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Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 10:36 GMT
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Innocent human life versus an immature desire to drive a car fast.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!!
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!
If the pilot scheme has reduced accidents by 50%, there can hardly be an argument against them.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
Speed kills and speed limits are there to be observed. It is dangerous, arrogant and selfish of
drivers to ignore them
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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 signs...no.They 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!
Why not cameras in the fronts of buses to catch motorists who use bus lanes?
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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?
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!
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
07 Feb 01 | UK
Speed camera scheme 'saves lives'
31 Mar 00 | UK
Speed cameras go public
28 Jul 00 | UK
Speeding clampdown nets thousands
03 Apr 00 | Scotland
Speeders to pay the price
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