Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBCi CATEGORIES   TV   RADIO   COMMUNICATE   WHERE I LIVE   INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC NEWS
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

SERVICES 
Thursday, 16 August, 2001, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Should there be more speed cameras?
Thousands more speed cameras are to appear on Britain's roads.

The government's allowing all police forces to spend money raised from speeding fines on new equipment.

Transport Minister John Spellar is due to say, in a scheme announced on Monday, that cameras must be made clearly visible - half-hidden cameras have been much criticised by motoring groups.

This follows a recent survey by Mori which found that seven out of 10 drivers accepted that cameras reduced crashes, saved lives and made motorists slow down.

Do more speed cameras on the roads make for safer drivers? Do they work?

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


Your reaction

It's just another example of "less of a police presence", very similar to the massive growth in CCTV in town and city centres. We need more police on the roads and on the beat, not more surveillance. This is a tax to pay for less police. There is a difference between driving fast and driving like an idiot.
Chris Newman, UK


I do feel that drivers should be warned when they are entering a speed camera area

Leon, UK
Speed cameras are a good idea, but I do feel that drivers should be warned when they are entering a speed camera area and that the cameras should be clearly visible. It would be unfair to simply catch out normally careful drivers. However, the fact remains that you need only be scared of more of these cameras if you're planning on breaking the speed limit.
Leon, UK

I have encountered a speed camera that takes photographs when no one is passing. This convinces me that there is the possibility of innocent drivers getting prosecuted.
Bish, Cardiff, UK


No one minds cutting down their speed in congested areas

Rosalie Whitehead, UK
Given the current state of our public transport system we have to use our cars. The roads are already overcrowded. Cutting down speed even further indiscriminately slows down all traffic and makes journey times even longer and roads even more congested. Let's adopt a European approach - even lower speed limits in built-up areas with cameras to enforce them; variable speed limits as M25 model or similar on major trunk roads; and motorways that are altered to ensure safe, even traffic flow, fitted to volume of traffic and weather conditions.

Has anyone looked at the accident statistics for, say, Germany with variable speed limits on autobahns? No one minds cutting down their speed in congested areas - just give us the chance to move quickly and efficiently where roads are clear, safe and well lit!
Rosalie Whitehead, UK

It's true that speed cameras save lives but they also make big bucks for the police. I think before the police erect more cameras they need to re-think the positioning of many of the current ones. There are too many cameras placed just after unclear speed limit changes and hidden behind objects such as trees and signs. Everywhere else in Europe speed cameras are painted in bright colours and placed in open positions. Even if they don't have any film, they act as a very good deterrent to speeders!
David Luck, Reading, UK


Please no more speed cameras

Ms B Goodchild, UK
Please no more speed cameras - it's as though the government is looking to extract more revenue from the poor motorists. For dangerous hotspots, yes a good idea - but this appears to be a means to increase revenue without calling it tax. NOT FAIR!
Ms B Goodchild, UK

Speeding fines are not a sinister stealth tax, they are an idiot tax aimed at those without the sense to see or the decency to care that breaking the speed limit amounts to reckless endangerment of pedestrians and other road users. As such there should be total speed camera coverage of the road network and less tolerance given to this so called victimless crime that kills children every day of the week.
Rick Martin, Manchester, UK

To have speed cameras as an effective deterrent, they need to be on every road every quarter mile, which is not feasible. Drivers who use the same roads on a regular basis know where the cameras are and slow down in all the right places. In my opinion, the majority of speed cameras are located, not at accident black spots, but on open stretches of road, hiding like a 21st century highwayman lying in wait for you.
John Mahon, UK


If over half the drivers on any section of road are going over the speed limit, it is the limit that is wrong, not the drivers.

David Bradshaw, UK
Most people break the speed limit, because in many places it is out of date. Before any new camera is put up a review should be undertaken to find out what the real safe speed for a modern car is on that section of road. If over half the drivers on any section of road are going over the speed limit, it is the limit that is wrong, not the drivers.
David Bradshaw, UK

If I am to assume that speed cameras (where used) are placed in unsafe sections of the road, then I have no problem assuming that the sections without cameras MUST be entirely safe and I can speed at my own leisure? After all, it's all about safety, isn't it?
Duncan, London, UK

Already looking forward to the day when I have to lose the additional 4 gears I have on my 5 speed box, just so I don't speed!
Neil, UK

Speed cameras save lives. The majority of motorists oppose the use of speed cameras. Just what does this tell us about the ethics of the typical motorist?
Dr D Salmon, UK

Charles, can't you see if the speed camera's are there, then the police CAN do a more worth while job catching criminals instead of sitting in their cars with speed guns.
Jim, England

As with many correspondents' views, I agree, get the priorities right. Like why is it legal to travel at 70mph on narrow country lanes, shared with people, horses and cyclists et al, while restricting many dual carriageways to 40mph - sometimes 30mph - while there are cycle paths and pavements!
Simon Mallett, UK

Despite being a driver myself, I had thought for some time how selfish most drivers are. Now the selfishness soars to new heights, as evidence shows speed cameras reduce deaths, but drivers still don't want them, preferring to get away with driving too fast to be safe, just to save themselves a few minutes every now and then. Drivers should be ashamed of themselves.
Martyn, UK

Would somebody point out to Tracy that it's not just speeding that endangers other people's lives? I've had one car accident thanks to a diesel spill and that was at 10MPH. End result was an operation, 10 days in hospital and 3 months of physio. It's not just speeding that needs to be targeted, but dangerous driving. 70MPH on a foggy motorway might be legal but it's much more dangerous than 100MPH on the same road at 3am on a clear night. Let's have more traffic police who can judge what is sensible - cameras can't. The current driving test is a joke - driving training needs to be improved massively as well.
Chris, UK

I presume all the addition revenue the police forces will be making, we will soon be seeing each regional force listed on the London Stock Exchange for all of us to have a share of their profits!.
N, England

