/ 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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pickle says:
15 August 2010

Convincing arguments for and against! We were a law abiding nation – once – and given proper moral guidance, we could be again.
On balance, I am against speed cameras – motoring is a serious job and drivers have a dangerous weapon in their hands. Any car – or lorry – can cause grevious harm in the wrong hands. All the more reason to improve driving instruction in the first place.
There is no such thing as an accident


I completely agree with Pickle. except that driving instruction per se does not make good drivers. There are far too many bad drivers – usually those that don’t read the speed signs that are on all major roads close to the speed cameras.- They tend to ignore their driving instructions after a few weeks after their test.

paul says:
21 January 2011

‘pickle’ has it right; better driver training. The air is a very much safer place in which to travel than roads – no one has yet ever crashed with the sky!, but pilot training is very much more disciplined and extensive than that for student car drivers. I recall my youngest daughter learning to drive and on returning home from a driving lesson with a local school, she told us how her instructor had told her that he thought that he ‘could soon get you (her) through’. I told her that I was not happy for her ‘to get through’: I wanted her to be so thoroughly profficient that she would stay unhurt and alive. I took over her tuition and persevered until I knew she would be a safe and confident driver. From the point where she was talking of ‘getting through’ to when she passed the test was, for her, a rather disagreeably long few months! She’s enjoyed a safe, accident-free Twenty years or so now.
Message! – Get rid of all the ‘Safety’ nonsense, including cameras and start making people aware of the value of their own self-preservation by thorough, disciplined driving tuition.
But of course, if we all drive so safely – not necessarily slowly, REVENUE will diminish and that says it all?

1.Cameras criminalise the ordinary motorist for a simple mistake, often in non hazardous places.
2. No one is prepared to spend money to modernise the system.
3. Idiots need to be caught.
4. Roads are congested.
5. Cameras are the only solution on offer. They are ugly, as are the signs that accompany them.
6. Humans in authority should set realistic speed limits and review those in their patch regularly. They should listen to what the motorist has to say now and then.
7 Gone are the joys of the open road. Society has gone into reverse. How sad.
8 Keep enforcement cameras in places where they matter.
9. Police should set an example at ALL times.
10. Fit sensible, variable limits to all motorways. Ensure everyone keeps to them.

Allan33 says:
25 August 2010

Cameras DO NOT “criminalise” motorists. It is a motoring offence, NOT a criminal offence. But I have little doubt that you know that anyway. And what constitutes a “simple mistake”? And how do YOU know that they are “often in non hazardous places”?

Cameras are set to trigger at 10%+2mph above the given limit – ie 35mph in thirty limits, 46mph in forty limits and so on – and the average speed of people caught speeding in 30mph limits, for example, is 39mph (source: Roadsafe), and 85% of people caught were driving at 37mph or more (source: ACPO).

As for “non hazardous places”, just about all cameras in use today are only there because there were four (or more) fatal or serious injury crashes in the three-year period prior to the installation of the camera, because THEY were the criteria set by the DfT (as of since the commencement of the Safety Camera Partnership programme back in 2002).

And what do you mean that: “Cameras are the only solution on offer”? Would you mind elaborating?

As for cameras being ugly, have you written to your local Partnership to ask them if they can beautify them? Or hows about we hide and conceal them all……….

And when you say: “Gone are the joys of the open road”, what do you mean exactly?

And ditto: “Police should set an example at ALL times”.

Shot down in flames…well, maybe it will teach me a lesson or two. I bow to your superior knowledge on information from ACPO and Roadsafe. However, I’m not the only one to believe that some cameras – not all – are there with an eye to the revenue they produce. Of course I can’t give you chapter and verse and this is debatable. So, yes, you are correct to shout at me for making this generalisation. I don’t totally withdraw it. Nor the idea that individual authorities can set their own flash points and it is not a good idea to rely on any formulae to avoid being caught. I keep to the limit.

