing about this?
Chris, UK

I would vote for speed cameras every mile and not these ridiculous signs telling us all where they are

Edward, UK
In our democracy, Russell Long, no-one has the "right to break the law", but they do have the duty to uphold it. Speeding is dangerous and usually unnecessary, and I would vote for speed cameras every mile and not these ridiculous signs telling us all where they are so that the more moronic slow down for a few miles, and then speed even more later on.
Edward, UK

What would be better is for illuminated signs to be put in place, that light up when you are over the speed limit. They use these very successfully in Spain to great effect. If the individual does not slow down, then of course fine him or her.
Derek, ex-pat, Brazil

The idea that motorists, like myself, will "feel persecuted by the authorities" is irresponsible rubbish. If I speed and get caught, that's my choice and I accept the responsibility. Whether I agree with speed limits or not is irrelevant - how much effort does it take to slow down?
Brian Toothill, UK

I can't understand why cars are designed so that they can go faster than the speed limit anyway? What's the point of a car that can go faster than 70mph when it's illegal to do so? You might as well put machine guns on the front but say you're not allowed to use them!
J Plastow, UK

Anything which saves lives has got to be a good thing. And if you're not speeding then you've got nothing to complain about! I wish this scheme all the best.
Owen, UK

What infuriates me is when I see police hiding in bushes at 11pm with speedguns, and never around during the times school kids are walking to school

Gary Holcombe, UK
I agree that the number of people speeding has to be cut. But what infuriates me is when I see police hiding in bushes at 11pm with speedguns, and never around during the times school kids are walking to school in the mornings and evenings. Same goes for the Gatso cameras, why hide them, why not make them visible to act as a deterrent? This just spells one thing to me... money making.
Gary Holcombe, UK

Here in N. Ireland they have caught so many motorists speeding that they do not have the resources to cope with it the fixed penalty notices. The authorities have even told Traffic Wardens outside Belfast to ease up on writing parking tickets due to the backlog!
Andrea, N Ireland

More cameras and stiffer fines. Anybody caught speeding in built up areas, especially in the proximity of areas frequented by children e.g. schools, playing fields etc. should receive an automatic ban, as do drunk drivers.
Mark H, UK

Russell Long is spot on. Speed limits are there for a reason and cameras are the most efficient way to catch offenders. Interestingly, no-one has tried to defend breaking the speed limits, but rather they complain about the location of them, is this a relative of Not In My Back Yard?
Steve Hodgson, UK

It's all very well having speed cameras, but hiding them, making them appear as dull colours or hanging them out of the back of vans (like the Welsh police do) is nothing short of entrapment.
Joe Llwelyn, UK

If this is the only way to force motorists to slow down, so be it

Ken Beach, Germany
I am a great believer in keeping to speed limits, but I must confess that on returning to Britain last year, I had a very uneasy feeling at being constantly 'watched'. If this is the only way to force motorists to slow down, so be it, but on the spot fines are very effective on the continent, and at least the 'big brother' tendency can be reduced, also manifested in the 100 000 video cameras spying on the British population.
Ken Beach, Germany

So, with these so-called "self-funding cameras" are the police actually relying on a certain number of speeding offences to pay for them? In which case, are they actually endorsing speeding? To all the speeding motorists out there: keep up the good work, you're making our community a safer one.
Chris, UK

Mr Russell Long is wrong. While not arguing for one moment that you are required to abide by all speed limits and other road traffic instructions, you do have the right to question the justification for the limit, parking ban, etc. in the first place. Why is parking so rigorously controlled and banned in the UK.
In Kingston, Surrey, recently I was given a parking ticket for overstaying my welcome at a parking meter for just ten minutes. The fact was the kids had been slow eating their lunch and I had taken longer than I thought. It will be of no interest to the court to know that I had injected several hundred pounds into the local economy that morning by doing my shopping in the local stores. Basically, the local authorities are having a ball
John M. Jones, Belgium, UK

If speed cameras are to be used as a deterrent why aren't they painted in brighter colours?

Simon Evans, Wales, UK
If speed cameras are to be used as a deterrent why aren't they painted in brighter colours? There is also the issue of inappropriate speed. Most agree that speeding in urban areas is more dangerous than straight, open A-roads. So why do I see so many cameras on stretches of open road with few or no houses and no pedestrians?
Simon Evans, Wales, UK

Speeding in itself is not always the problem - tailgating at 70mph is much more dangerous than driving at 80mph on a deserted motorway. Perhaps cameras should be developed to fine drivers who do not maintain appropriate distance instead.
Peter, England

If they were used properly then I would say yes but in a lot of cases these cameras are set up in areas were it is blatantly obvious they are being used for extorting money from motorists. I have seen these cameras on long, desolate stretches of road were they can do no possible good. In built up areas they're fine but unfortunately they are often used to once again persecute the motorist.
Lee, UK

If drivers cannot use their common sense to drive at a safe speed, then they must be forced to

Susy Fowler, UK
Sadly yes we do. If drivers cannot use their common sense to drive at a safe speed, then they must be forced to. Speed cameras should however be used as a deterrent and not as a trap. What is the point of catching someone after the crime when it can be prevented in the first place? Putting cameras behind bushes etc. is ridiculous.
Susy Fowler, UK

You've only got a reason to complain about speed cameras if you're speeding. In our democracy everyone has the right to break the law, if they so wish. Speeding is still breaking the law. But if you get caught, you have to live with it. There's no point complaining. I got a parking ticket for parking in the wrong place whilst I went to get some money out of a cashpoint. I parked in the wrong place, took a chance, and paid for it. It's the way it goes. On a more vindictive note, it does give me some sordid pleasure to watch the nutter who just cut me up at 60mph get caught in the speed cameras.
Russell Long, UK

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31 Mar 00 | UK
Speed cameras go public
03 Apr 00 | Scotland
Speeders to pay the price
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