What a lot of self-serving drivel. Cameras can't be seen? So what. No proven safety benefit? Irrelevant and misleading. Police making money out of cameras? A complete red herring - and again, who cares. The simple fact is, speed limits are statutory. We are not free to pick and choose which bits of legislation are personally convenient at any given moment, and speed limits are no exception.
Guy Chapman, UK

Anyone who has driven into London recently along the A3 MUST agree that speed cameras are a totally unfair, stealth tax on drivers. This is a major route into the capital, yet is plagued with cameras fixed behind signs, behind bridges, hidden in trees. I am all for speed reduction ideas for residential areas but come on Surrey Police - you are having a laugh! Lower the speed limit for residential roads, and allow us to drive at 90 -100 mph on safe motorways and major A-roads.
Kelly, London, UK

The powers that be would have us believe that decline in drunk driving was down to peoples changing social attitudes. This is rubbish. People don't drink and drive because they know that, if caught, they face a long ban and large fine and possible unemployment etc. The risk (for the majority) just isn't worth it. If the same punishment was introduced for speeding, we would soon see this also becoming "socially unacceptable". How many people reading this would speed if they risked loosing their license for 2 years and 700 fine? Whilst this may sound draconian, the answer would still be the same - don't speed and you won't get caught!
Roger, UK

About 10 years ago, I was regularly driving about 25,000 miles a year. There were very few speed cameras, but a lot of traffic police, who were very effective at controlling traffic speed. Now you see no traffic police, but hundreds of cameras. In my view, a camera is no substitute for a police car driving down lane one at 65mph.
Simon, UK

If you want to save lives in the UK then introduce more speed cameras - it's as simple as that.
Bill Pleace, UK


The only reason that speed cameras are hidden is to obtain money from the unsuspecting motorist

Ros P, England
I have no objection to speed control. However, the only reason that speed cameras are hidden is to obtain money from the unsuspecting motorist and thereby increase revenue for the government. If they were really there to slow down the traffic and thereby reduce accidents, then they would be visible to the driver. I agree also that something should be done about drivers, ie lorry drivers, driving so close to the vehicle in front that it is positively dangerous.
Ros P, England

I have worked in camera enforcement for 6 years. Our static cameras are not hidden and I would be happy for them to be painted luminous green if necessary, if it meant that this improved the deterrent effect they are intended to have. No one with any sense can argue against enforcing residential speed limits, and 20mph zones should be extended. Check the survival rate stats for yourself.

The selfish, arrogant and ignorant attitude of some of the contributors makes depressing reading and further underlines the requirement for these devices to save people from their own stupidity. The majority of sensible drivers will be able to get from A to B a lot safer once the "boy racers" have had their licences removed.
Camera Enforcement Officer, UK

Road safety budget expenditure should be distributed according to the causes of accidents (speed comes low on the list) and location. I agree that urban areas should have more cameras, especially around schools etc. Educating bad drivers would be more beneficial than fining those who don't spot a camera in time. What about refresher courses for all drivers over 50, every 10 years?
Andrew Martin, UK


Unfortunately most people think they are great drivers

Malcolm Parker, UK
Unfortunately most people think they are great drivers and therefore invulnerable to the accidents or injuries that befall 'other people'. It's only when an accident happens to you that you will realise how vulnerable you are. It may be years before you are involved in your accident, and it will probably be over in a few seconds and be the result of a momentary lapse. If other motorists are travelling at a slower speed because of these or any other measures then you have a better chance of surviving to enjoy the everyday privilege and enormous responsibility of everyday motoring. If the only result of your bad driving is a speeding fine then you should consider yourself very fortunate.
Malcolm Parker, UK

As a motorist, I regularly drive above the speed limit. Asked if I liked speed cameras I would probably reply that I could not stand them. However, I do realise that as long as speed limits are in place (as they are on all public roads), we are breaking the law if we do not keep within them. I have no doubt that there are many places where speed cameras have absolutely no use in reducing the number of road casualties, however as a law enforcement tool they are hugely successful.

Remember, complaining about lives not being saved is one thing, but if you regularly break the law when you drive, you (like me) should expect to be caught. Personally, I would like to see a lower 20mph residential limit, with motorways raised to 90 or 100mph.
Rasika, UK

We need more speed cameras in towns and villages, possibly in every 30 mph zone, in order to allow the non-car user a chance to live! Motorways do not require cameras as speeding on motorways is not a problem, it only affects motorists.
Ted, UK


Presumably the people arguing against are in favour of enforcing the law in other areas

William, UK
I am all in favour of as many hidden cameras as possible. The only way that speeding in general (as opposed to just around cameras) will be stamped out is if people know they have a real chance of being caught. I don't understand why people oppose this. It's only a matter of enforcing the law. Presumably the people arguing against are in favour of enforcing the law in other areas. Probably many of them favour cctv in town centres - we don't hear anyone saying it is unfair to the muggers do we?

To the "Speed doesn't cause accidents" brigade I would say that the bottom line is that the statistics plainly show that reducing speeds reduces accidents. There are many cases where accidents have been drastically reduced by the use of cameras or humps or other speed reducing measures. Finally to Ian, UK I would like to say that I ALWAYS drive at the speed limit. Yes you get hassled from behind sometimes but I would still urge everyone to do the same to do their bit to make the roads a little safer.
William, UK

The cameras do not stop tailgating or other really dangerous driving practices, particularly drink or drug driving. One in ten people under 25 who are involved in an accident are on drugs, but there are no mandatory tests for drugs unlike alcohol. There is no way that cameras are an effective replacement for police patrols on the major roads, but they are cheaper and they raise money for the local forces. Already it's a fact that constabularies set targets for speeding convictions and monies raised from them. Wake up, people - it's not about safer roads, just about more taxes for motorists.
JJ, UK

