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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 09:31 GMT
Speed cameras: Effective deterrent or added danger?
New guidelines governing roadside speed cameras have been unveiled by the government with new rules on the position of camera signs as part of a drive to cut the number of accidents.

Police forces will be forbidden from putting up speed trap warning signs on long stretches of roads where there are no cameras. The signs will now have to be no more than two thirds of a mile from the nearest camera.

Transport Minister John Spellar said the aim of speed cameras was not to catch large numbers of motorists and collect more fines, but to get drivers to slow down and thus reduce accidents.

Despite plans to introduce thousands more cameras on the UK's roads, the government is worried many drivers brake suddenly when they see one.

Do you welcome the new guidelines on speed cameras? Are they already an effective deterrent to speeding or a danger to motorists?

This Talking Point was suggested by Mark Hill, England :

Does the public welcome the changes to the placing of speed cameras in accident spots only, making them visible and not allowing speed camera signs where there are none present?

If you have any suggestions for Talking Points, please click here.

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

The cameras are only placed in accident blackspots

Matt, UK
I know for a fact that the cameras are only placed in accident blackspots. I've seen the guidelines that the police and local authorities have to follow and the amount of stuff they have to produce to justify the selected site. If they don't, they haven't got any chance of getting permission to install them.
Matt, UK

Oh boo hoo, it's not fair, I was speeding and that nasty grey camera caught me. Wake up to yourselves! If one child or innocent adult has their life saved by these cameras then it is all worth it. What next? Are criminals going to complain that it's not fair they can't mug people anymore because CCTV cameras are too well hidden for them to get away with it? Pathetic. If you don't like it, take the bus.
Martin Spencer, Great Britain

Not being a driver myself, I watch others and the biggest problem with speed cameras is that once a driver knows where one is, they will slow down beforehand and then speed up once they have sufficiently passed it.
Dan, England

Speed cameras cause more danger than prevent accidents, government statistics are skewed and misrepresented to present a different story and justify the proliferation of these revenue-generating devices. If road safety is the aim, then we should be investing in better driver training, better roads and punishing the more dangerous driver behaviour.
Ed, England

Road safety is a red herring

Ken Charman, UK
Speed cameras are just one tool in a broad campaign to reduce car usage in the UK. There are other far more effective ways to improve road safety. But from the government's standpoint you can't beat a device that raises revenue at the same time as attacking motorists. I would like the government to come clean and tell us their targets for reducing car use. Road safety is a red herring.
Ken Charman, UK

If the authorities are so intent on making us stick to speed limits, then why, oh why do they refuse to erect repeater signs in 30mph zones to serve as a reminder what the limit is - especially when a limit has recently been changed downwards and the road conditions do not give any indication that the limit might only be 30mph? If these cameras were about safety then there would be clear signing of the speed limit, not the current situation where quite often we are left guessing. If they want us to obey the limit, they should make it absolutely clear what that limit is!
Peter Davies, UK

This whole debate continues to divert attention that our driving standards could very easily be improved by better driver training. Advanced training would save more lives and cause less aggro. People would enjoy driving more too!
PetrolTed, UK

Speed cameras can work, if they are used correctly, in areas with large accident rates or dangerous roads. People tend not to stick to the speed limit despite the warnings on TV. Maybe some road limits should be increased depending on the road and area.
Gemma Brown, UK

The Government is not being honest regarding accident statistics

Graham, UK
Speed cameras should only be used in areas with high accident rates. Here in Staffordshire we have roads that have not seen a serious accident in 10 years having the speed limit reduced from 70mph to 60mph and speed cameras placed on one stretch every 1100 yards. The Government is not being honest regarding accident statistics. As a recent report from the TRRL made clear, speed was not the major cause of deaths or serious injuries. People walking into the path of vehicles without looking, being drunk, or failing to take proper care were the main culprits and the vehicles that collided with them were mainly not speeding
Graham, UK

I challenge every one of the sanctimonious posters here who speak along lines of "the law is the law" and "anyone who speeds should be punished" to try driving for a whole week and not speed at all, even by 1mph. You will see how difficult it actually is and how much extra attention has to be diverted from observing the actual and potential hazards of driving!
Stuart, UK