Like most humble mortals I get my motoring wrong now and then. I try and drive sensibly and carefully, but inevitably there have been times when the car has gone faster than I wanted it to. I correct this. Do I slam on the brakes when I am surprised by a thirty limit round the bend? No, I let the car slow down naturally and then keep to the limit. Usually, I’m there abouts before hand anyway. A simple mistake can, of course be serious, but I was drawing a distinction between those who deliberately set out to ignore the rules and those who transgress by accident. Again, perhaps you were right to critisize this generalisation.
As far as I know, no one has produced any deterrent alternative, since speed cameras were introduced. Speed bumps, chicanes etc reduce speed, but there hasn’t been any attempt to improve devices that produce penalty points on the licence. To enlarge on my generalisation, I should say, Speed cameras are the only solution on offer, so until something better comes along, that’s what we have to put up with. They are undoubtedly ugly – made of angle iron and protruding onto the road. I remember when they and their accompanying signs hit the streets. They made an unpleasant addition to the road side. They emphasize the nature of their job, as prison bars emphasize the nature of jail. I have no suggestions about improving them, but that doesn’t stop them being an eyesore. Perhaps that’s what the designer had in mind.

What else? I enjoyed motoring when I was younger. I still enjoy driving, but think twice about going out just for fun. Apart from the cost, motoring and public transport are now a means to an end. Perhaps you are too young to have enjoyed honing skills on a twisty road whose speed limit was that of the car and common sense.

I have two examples of police coming past me at higher speeds. On one occasion I joined them in the same cafe ten minutes later, the other, the biker passed me. I speeded up, he speeded up and I let him go. He was filling his tank at the garage when I passed him. There have been others, but none with any reliable proof. As I have said elsewhere, the police have a job to do, but they have no business to drive faster just because they can.
I hope you will appreciate, that this space is set aside for ideas and conversation. It’s a chance for ordinary mortals to think out loud. I’ve enjoyed doing that, but thanks for the challenges, they’ll make me think a bit harder before I write, and that’s no bad thing.

Allan33 says:
31 August 2010

How can cameras be there to raise revenue? Are motorists FORCED to speed. As for the trigger speed I mentioned before – ie the 10%+2mph threshold – I can assure you it is universal. It is the guideline recommended by ACPO when the Safety Camera Partnership programme first started back in 2000/2001 (prior to that, the trigger speed was set at between 10 to 20mph above the posted limit). The point is that ACPO – being pragmatic and realistic – realised of course that motorists could, and would, slip over the limit now and again, and THAT of course is the reason why they made an allowance for that happening.

Don’t believe what you read in your daily newspaper (most of them have an anti-camera agenda), as they have deliberately misled their millions of readers that numerous motorists are being ‘criminalised’ and ‘persecuted’ for ‘slipping’ or ‘drifting’ a ‘couple’ or a ‘few’ mph over the limit. They do it – and get away with it – because they know that 99.99999 of their readers are not aware of the trigger speed threshold.

Graham Marsden says:
26 September 2010

@Allan 33

You ask “How can cameras be there to raise revenue?”, perhaps you’d care to travel southbound on the A32 heading towards Corhampton in Hampshire.

There is a point at which the road enters a 30 limit as it bends to the right. There is a layby just around the bend where a Police speed camera van *loves* to sit because it has a perfect view of the exact point where that 30 limit sign is, but which is out of sight of traffic *until* it crosses that line.

Consequently, if you pass that 30 limit sign but haven’t slowed to exactly 30 mph *BINGO* they’ve got you.

Now if they wished to promote road safety that van could be sited in a position where it *would* be visible before you get to the limit sign, but it isn’t, which leads to the inexorable conclusion that it’s simply there to make money.

Sorry variable speeds limits are a No No – It is clear from the posts far too many motorists have no idea what the fixed limits are already – Imagine the greater chaos with variable limits.

Police cannot set an example at ALL times – That’s why they have blue flashing lights and sirens to ensure motorists get out of the way when they are driving to deal. with an emergency. Or do you expect them to obey the speed limit at the expense of some-one’s life??.