I wonder what percentage of the anti-speed camera contributors feel that way because they've fallen victim themselves? I drive around 25-30,000 miles a year in the London area as part of my job (and have done for 8 years), am very seldom late for an appointment, and adapt my driving to take into consideration the prevailing traffic conditions (which I admit sometimes means I go slightly over the speed limit). In 20 years of driving I've not had a point on my license. Cameras will only catch those who are going significantly faster that they should. Speed limits are signposted - you have the choice to keep to them or break them. If you choose the latter, don't complain when you get caught.
TB, UK

Over 330,000 people are hospitalised following a road accident in the UK each year. Just think what we could achieve if we halved that figure. Road congestion would be vastly improved as queues often have their roots in a road accident. Hospital waiting lists could be dramatically improved for all other illnesses as resources were switched away from accident and emergency departments. Car Insurance would stop its ever-upward spiral. As a car user I welcome all efforts to reduce accidents. Cameras seem to be very effective which is why they upset so many "boy racers".
Anthony, England

Speed limits exist for a reason - because they are deemed to be the maximum safe speed for traffic to flow at to prevent accidents and minimise congestion. Speed cameras need to be there because there will always be someone who reckons they know better. There should be more cameras in built-up areas where drivers regularly flout the law. However, on motorways/dual carriageways (except in town areas) it would be far better if cameras were linked to traffic flow sensors, similar to the way the variable speed limit applies on the M25. Have an enforceable speed limit when the level of traffic flow makes it sensible, but when the road is clear relax the restriction.
Andy J, UK


It is far easier to stick a camera on the road and get 500 convictions

John, UK
What people forget is speeding tickets and other traffic violations bolster the police's crime detection figures. It is far easier to stick a camera on the road and get 500 convictions, than get of your inept backside and catch a burglar!
John, UK

I don't know what other people have found but my experience is that people local to an area soon learn where the speed cameras are and hit their brakes at the last minute. These cameras cause unpredictable and unsafe driving and are just an excuse to raise money and reduce "real" traffic policing.
Ian, Birmingham UK

I think fixed cameras are an excellent idea to deter speeding, but I strongly object to hidden cameras and also mobile cameras. I think we have a right to know and see all cameras. All cameras should be clearly displayed and visible to all. There are not enough signposts clearly showing the speed limits on "B" roads. I sometimes don't know what the speed limit is, say on a dual carriageway approaching a city. If the authorities are entitled to keep the revenue from speed fines, the first thing they should do is use the resources to display clear signposts showing speed limits and then install new cameras all clearly visible.
Catherine Domican, Cardiff, UK

The current implementation of speed cameras is laughable. I rarely come across a camera that is not hidden behind a road sign or bridge and frequently see cameras on straight sections of dual-carriageway. The fact that the cameras a painted battleship grey to merge into the background tell you everything you need to know. This is all about persecuting motorists and raising funds and very little to do with road safety. Where are the cameras in residential streets, where are the cameras outside of hospitals, schools and pedestrian areas?
Ian, England

Which would most people rather see - more speed cameras catching motorists or more policemen catching criminals?
Charles, Brit Down Under

I live in a council estate and it is very common for people to be racing up and down the roads well in excess of the speed limits. I see no evidence that the police are doing anything about this, but the "easy targets" on the main roads who may step out of line inadvertently get penalised by covert cameras etc. Why not put them in residential areas as this is where more adults and children are at risk? Why not have a fine system for a first offence and then points if they are caught again within 6 months or so? If people are blatantly travelling in excess of the speed limit then fine, give them a ticket but please leave the rest of us alone!
Glenn, Middlesex, UK

All this discussion about speed cameras is worrying. Unless you intend breaking the law, what have you got to worry about?
Les, Bolton, UK

I have no objection to the police using speed cameras at accident black spots or close to schools where there is proven evidence that speed is the major reason for accidents that occur. In such cases clear signs and warnings should be placed warning drivers that cameras are in use. If drivers fail to comply they will get caught and with obvious signs and warnings police should be free to prosecute for driving without due care and attention. However, I do NOT agree with cameras on roads where there are no accident black spots.

When the original speed limits were introduced cars were much more primitive than now. Braking systems have improved and so have the stopping distances. Why is it than the speed limits are still based on data from the past? Speed cameras are not the right route and sooner or later the Government will pay the price for this policy.
Alan, Stockton, UK

Four weeks ago on a busy Saturday morning I travelled into Watford on the A41. The police were hiding behind the bushes with their radar gun. Just 800 yards further down the road, there was total chaos at crawling pace as a full set of traffic lights were out of action at one of the major junctions. Not a policeman in sight. I think we can see where the priorities lie.
Nigel Hoyle, UK

Claiming that if everyone drove within the speed limits we would save 1000s of lives is all very well, but over the past 10 years, there has been no significant change in the number of road deaths, despite the proliferation of speed cameras. That's a fact, not a hypothesis. Somehow, this has been used to convince us that speed cameras work.
Sean, UK

Excessive speed for the conditions is a factor in 6% of accidents, and that includes speeds within the speed limit. Remember that at 30mph a half second glance at a speedo you will travel almost 2 car lengths. As cameras have no safety benefits in the locations normally chosen, and the cost of processing the tickets takes up most of the cash generated, I would like to know the real reason for all the cameras. I suspect the main idea is to make life unpleasant for drivers.
Keith Walker, UK

I fully support speed cameras. However, in my opinion they should be hidden and mobile. If people know where they are, or can easily see them, then all they do is slow down to pass and then speed up until the next one. This causes a ripple effect and lots of minor accidents. On my route to work there are road works on the M25 with 50pm speed limit, and oncoming traffic separated by a line of plastic poles. People still drive at 70 (or more) except to pass the cameras.
Keith, UK


There has to be an element of common sense applied or is their use just another stealth tax?