I thought speed cameras were a way to punish people who broke the sped limit. If fines are seen as ways to raise revenue, would motorists prefer a prison sentence or community service instead?
Gill, UK

I consider myself to be a highly safe driver. In the three years since I passed I have not had even a minor accident. At first I was careful at not going too much above the speed limit, but nowadays I will go as fast as possible, as long as it's safe. When I drink I go slower, and when people say I'm taking risks I just point out that I have not had a single accident yet. Speed cameras are only necessary for the reckless drivers amongst us.
P. Chandler, Oxford, England

Surely if cars are getting more driver-friendly then speed control and detection should also move with the times

Robert Grimes, Ireland
Why not devise a system that detects how much traffic is on the road and then calculates a fare and equitable speed for offenders under those conditions. As a Porsche driver I would probably be the first to get caught under these rules, but I think it would make sense and I'm sure it would please drivers of lower performance vehicles. Surely if cars are getting more driver-friendly, with four wheel drive and traction control now standard in most new cars, then speed control and detection should also move with the times.
Robert Grimes, Ireland

As chairman of a council committee that finances the installation and maintenance of speed cameras - and gets no financial payback from them - I would like to comment on this issue. Drivers are not being victimised by the use of cameras. The only people who should be afraid of them are lawbreakers. The speed limits are introduced for a reason - usually the safety of the people who are using the roads. Drivers who exceed the speed limits are a danger to other road users, especially pedestrians and cyclists. If we want to see an end to the use of cameras the solution is to drive within the speed limits and their use will become unnecessary.
Mark F, UK

Speed cameras serve no purpose other than raising revenue, and if the truth be known, that's all they were ever designed for. It is ridiculous that because you happen to be driving at any speed over the limit you must be driving dangerously. Speed limits are purely arbitrary figures, arrived at by humans. They are not universal truths. It is possible to be driving at 55 mph in a 50 mph area and be perfectly safe. It is also possible to be driving at 40 mph in a 50 mph area and be driving very dangerously. All speed cameras do is promote the idea that the only factor that determines driving safety is speed, and as such I regard speed cameras as contributing to poor driving, not reducing it.
Simon Moore, UK

This is not about public safety on the roads, this is all about making money

Lu, Wales
Why aren't there cameras outside schools and playgrounds where they are truly needed? Instead they are placed along wide roads where there are hardly any pedestrians, knowing full well that the traffic is fast on a particular stretch of the road. The police authorities are able to keep all the revenue gained from motorists who break the speed limit by 5mph. This is not about public safety on the roads, this is all about making money. Why we allow ourselves to be bullied by the Blair regime is totally beyond me.
Lu, Wales

This discussion has boiled down to whether the present speed limits are reasonable or not. If they are, enforce the law to the full. If not, change the law.
Mark, EU

Speed cameras are no deterrent whatsoever. Invariably the cameras never catch the drivers out because they know where they are. The solution is to get rid of static cameras and introduce more traffic policemen. That will stop the speeders.
Scott Fleming, Bury, Lancashire

All speed cameras should be highly visible

Niki Cox, UK
All speed cameras should be highly visible. My father has been driving for a long time and never even claimed on insurance yet he now has 3 points on his licence since he was only 10mph + while overtaking a slower car. So the perfect driver now has three points, a fine and now much higher insurance. Why? Because he didn't see the camera or he would have overtaken later on. Also it's funny how you can damage your car on speed humps yet you can't claim from the Government, WHY NOT?
Niki Cox, UK

Niki Cox, UK: What does your father want? Sympathy? If he exceeded the speed limit then he is guilty and deserves punishment. I hope he will be more careful in future. I personally believe that cameras should be completely invisible and moved regularly. The point being that drivers should observe speed limits all the time, not just when they are more likely to be caught. Many of my friends and colleagues have been caught speeding once or twice and, as a result, are careful not to exceed the limit at any time. Surely this is the desired result?
Kulu, UK

Which is the bigger criminal: a shoplifter or burglar who endangers property or the man who endangers my children by driving dangerously fast? I'm fed up with people who think that speeding is just a technical offence and that the cameras are a breach of their civil liberties. I'm happy for them to be visible but they have been proven to save lives and I'd like more of them please.
Charles Moore, Scotland