Jim Bright says:
21 August 2010

I disagree about variable limits. I have just visited the Borders region of Scotland where many of the small towns and villages have motorway style 300 yard warnings of the change down to 30, and my favourite a variable 20 limit past the local school complete with very visible signage and a system of flashing lights. Everyone seemed to obey this system. The trade off was far less street signage and clutter elsewhere and most seemed to be intelligently laid out.
Disappointed there is only two options in this survey, so I voted ‘Against’ but I think cameras do have a role to play in certain places.

franklee says:
21 May 2017

“blue flashing lights and sirens to ensure motorists get out of the way”

The police do not have a mandate to drive beyond the given speed limits. They too can be prosecuted for speeding. Other drivers may ‘give way’, though they should avoid obstructing any police vehicle (or any other!) but they are not obliged to stop or ‘give way’.
Unlike an ambulance on an emergency call, how often will any police vehicle be more effective ‘at the scene’ by saving a few seconds? If the police behave inappropriately then it’s hardly surprising that some drivers feel they can drive in a similar fashion. The police should be a gold standard, one we should all to aspire to.

ALL times… Short hand, Richard, for when they cruise past because they can and we can’t. Blue lights etc are different, of course.

M25 has limits that change. They are clearly marked. No so easy to do on ordinary roads though.

I was keeping my comments as brief as possible.

11. Good driving is about a lot more than just speed.

12. The faster you go the more fuel you use and the faster things wear out.

Time to stop I think. It’s too addictive.

It is obvious that my experience of the police has been far more rewarding than others on this topic of driving – I have never been treated with anything less than politeness and fairly. But then I don’t break speed limits.

I drive daily but can’t remember ever being overtaken by a silent police car that is speeding.

The whole point is that many admit they don’t know what the speed limit is – and – don’t obey it anyway – because “they know better”. Which is why I want Speed Cameras to remain.

If Speed Limits are variable – then those motorists have even greater excuses NOT to obey – remember they don’t obey the fixed ones anyway.

I completely agree with the idea that “Good driving is about a lot more than just speed” but many state they “don’t notice cameras” which implies they are bad drivers. .

Steve says:
20 August 2010

We are getting to the point where drivers are no longer required to think. Driver education is key, as is making everyone re-take their road test after a set period of time (say 10 years). Equally, local authorities place 30mph speed limits in inappropriate places, hence bringing the law into disrepute. In Oxfordshire for instance, there many areas of open countryside covered by 30mph limits – one of the highways engineers told me the reason for the blanket coverage is that if the average speed is reduced, then the road maintenance costs are also reduced because there is not so much wear on road surfaces at lower speeds.

Allan33 says:
25 August 2010

What do you mean when you say: “We are getting to the point where drivers are no longer required to think”? And what is this “driver education” you refer to? Will it stop the three or four boy-racers who live in the next street down from us from belting around everywhere they go endangering peoples’ lives? And if so, when is THAT likely to happen?

What nonsense to quote information from an unknown source as though it was gospel and suggest that because you are calling him a highway engineer we are obliged to believe it. As if a reduction from 30+ to 30 would produce a significant reduction in road repairs. The areas of country road you suggest are wrongly restricted to 30 are possibly narrow, have houses along them in some places, are used by cyclists or horses or people walking their dogs. They may even be used by motorists who don’t want to be forced into a hedge by some fool in a hurry to get somewhere five minutes before he otherwise would do so.
We have all seen drivers who cause you to wonder how they passed a test in the first place, what difference if they took one ten years later or every year for that matter. People with bad judgement or an irresponsible attitude in charge of a machine that can accelerate with the mere brush of a foot on the throttle will easily pass tests but it will not give them understanding, no more than quoting an unknown `highways engineer’ will give us knowledge.

Gloria Edwards says:
20 August 2010

Speed limits are supposed to be law. As it is I think that a great many drivers believe the Highway Code only applies to them when they want it to and the same applies to the speed limits.