Paul, UK
I was recently prosecuted for doing 39 mph on an empty dual carriageway at 7:20am on a Sunday morning, all thanks to a speed camera; this road was the main trunk road from the M1 into the city centre. It is the use of speed cameras in such a fashion that puts motorists against their use. In my view I have no problems with the use of speed cameras as a deterrent to slow inappropriate and dangerous driving but there has to be an element of common sense applied or is their use just another stealth tax?
Paul, UK

What is needed is to invest the revenues from cameras in safer road design especially at junctions. Better to spend money eliminating the hazard than on trying to make people aware of the hazard.
Philip, Scotland

German autobahn are built to a higher standard than our motorways - their lower death rate does NOT prove that speed does not kill.
Simon Weil, London, UK

More speed cameras in built up areas, not on the open road is a good idea. And surly the Government should allow the local police force to choose where the funds form the cameras are spent - like more police on the beat.
Rob, Sheffield, UK

As far as I can tell speed cameras encourage bad driving and catch only the unwary. In my experience it is common practice for drivers to exceed the speed limit until they see a camera at which point they break hard to avoid being photographed thus running the risk of causing an accident when the driver following them fails to react. Is it not also the case that people who regularly drive the same roads will know where the cameras are and adjust their speed accordingly? They'll speed when they know there are no cameras and slow down when they're approaching them.
Si, UK

Although I agree that some speed cameras save lives, it is obvious that many are there only to make money. Putting a speed camera on a straight piece of road where there are no junctions does little for safety. In the advanced training that I've taken, it has always been said that inappropriate speed kills not excessive speed. It all depends on the conditions at the time. Perhaps the Government should enforce further driver training and introduce re-testing. Increasing the standard of driving will reduce deaths.
David, UK

Yes - more speed cameras, BUT, they should only be installed in 30mph zones, around residential areas and town centres as well as around accident black spots. What we must remember is that travelling at high speed is acceptable when the road conditions permit - e.g clear motorways or dual carriageways. Furthermore, we must remember that travelling at low speeds can also be dangerous, especially on motorways. Any increase in the numbers of speed cameras must be discussed fully and not simply installed for political gain.
Ed Hogan, West Midlands

Dangerous and incapable drivers are far more of a danger on our roads and can be more dangerous if for example driving in the third lane of the motorway at 40 stopping on roundabouts or not realising who has right of way (basic highway code skills). What is being done to combat these drivers? You can drive at the correct speed and be far more dangerous if you do not understand the simple rules of the road
Bill, UK

Whilst I agree with speed camera at accident black spots, traffic lights etc. It is no secret that the public opinion of the police has never been lower, especially for drivers. Is it not time that the police worked with drivers rather than against them? Police should have to consult local drivers and residents before agreement can be made to erect a new speed camera. This may at least make drivers feel that they have some input rather than feeling the constant victimization of the police. One has to remember that no one is perfect and mistakes do happen. Driving consists of many skills, speeding or control of speed is but one of them.
Saul, UK

Here's a thought - we have "cameras" that display a warning if you approach a village at more than the posted limit. We also have "cameras" (SPECS) that calculate your average speed over a given distance and can issue a fine if needed. Why not tie the two together? Warn the motorist visibly that they are speeding and have been noted, if they fail to slow, issue the fine. They were warned and if they didn't slow, they deserve it. This won't happen though - soon we'll all have so many points on our licences that it will make a mockery of the whole idea!
Dave, UK

From my experience of the last few months, I have seen more accidents happen in central London due to inattentive drivers, cyclists and pedestrians than by any so-called "maniac" driving a few miles over the posted speed limit. I have seen pedestrians step-out BACKWARDS onto Shaftesbury Avenue, a woman breastfeeding in traffic on the Old Kent Rd, and a businessman reading a map with one hand, a mobile with the other, driving with his knee! These people all get away with such stupidity because they know there is no chance that anyone will see them do this. And why is this? Because every single police force in the country is gradually phasing out traffic division.

Take the emphasis off of cameras on dual carriageways and motorways, ESPECIALLY in the early hours of the morning (surely this would encourage hauliers to use roads at this time of day) and focus more on education and training. Kids, you shouldn't play near roads. Also, how about more cameras where they are SORELY needed - traffic light controlled junctions. Red lights don't mean "stop" anymore, they mean "Go on, chance it..."
Rich, London, UK

I think most people have no issue with curtailing speed in towns, near schools and at accident black spots. The problem is that speed cameras are not actively being placed in these areas. I have just returned from Spain where I drove 2000 miles on the motorways without encountering speed cameras. However, there were police checking driving (note, not just speed!) in built up areas and at road junctions. The police in this country should concentrate on bad driving in built up areas and accident black spots. Let's not have cameras on dual carriageways in the middle of nowhere or radar guns on motorways at 5 in the morning. Better still, how about getting the police to concentrate on crime in this country! Or am I being too right wing!
Brett Smith, United Kingdom

The law in this country clearly states that there are speed limits to be adhered to depending on the given situation. Why then are people moaning about the fact that they will be prosecuted should they be caught? I don't understand why there is a problem with driving within the speed limit. Either people volunteer to drive legally or the law must be enforced. Of course the best way to proceed would be to limit all cars to a maximum safe speed but then I suppose the civil rights brigade would moan that people were not free to break the law. Put the cameras up and paint them dayglo pink if needs be. But if you get caught breaking the law, accept the consequences.
Brendan MacLean, UK

These strange people who are trying to insist it has been PROVED that speed does not kill are using the same sort of demented illogic as Americans who insist that guns do not kill, it's the people who use them. Of course speed kills. If a child runs into the road and you hit it at 70, it's dead, if you hit it at 20, it could well survive. Get real you people and don't think you're such great drivers that you can handle any situation. Get those cameras rolling.
David, York, England


