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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July 2005, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Specs spies on speeding motorists
Specs camera and passing car
The new cameras will cover a 28-mile stretch of the A77
A new kind of speed trap is to be launched in a bid to cut deaths on one of Scotland's most dangerous roads.

The Speed Enforcement Camera System (Specs) will track drivers over a 28-mile length of the A77 and calculate their average speed.

The stretch of road between Ayr and Girvan is an accident blackspot with 15 fatalities and 314 accidents between 1999 and 2004.

It was officially launched on Thursday with speeders facing various penalties.

Those caught out by the Specs systems could end up having three points added to their licence and a fine of at least 60.

The primary aim of the safety cameras is to influence driver behaviour and to improve safety along the route
Neil Macgillivray
Strathclyde Speed Camera Partnership

The 775,000 initiative consists of 40 banks of hi-tech cameras at points between Bogend Toll, north of Ayr, to Ardwell, south of Girvan and is the largest in the UK.

The cameras are due to go live later in the month.

They have already been dubbed "yellow vultures" by drivers in England, where they are currently operating, because of their colour and the way they are perched on gantries above motorists.

Instead of taking the usual snapshot of a driver as they pass one fixed point they measure the time it takes a vehicle to travel between various points allowing the system to calculate its average speed.

Speed control

The new system is the first major initiative to be implemented from a wider 20m programme of engineering improvements and education initiatives, as well as a driver and community awareness publicity campaign.

The Ayrshire pilot scheme will be assessed after a year and if considered a success, it could be rolled out in other areas.

The project is being operated by the Strathclyde Speed Camera Partnership, a joint initiative by police and local authorities.

Specs cameras
The cameras have been dubbed "yellow vultures" by English drivers

Spokesman Neil Macgillivray said the aim was to encourage drivers to slow down and thereby cut the number of accidents.

He said: "The system will be launched with a great deal of publicity and there will be advisory signs to remind drivers that they are in a speed controlled zone.

"The primary aim of the safety cameras is to influence driver behaviour and to improve safety along the route.

"Catching increased numbers of speeding motorists is not the aim."

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson officially unveiled the new cameras on Thursday and said the Scottish Executive was "determined" to improve safety along the A77.

'Overall strategy'

Ms Jamieson said: "I am convinced that the installation of Specs along this route can play an important part in our overall strategy to improve road safety on the A77 and will encourage better driving right along the route.

"Let no one be in doubt - excessive speed is the cause of too many injuries and deaths on our roads."

Road safety campaign, the A77 Safety Group, welcomed the scheme and thought it would improve conditions on the road.

The leader of South Ayrshire Council Andy Hill, which is part of the group, said: "The installation of this new camera system is, without doubt, an important step forward in improving safety on the A77.

We need to look at the underlying causes of accidents and ask whether there could be other factors
Kevin Delaney
RAC

"Any initiative which can help to reduce the number of such accidents is to be wholeheartedly welcomed."

The AA also supported the measure but only as a temporary solution until new and safer junctions are built.

However, some motoring groups claim it will not make any difference.

A spokesman for the Association of British Drivers said the cameras could actually make the road less safe because drivers would concentrate more on speed than what was happening on the road.

And the RAC questioned whether speed was the real problem.

Its head of traffic and road safety, Kevin Delaney, said: "We need to look at the underlying causes of accidents and ask whether there could be other factors, such as line of sight at junctions.

"If speed is not the main problem, then you end up with more cameras generating more fines, more disgruntled motorists, but still the same number of crashes."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the cameras and how they will work



SEE ALSO:
Appeal made to speeding drivers
31 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Road safety message driven home
09 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Safety campaign for danger road
03 Mar 05 |  Scotland
A77 speed net extended by police
31 Jan 05 |  Scotland


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