/ Motoring

Best comments: Are you for or against speed cameras?

Speed camera sign on road in Scottish highlands

Speed cameras – you either love ’em or hate ’em. The debate, started by motoring expert Richard Headland, fired you all up. Now it’s time to read the best comments and vote in our poll – for or against speed cameras?

Speed cameras have clearly polarised opinion. Richard’s article sparked a heated debate, leading to over 200 comments.

Many of you felt speed cameras did nothing for road safety, but others said it was madness to turn them off. So here’s a selection of the best and a poll to decide once and for all – should speed cameras stay or go?

Arguments for speed cameras

Peter Vaughn: “I have rarely heard anything so stupid as getting rid of speed cameras. They are proven in independent research to cut down accidents and deaths in particular areas – so are we expecting boy racers and others idiots on our roads to automatically slow down when requested to do so? You must be joking. The only reason they slow down is because of the fear of a fine and points on the licence.”

R Fletcher: “Speed limits are already widely ignored. Removing cameras can only make it worse, and will give those addicted to speeding the feeling that the authorities don’t really care.”

David Wilson: “I wish, I wish… that there were more speed cameras. Clearly the proceeds from the fines should go to local councils, not only to help them in their own traffic management, but also to encourage them to install more.

“As a resident of Brighton I am fed up with motorists speeding along the seafront – this is MY seafront, with MY family and friends and their children […] crossing the road to get to the beach.”

Kevin: “What is wrong with this nation? We don’t want ourselves or our families put in danger by selfish drivers driving at excessive speeds, yet we want the freedom to drive at speeds far in excess of the legal limit! I think the truth is we all break speed limits and we don’t like being caught. Only way to avoid fines and penalties is not to speed. We should not turn cameras off.”

Justin Cooper: “Before I retired I was responsible for, among other things, where cameras went in my council’s area. It is a fact that all the cameras I had put in place were at sites that had an accident record. At these sites, the number of accidents after […] went down.

“It would be much better if cameras were hidden but only at spots that are genuinely known to be dangerous. That should be in parallel with a general (upward) review of most speed limits; e.g. m’ways to 80mph.”

Arguments against speed cameras

CW (in reply to Justin Cooper): “Of course accidents went down, you waited until there had been an unusually high number of accidents! If you’d stuck a garden gnome beside the road, accidents would have gone down.”

dabhand16: “If safety cameras were only used in accident black spots where speed was a factor in the majority of the recorded accidents they would be accepted more. It has been established that many are sited in locations where there were few accidents.”

Andy Hale: “I’ve never been ‘done’ for speeding, but I loathe speed cameras. I feel intimidated by them and I’m glad that for 15 years up until last September I lived in North Yorkshire where there are none. Whenever I travelled to other parts of the country I felt I was under big brother type observation.”

Sharon Metcalfe: “Get rid of speed cameras. They are just there to make money that never even gets ploughed back in to repairing local roads.

“All speed cameras do is make you look down at your speedo to check that you are exactly at the speed or under it. Braking to get to the correct speed is downright dangerous.”

Keith: “I am ex traffic cop and now voluntarily survey speed limit orders as we all should. The assumption that they are there for a reason is false. Most of the orders I have on file are totally arbitrary, unscientific and have no accident history attached. Neither are the police instrumental in setting them. As a result most speed limits […] are in fact for no apparent reason at all and most are totally inappropriate.”

Adam Sanders: “If we continue to dumb down the motorist and tell them what to do, they will concentrate less. Speed humps, traffic lights, cameras, even signage not only distract but actively discourage them from concentrating on driving.

“It’s time we started to give people (and drivers) some credit for their intelligence. Only then will we see some real reduction in road traffic accidents.”

Read the original article and all comments on the speed cameras debate here.

Are you for or against speed cameras?

Against (53%, 425 Votes)

For (47%, 382 Votes)

Total Voters: 807

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Hi guys looking for a bit of advice I had came across a cctv unit but had so signage to say it is a speed camera van? Had a window at the back but wasn’t open. Also to add had no engine running, what are the chances this was out trying to catch motorists

Paul – It’s impossible to say without conducting a realistic test. Did you do that, just for reassurance?

Speed camera vans don’t usually advertise themselves very prominently; they tend to have innocuous wording on them along the lines of “Somewhere Road Safety Partnership” but could be completely unmarked.

I don’t think they try to catch genuine motorists, who are well-known to obey the Highway Code at all times, but they certainly try to identify bad drivers and penalise them.

There is no need for the engine to be running when a speed camera van is in use and although the window covering the camera is usually open when in use, that does not seem to be essential.

All the speed camera vans I have seen have been conspicuous, but helpful oncoming drivers flashing a warning might distract your attention.

All the speed camera vans I have seen have been conspicuous, but I might not have seen those that were not conspicuous and lurk under the trees over the crest of a hill where the speed limit changed from 60 to 50 mph.

Out local white speed camera van parks on the grass verge, black inside so you cannot see the camera, no warning sign. It catches speeding motorists on a residential – one side – rural road. I don’t think it is a bad thing. We should observe the speed limit for the safety of others and to mitigate the harm if their is an accident, particularly involving pedestrians.

I was once told that motorists warning oncoming motorists was an offence. Is that the case?

A lot of rural main roads in our part of the country have multiple changes of speed limit as they pass through settlements and villages, so along a twenty mile stretch of road the limit can go up and down quite frequently with 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 mph limits but their transitions are not uniform and there is a lack of repeater signs. This gives rise to many complaints, mainly from people saying the limits are generally too low. But residential areas do need protection from speeding vehicles so that people can go about their normal activities relatively safely. Returning home along one such single carriageway road recently as it was getting dark, and with no street lighting, poor road markings and missing cats-eyes, it was patently obvious why the limits were set as they are. In daylight visibility is good, but after dark it is bad because of the nature of the road, the level of traffic and the surrounding countryside; and there were not many opportunities to drive on full beam. It would be impractical to have different speed limits for daytime and night-time so, for safety’s sake, the lower limit must prevail.

I welcome the progressive decrease in speed limit approaching a village because going straight from a 60 to 30 mph limit can result in sudden braking or people not starting to slow down until they reach the 30 sign. What annoys me most is long stretches of road that have no repeater signs to show whether the limit is 30 or 40 mph. If I am not familiar with an area the sat nav can fill in the missing information.

Some villages have two warning signs that you are approaching a 30m/h limit. They work well for me and seem more sensible than actual decreasing speed limits. The cost of setting a new speed limit seems excessive; a 30 limit on a road near mine was extended by 100yards It cost £10 000 to implement, I was informed, mostly in legal costs in publicising the proposed change.

Many speed limits on rural main roads in Norfolk drop from 60 to 30 mph with about 200 yards visibility in good daylight.

The cost of making and giving statutory notice of traffic orders has sometimes been cited as the reason for not making a change. At about £300 – £500 per sign installed [which can sometimes be reused elsewhere] and about £100 for a painted roundel on the carriageway the physical infrastructure is relatively economical.

I have occasionally attended the county council highways committee meetings and heard lengthy debates about these things. Even the highways engineer’s reports to the committee run to several pages including description, consultation results, cost estimates for implementation, maps, and other formalities.

While there are not many pot holes on Norfolk’s roads, and there has been a £60 million resurfacing and improvement programme, the placement and condition of signage leaves much to be desired.

Do speed camera vans operate at night? The national lockdown and the upcoming second and third tier movement restrictions should have a beneficial effect on road safety and reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths. Single vehicle collisions with immoveable objects like trees account for more deaths on the roads than other causes in our county.