Speed cameras are generally a good thing

Lizz, UK
Speed cameras are generally a good thing. They do have their disadvantages though. The main problem is that they distract attention away from the road and onto the speedometer. In 30mph zones, this is not really a problem, as a quick glance down doesn't make any real difference. But there are speed cameras in places where the speed limit is 70mph, and looking at the speedometer is more dangerous, there shouldn't be any cameras. In fact, I think abolishing motorway speed limits altogether would be a good idea - people would be able to pay more attention to where they are going then.
Lizz, UK

There are two interesting statistics: We have some of the safest roads in Europe but one of the worst rates of children being run over! Maybe instead of penalising drivers we should teach our children not to play in the street.
Will, Norwich, UK

The majority of child deaths in this country are the result of car accidents where the driver has been speeding. Exceeding the speed limit in residential areas leads to death and we should DEFINITELY have more cameras up so as to deter drivers. However the very fact that we need to resort to this level is awful. Driving is a tremendous responsibility and those idiots who cannot abide by the law should have their licenses revoked. There should be a fine or points lost system it should be simple - get caught speeding, lose your license. Better that than another child killed in our streets.
Sharon B, UK


They are a money-spinner for police forces

Martyn, England
Speed cameras are all the rage because they are a money-spinner for police forces. Perhaps police forces should get money for the conviction of real criminals - then we might see a reduction in crime too.
Martyn, England

It seems to me that cameras are usually put not in the accident blackspots they are recommended for, but frequently on stretches of open road where people innocently creep over the speed limit. That's why radar detectors are becoming more and more common - to alert the innocent victims of misplaced cameras.
Louise Ayling, UK

More and more speed cameras are not a substitute for tackling the problems of bad driving on an inadequate road system. It makes it look as if something is being done when, in fact, the Government is simply avoiding spending money.
Brian, U K


If we all drove within the speed limit, 1000 lives a year would be spared

Andrew J. Chisholm, UK
A statistic I heard recently: If we all drove within the speed limit, 1000 lives a year would be spared. Arguing that you should be allowed to speed (the same as arguing against any means to enforce speed) indicates that you are happy to be part of this human cull.
Andrew J. Chisholm, UK

IF speed cameras were placed where there is a real need, and IF realistic limits were set, and IF there was consistency across the country, I would support cameras. As it is there is none of this. How much would the accident rate be affected if the money was spent on more road safety training in schools, more public information films on the TV and better road maintenance? Surely removing the cause of an accident is a more important target than lessening the effect of the accident?
Trevor, UK

Speeding motorists have resulted in chicanes, speed bumps, cameras and other calming measures which are a pain for everyone. It's quite simple really, don't speed and you don't get caught. If you think speed limits should be greater, take it up with your local council, but don't speed. There is no excuse for speeding, whatsoever. If more hidden cameras can help adjust motorists attitudes to speeding, let's do it!
Tony Weddle, UK

I'm all for more speed cameras. In Sydney, the problem lies with the media - radio stations broadcast locations of the newest speed and radar cameras, urging drivers to slow down. That just defeats the purpose - if you are moronic enough to be speeding in the first place, get caught and lose your licence! Warning louts like this just adds to the problem. On one hand the police are busting their guts trying to crack down on people who speed, on the other hand you have the media just contributing to the problem.
Sujatha, Australia


It seems that the authorities would rather collect a fine than prevent an accident

Brian Worboys, UK
With the proliferation of speed cameras the signs that used to warn of an accident black spot seem to have disappeared. It seems that the authorities would rather collect a fine than prevent an accident. So much for safety orientation.
Brian Worboys, UK

Speed cameras are fair provided the speed limit is reasonable. However, on far too many roads the speed limit is set for political reasons rather than the speed the road can actually sustain. In almost all instances 30 mph is too slow.
Carl, USA

Andrew UK, I would hope you are in favour of UK motorways becoming more like German autobahns. They have, despite their unlimited speed limits, a lower death and injury rate. Proving beyond any reasonable doubt that speed DOES NOT kill. Inappropriate use of speed however does cause death and injury but that is not a law enforcement issue, it is an education issue. It is perfectly possible to drive safely at high-speed - UK police officers do it every day.
David, UK

The problem I find with speed cameras is that you tend to look for them and by doing this you are not concentrating on the road, increasing the risk of an accident. I don't think you should be informed if you are approaching a speed camera.
Craig, England


Most of them are in the wrong place!

Tino, UK
Martin Clapham - The whole point of speed cameras is to prevent speeding. If the cameras are prominent and easy to spot it will only serve to slow down drivers when passing the cameras and then simply speed on when the threat has passed. Making sure that the camera's aren't easily identifiable will ensure that people will stick to the speed limit at all times because of the element of uncertainty. I feel you have misunderstood the reasons for speed cameras and their necessity in helping to prevent accidents.
Jim, England

Speed cameras are only part of the solution. The UK should adopt the system used in many other countries, where a chime sounds when the national speed limit is exceeded. I think that many people inadvertently exceed the limit, simply because looking down at the speedometer takes eyes off the road. At 70 MPH, even this brief glance can be enough to miss something, and end up with an accident.
John Atkins, UK

If speed cameras are so successful then let's have more of them! Also worth considering is having more signs clearly indicating the local speed limit, even showing decreasing limits every 30 miles as one leaves the motorway or approaches town as they do in France. That way there is no excuse for not knowing what the speed limit is meant to be.
Hazel, UK

In many US States the police have to provide speed advisory units when requested by three members of the public. These units display the current speed limit and your speed. These are left in an area for two weeks. Then four weeks later the police set up radar. Surely prevention and education is better than alienating the public from the police by fining without warning.
Edward Teague, UK

Spend more time fining those idiots that park in bus lanes, double yellow lines junctions, etc. If the roads flowed better, drivers wouldn't have to feel the need for speeding to make up lost time etc.
Tel, UK


If speed cameras are so successful then let's have more of them!