Let's be realistic here, some people are always going to speed. Someone here suggested that the cameras should be well hidden. What a farce! What is the value in catching a speeder on camera when he goes on to run over and kill a pedestrian? Better to make them visible, put them up in real danger spots (not money making ones) to stop Mr Speeder running over or hitting anyone.
Derek Green, UK

Educating people about road safety would also be a good idea

Steve, England
Stick them where we can see them, paint them fluorescent yellow and warn us of their presence. Until they do that, I can see no other reason for putting grey cameras behind signs on motorways as anything other than a money-making scheme. Educating people about road safety would also be a good idea. I've lost count of the number of times pedestrians have stepped out in front of me without looking but I know who'd get the blame if they got knocked down.
Steve, England

I think it's a step in the right direction. For too long now, speed cameras have been used as a money making exercise. Make no mistake, speed in the wrong circumstances can kill and the cameras are a good deterrent but they should be controlled better.
Barry, England

Why only place speed limits postings within 2/3 mile of the speed camera? This doesn't make any sense. The speed cameras should be on the speed limit posts. Then there would be NO excuse for speeding drivers. This would also stop people speeding into a 30mph limit, after going much faster on a higher rated section of road.
Phil W, UK

Speed cameras are a hazard and should be outlawed

Albert, UK
Speed cameras are a hazard and should be outlawed. People who know they are there drive past with their eyes on the speedometer rather than the road. People who don't know they are there instinctively hit the brakes when they see them, no matter how fast or slow they are going. Flashes from speed cameras dazzle and distract other drivers. As a contribution to road safety they rank along with ridiculous speed bumps which encourage drivers to weave to and fro across the road.
Albert, UK

How about going one stage further and putting death tolls on road sign posts just in case people think that the worst that can happen is a fine and a few points.
Chris, UK

Whilst I agree with the requirement for speed cameras, it pains me to see them on some roads. How can they be justified on a straight stretch on an A class road where drivers are likely to overtake safely? More often than not, cameras are situated in positions where they'll simply raise money.
Simon, Edinburgh, Scotland

If people are incapable of spotting a road sign early enough, or of slowing down safely when they do so, then they are already dangerous drivers so prosecute them for that as well. If the intention is to increase safety, put up brightly coloured cameras near every school and prosecute every offender. If the intention is just to increase revenues, the police might as well carry on as they have been doing for years with no proven impact on safety improvement.
Frank, England

Every law-abiding driver has nothing to fear from speed cameras. This is not big brother nonsense - the roads are public property and it is the duty of the police to ensure they are safe.
Michael, Dublin, Ireland

Cameras placed on the motorways are only there to extract more money from drivers

David, England
Speed cameras are a good thing in built-up areas, where they may even save lives. I think the problem lies with the cameras placed on the motorways, as these are far more likely to cause an accident by sudden braking, and are only there to extract more money from drivers.
David, England

While I support speed limits in built-up areas or places with pedestrians I do firmly believe that most cameras are placed to maximise income and not to minimise accidents. We are told that accident figures have fallen where cameras are used yet no distinction is given to the affect of improved road markings or changes to road layout that often happen when cameras are installed. There is also the fact that the police have changed the way that they classify accidents when speed cameras are in the area making it look like rates have dropped when in fact they have not. If they are such a boon to safety why don't we see them outside all schools, hospitals and shopping areas?
Ian Thomas, England

This is laughable. The point of a speed camera is to make sure drivers uphold the law, that they respect the speed limit. As such, it should be okay for them to be hidden anywhere. Even better, they should not be visible at all. The system now used in France detects your speed hundreds of yards before you reach the speed gun which enables the police to arrest you if necessary. Making sure all speed cameras are visible may help prevent accidents in black spots, but it will also give a licence to drivers to drive faster and break the speed limit when they don't see a camera. I however approve the use of variable speed cameras on heavily congested stretches of road like the M25 as it is proven than moderating the traffic speed reduces delays.
Pascal Jacquemain, UK/France

I drive in excess of the speed limit but only when conditions permit. Better to do 90 mph on a deserted motorway rather than 30 mph past a school at 3.30pm.
Philip Levy, UK

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