Hazel, UK
I'd rather see heavy penalties for tailgaters - one of whom has just written off my new car.
Kathryn, UK

I would love to see more speed cameras in town, and at accident black spots, instead of the speed bumps that allow all the fat cats in their wide cars to go as fast as they want, while I have to go at 5 MPH over them or risk having my suspension ripped off. But they should be more visible of have more appropriately placed signs so that people are not slamming on their brakes at the last minute. On places such as motorways and open roads cameras for braking distance would be far more effective at catching dangerous drivers.
Robert Powell, England

I can't believe that people are so blinkered as to believe that speed is the primary cause of accidents. Careless idiots who just pull out into traffic without looking are the real cause, but speeding is easier for the police to target which is why it gets all the attention. On motorways they should crack down on idiots who sit in the middle lane as they are dangerous and cause congestion.
Doug, UK

All the comments so far have laid the blame for accidents at the driver who is driving "too fast". But in most cases it takes two to cause an accident. Very often the driver who is speeding is the one who has priority and who hits the car or pedestrian who has actually caused the accident by being where they shouldn't be. Yes, spend money educating drivers, but also educate pedestrians, cyclists and other road users that the ALL have equal responsibility for making sure that they don't cause accidents. The speeding motorist is not the only villain of the piece.
Mark, UK

I feel that speed cameras have a place on Britain's roads, the only problem is that most of them are in the wrong place! And there is only a limited amount of places that they are needed
Tino, UK

Everyone on this page whingeing about "stealth tax" and secret revenue building - well, boys (and I bet they all are boys), the answer is simple. DON'T BREAK THE LAW. You all seem to think that you are better judges of what is a safe speed than the people who set the speed limits - umm, I don't think so. Rather smacks of the cat guarding the canary. Accept it and move on. In any case, as has been proved on the M25 and the occasional lower speed limits, slower speeds mean fewer bottlenecks which means fewer traffic jams which means... do I have to spell it out? I vote for digital speed cameras, hundreds and thousands of them, all working 24/7 sending instantaneous details via modem. O, and I ride a motorbike and drive a car.
Edward, UK

If the law listened to half the 'citizens' on here then we'd be looking at a situation where each person would decide what speed is right for the road, every road would become an autobahn and more people would be killed. But every day I see the actions of drivers who speed and tailgate others that dare to drive at the speed limit - they wouldn't care less. My message - stop breaking the law.
Andrew, UK


If you can't drive in accordance with the rules, you should walk

Pete, UK
If a sign says 30, accept it and drive at 30. It's all very well saying "let drivers use their own judgment", but regrettably a large number of drivers think that it's perfectly safe for them to drive at 60mph in a 30 zone. Are we supposed to say "oh well, they judged that they could do that, so we can't complain"? Even if the limits are "arbitrary", people should have the intelligence to realise that there is a reason for the limits. If you can't drive in accordance with the rules, you should walk.
Pete, UK

Speed cameras are a bad idea. If you are driving the posted speed limit of 55mph and everyone else is driving 70mph, you are the greatest threat on the road. Yet the speed camera would ticket someone who is moving at the speed of traffic. Speed limits are ridiculously low and have not been updated since the 70's. Cameras cannot use judgement to see if someone's speed is dangerous or a threat to other drivers. Only a police officer can make that sort of judgement. Now cameras for running red lights is another thing. That's just dangerous no matter what. Put cameras at traffic intersections instead.
Jordan Medeiros, USA

What I've found personally is that speed cameras that point forward make me slow down. The idea being that you are timed between 2 different cameras, at different points on a road and your average speed is calculated. They are far better than the 'ordinary' cameras that do nothing for road safety.
Ian, UK


We should have to prove competency to drive on a regular basis

Mark, UK
Most police officers will tell you that speed in itself isn't dangerous, it's the INAPPROPRIATE use of speed that is the problem. Using speed cameras to enforce limits is a an easy political option. We really need to tackle all the issues relating to poor driving such as tailgating, inattentiveness, use of mobile phones, aggressive driving and so on. The driving standards need to be much tougher, even to the extent of having licences taken away from people before they commit offences or have accidents. We should have to prove competency to drive on a regular basis. Pilots have to do this, why not drivers?
Mark, UK

The statement which introduced this conversation thread is derived from yet more mis-information released by this government who seek to establish support for their unfair revenue generating schemes by incorrectly reporting that this is what the people want. One look at the entries contained here will prove to any doubters that this is not what people want at all!
Ed, England

The next time you see a section of road where the speed limit has changed from 70mph to 50mph and fresh new cameras are installed, it will be pretty clear what their real purpose is. Law-abiding drivers today are being made to become socially unacceptable drivers tomorrow - all for the sake of revenue. And what about new roads that have cameras from day one? Shouldn't the road planners be prosecuted for building an obviously "faulty" road? Let's make sure they are only used in the real accident blackspots from now on, so we don't all lose what little respect for cameras we have.
Jonathan, United Kingdom


The day will shortly arrive when these expensive speed cameras will be destroyed by disgusted motorists

KB, UK
In a democratic society such as our own, does the fact that a vast majority of a nations citizens willingly and openly break a law (speed limit) call into doubt the validity of that law? The point in a democracy is that the government rules with the consent of the governed. Why not put a box on our road tax reminders asking if we want more speed cameras? If not, the government does not have our consent! The day will shortly arrive when these expensive speed cameras will be destroyed in their hundreds by disgusted motorists (citizens).

As to those who tow the 'don't speed, don't worry' line, I'll expect you to be out of your local not a minute later than 11:20, and don't dare sip a drink or adjust your radio whilst driving - that would be reckless - and stay out of the middle lane!
KB, UK

As a car driver I hate speed cameras with a vengeance, but they are the only deterrent that works. I would like to see a great increase in visible speed cameras as these reduce injuries on the roads. I would suggest that the money raised from fines be used to improve the roads and public transport, as car drivers are paying far too much in road and fuel taxes.
Rob, N. Ireland

The Government's own figures show that only around 6% of accidents are caused primarily by drivers exceeding the posted speed limits. The rest are caused by plain bad driving. Speed has been demonised, with the result that numerous bad drivers smugly assume that they are 'safe' drivers simply because they stick to the posted limits, despite the fact that they tailgate, undertake, pull out without looking, use mobile phones, and sometimes drive too fast for the prevailing conditions. If cameras were placed in areas of high risk I would be delighted, but they are not. They are hidden in areas where there can be no other reason for their existence except as a revenue generator. As a result the speeding laws have already fallen into total disrepute.
Kate Corwyn, England


Dual carriageway and motorway speed limits should be increased

Chris, England
Modern cars are faster and safer with better brakes than the cars that were around when certain speed limits were introduced. Dual carriageway and motorway speed limits should be increased, and the law relaxed on these roads. Speed cameras in accident black spots are fine, but when there is a 40mph zone with a camera in the middle of a nowhere on a wide open road then surely this is just revenue building? Why don't the police think about re-jigging the whole system rather than just introducing more cameras?
Chris, Warrington, England

It has been proved time and again that speed does not kill, it is going too fast for your own ability to drive. Everyone thinks that they are the world's best driver. The police should deal with "dangerous" drivers not "fast" drivers. A cyclist doing 15mph can easily cause a crash by not being careful. Speed cameras should only be put in black spots, outside schools etc and be painted in bright colours so everyone can see them from a long way off and not have to slam their brakes on as they approach them. The anti-driver lobby should think what would happen if the police decided that crossing the road anywhere except in designated areas became illegal. How many of them would stick to the law and always use crossings? Please less hypocrisy, scare-mongering etc and a little more thought.
Vishal Vashisht, UK


I tend to watch the speedometer more than the road

Jason Townsend, UK
My main concern with speed cameras is that once I enter an area containing them I tend to watch the speedometer more than the road. In the event that a child was run in front of your car which would be the worst scenario for the child, to hit them at 30 mph because you were watching the speedometer not the road, or to hit them at after breaking from say 33 mph because you were watch the road rather than the speedometer? We need to control speed better especially in built up areas but I don't believe speed cameras are the safest answer.
Jason Townsend, UK

If you do not speed then what is to worry about? Anything that can cut down on bad or dangerous driving is welcome in my book. I hate those jerks that tailgate you on a 30 MPH stretch of road. Also gadgets to warn drivers about speed traps should be illegal to sell and possess. If you have a device to warn you of a speed trap, that can only mean you intend to speed before and after the speed trap. I would welcome more patrol cars or more cameras.
Joe Hall, UK

I am so sick of the " I'm alright Jack " attitude of drivers in this country. The immature desire of so many drivers to speed is staggeringly pathetic. Speeding costs innocent lives. It is as simple as that. What is more important, a human life or a childish need to pretend your are a racing driver? Drivers who feel the need to break the speed limit should get a grip, grow up and show some consideration for other people. It is breaking the law, if you do it, accept the consequences. In other words, grow up and take responsibility for your actions. More speed cameras please. With a view to removing all these idiots from our roads, making them a safer place.
Stuart, Scotland

I look forward to when everything is cameras and there are no traffic police. Then I can cover my number plates with mud, the cameras will not recognise me, and there will be no police to tell me to clean my plates. More seriously, evidence shows that conspicuous cameras reduce speeding more that hidden ones, and that is the purpose of these cameras. Hidden cameras are used to make money, not slow drivers down.

What happens when we all start driving at the correct speed limit? The revenue from the cameras drops to zero, and the taxpayer ends up paying for a load of cameras that never get used. More police in cars is the only way to go - stop all sorts of dangerous driving, not just speeding which in many cases is not dangerous.
James Hughes, UK

I am a professional truck and bus driver, and my view is that rigid speed limits are dumb. I have always driven and will continue to drive according to the conditions on the road and the amount of other traffic present. I have financed my degree in computing science by doing the driving job during the last 4 years, and I have noticed that as soon as the police were allowed to keep some of the money collected in fines for themselves, not only one can see them driving around our housing estates in Mercedes and BMW cars, but also they started to actively clobber people with fines whenever their coffers became exhausted by extravagant purchases. Do they really need fancy cars to do their job ?

As for the point made by the chief constable on the Radio 2 on Thursday about the figures showing that speed cameras save lives, I am aware that statistics is what one wants to use it for, and it would not be the first time that people in power con the public into accepting some proposal while using suitably adjusted statistics to make their point. As for me, I remain very sceptical.
Roman Olejniszyn, Scotland

Using speed cameras is all well and good so long as it is part of a wider strategy. To this day I have never seen a camera outside a school, hospital or old peoples home but I have seen them hidden behind obstacles on steep hills and dual carriageways! Much like the speed bumps that have become a landmark in many of our towns all they do is cause danger as those who travel the roads regularly slow down and then accelerate away afterwards and those who don't know about them slam on their brakes!

Local authorities are spending so much money and time on these cameras that they are forgetting the real problems of people not wearing seatbelts (back and front), passing on the inside on motorways and general disregard for the rules of the road.
Alex Bailey, UK

Has anybody tried driving around at exactly on the speed limit. The bullying tactics of other road users is incredible. Tail-gaiting, dangerous overtaking, you feel really, really pressurised into going faster and this is in areas where speed cameras are prevalent.
Ian, UK

The comments from some people that they are better qualified than the authorities to determine the safe speed at which to negotiate a particular section of highway is simple minded arrogance! What these people fail to appreciate is that the speed limit has to take into account driver reaction times (some of these people would be shocked at how slow their reactions are!), winter driving conditions and other road users such as cyclists.

Also, if speed limits on motorways are increased, I believe that once people have shortened their commuting time they will be loathe to increase it to allow for poor winter driving conditions. I say bring on the hidden cameras - if people choose to break the law they should be adult enough to "pay up and shut up!"
Russ F, USA (ex UK)

I was fined for speeding along a dual carriagwway travelling at 61mph instead of 60mph. Yes I did technically break the law but do I present such a dangerous threat compared to an uninsured and banned driver responsible for road deaths? Putting up more cameras is going to prove counter productive. Public opinion is divided as to the effectiveness of cameras. More people are likely to be killed in urban areas where hardly any cameras are placed. Yet along motorways and dual carriageways, cameras are springing up everywhere. To me, it sounds like an excuse for the government and police to print more money without catching any real dangerous drivers who are responsible for a majority of inner town/city road deaths.
Bob, UK

Cycling along a busy A-road to work, I fully agree with the need for clearly marked, visible cameras to control people's speed. The myth of responsible driving has been totally exploded for me because sadly there's a significant minority of drivers who speed regardless of road conditions or the presence of people (or cyclists!) on the road. In the real world, it's just not feasible for the Police to monitor roads in any other way due to lack of manpower and resources
Simon Coulthard, Cirencester, UK

Those people who think we need more speed cameras to reduce accidents are, by and large, ignorant on what the causes of road traffic accidents are. Speed by itself isn't a danger. What is a danger is people driving dangerously. Not leaving an appropriate gap between themselves and the vehicle in front, not allowing enough time to slow down when approaching traffic lights or junctions, overtaking without thinking about oncoming traffic. These are just a few of the things that need to be addressed, i.e., driving skills. The other important thing is vehicle safety. Cars need to be made more safe. ABS brakes, for example, should be MANDATORY on all new vehicles. My point being there are far worse and more dangerous things about road traffic that people should be looking at, rather than just focusing on speeding.
Phil, UK

Yes, more cameras please - after all speeding is breaking the law. But more speed limit reminder signs too, so the 'I didn't see the sign' excuse is no longer usable.
Alison, UK


If you build cars that are designed to go fast, people will speed

Mark R, UK
Look, if you give someone a gun they will shoot it, if you build cars that are designed to go fast, people will speed no matter how many cameras or speed bumps there are, unless you cover every stretch of road in the world. Build cars that can only travel at the speed limit of the area they are in, take the temptation away, no speeding then, ever! Plus far less loss of life, but no, no one would ever agree to a 'radical' solution like that!
Mark R, UK

Speed limits are set arbitrarily by the authorities, not by any scientific method, and as such should only act as guide. Cameras do not and cannot in any accurate way, determine other road conditions which may or may not make it perfectly safe to exceed the speed limit. Cameras should therefore be removed altogether and a traffic only police force set up to control all aspects of driving.
Geoff, England

Speed cameras are evil devices that promote inattentive and robotic driving. Drivers should be encouraged to use their own judgement to decide what speed is safe on a given road for given conditions, not the number on a sign post.
Alex Roebuck, England


I agree with highly visible cameras in accident black spots

Tony England
I agree with highly visible cameras in accident black spots to reduce accidents and in fact these should be placed on all traffic lights in order to catch those who indulge in the extremely dangerous practice of jumping red lights. However, simply relying on cameras to monitor speeding drivers rather than improving driving standards (which the old-fashioned traffic policeman did when he stopped a driver) is now missing, as the police forces reduce the number of traffic police on the roads. Additionally, cameras take no account of time/conditions of the road, as at certain times of the day a speed limit may be artificially low (ie 30mph dual carriageway at 05:00 hours).
Tony, England

The argument that hiding speed cameras is entrapment is nonsense. If you are breaking the law, you can't complain if the law is enforced - you don't get bank robbers complaining because the bank had hidden cameras!
Andy Pryke, UK

If speed cameras were truly being used to target danger, they would be almost exclusively in areas where speeding is most dangerous - urban and village 20mph and 30mph zones. Were there to be a proliferation in these areas, I don't see much opposition coming from anyone, even the disproportionately powerful road lobby in this country. They will, however, almost certainly be used the same way they have so far - as revenue generators in 50mph and 60mph zones and motorways. Used like that they will remain deeply unpopular, and have little or no effect on road safety.
Adam, England


It's just another hidden tax on the poor motorist

Mike, UK
It's just another hidden tax on the poor motorist. Canada has now removed all of its speed cameras, as police have lost the respect of people who don't want to help them anymore. I agree that cameras are probably needed in built up areas where accidents are likely but I can't see what the point of those new ones on the M6 is except for raising money. It wouldn't be so bad if real crime was falling as a result of the new police revenue stream. Incidentally I have a Morpheous Geodesy which warns me where the camera is a mile before I get there so I can slow down more safely.
Mike, Harefield, UK

I believe the time has long gone when cameras were only used at accident black spots - they are now mainly used to raise revenue. Recently whilst improving a 2-mile stretch of the A12 near Brentwood in Essex I believe I counted 22 working cameras. At certain times of the day these cannot be justified.
Chris, UK

Hidden cameras are a good idea in built up areas as long as there are signs advertising the fact, this would mean drivers would know they are there and adhere to the speed limit throughout the stretch of the road instead of learning where the cameras are and speeding in between.
Will, UK


Cameras shouldn't be obvious because people shouldn't be speeding anyway

Tracy, England
It makes me mad when people complain about speed cameras - if you DON'T SPEED, you won't get caught. It's people who break the speed limit who endanger others' lives. I think there SHOULD be more speed cameras and they shouldn't be obvious because people shouldn't be speeding anyway.
Tracy, England

A government-sponsored review found that excess speed contributed to only 5.5% of road accidents. This suggests that the majority of accidents are caused by people who simply cannot drive safely. Also, here in Plymouth there are about 40 cameras. Only 3 have been painted in the new high visibility colours. The rest are lurking behind bushes, half way down steep hills etc. None are outside schools or playgrounds etc. Why?
Dominic, Plymouth, UK

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Links to more Talking Point stories