The law is there for the protection of the majority of society, if you break it you should be punished. That does not mean the fines couldn’t be put to more appropriate use.

Speed bumps are an even greater and more expensive problem. Hit them at the legal speed limit and you will have a nasty reminder.

I am against the more common type of speed camera that records your speed at a given place as I have seen quite a lot of near accidents when drivers spot them and brake suddenly (even those not speeding).

I do support the idea of installing average speed cameras which are appearing on some roads in Essex.

I hate to point out but you have highlighted BAD drivers of BOTH types –

The first who brake because they are going too fast –

the second those that have no idea what speed the ARE going and brake anyway.

The whole point is to drive at or below the indicated speed limit at all times for the safety of society.

GOOD drivers are aware of the speed they are going at all times .

Driving is not just concentrating ON the traffic – OR ON looking at the speedo. as some posters seem to think……..IT’S BOTH.

Allan33 says:
30 August 2010

Just out of interest I recently did a survey of dozens of family and friends – those that drive that is – and not one of them had ever seen a ” near accident”, as you put it, and yet YOU have seen “quite a lot”. Can you tell me the location of the cameras you are referring to, or is it a case of you driving quite far afield and you just happen to be thereabouts when these near- misses happen? Over the past few years I have spent many hours at various camera sites observing what happens, and I have never-ever seen a “near accident” – ie someone suddenly slamming on their brakes and the driver behind them nearly going into the back of them.

For such near-misses to happen implies a number of things: 1) In one scenario it implies that the two drivers involved were not familiar with the camera site in the first place AND that they both missed the warning sign AND that they were both speeding AND that the driver behind was travelling much too close; 2) And in the second scenario it implies that the first driver was unfamiliar with the camera site AND missed the warning sign AND was not keeping half-an-eye on his or her speed (it only takes literally half-a-second to glance at the speedo occasionally), AND that the driver behind was driving too close.

And you blame all THAT on the CAMERAS?!!

Anyway, IF such problems ARE occurring, then the obvious solution is to hide/conceal the cameras. Would be much more effective anyway to do that, because if the speeders never knew when or where they were likely to get caught, they would be much more likely to drive within the limits most of the time.

As for average speed cameras, they in effect do what concealing ordinary speed cameras would do, and if the Stocksbridge Bypass is anything to go buy, then thousands of fatal and serious injury collisions could be prevented every year. The Stocksbridge Bypass – which is about seven miles in length – was built in 1988, and in the first fourteen years there were 25 fatalities. But at the end of 2002 average speed cameras were installed, and in the eight years since then there has only been one fatality – a drink/drive motorcyclist. And I believe the speed limit was reduced from 60mph to 50mph, but I’m not sure if that happened at the time the cameras were installed or some time later.

Gerry says:
20 August 2010

What a shame that a device that started off as one of a set of tools to enhance safety should have been used in such an oppresive way that they are seen as only a stick and fine for the motorist.
IF only we were to encourage positively the driving habits of considerate drivers (maybe an 80mph limit for them ?) and encourage good driving ‘at the time!’ not penalise bad driving later.
By the time that the ticket arrives (even if it does and the car is insured and registered) the damage may well have been done. It is bolting the door after the event.
Perhaps we might look around the world at driving styles and habits and education?
Why are UK drivers on the whole so much more oblivious to their surroundings compared with other countries where all round observation is taught.
Why are ridiculous 20mph limits put on roads when at 4 am their is no physical way for anybody let alone children to be there because of for instance high surrounding fences?
IF speed is the problem why are we allowed to move at all? and I suspect some who never move from their areas and define roads as rat runs would like us not to move at all?

3 Elements are at play in driving: Speed (or actually kinetic energy); Skill; and Attitude.
The police train their drivers as do all the emergency services to understand their level of skill, use mature judgement to assess the use of speed, positioning of the car and assessment of other obstacles and vehicles; and most of all to have the right attitude (hence the red mist problem in high speed chases.)
But of course skill and attitude are abstract and difficult to measure compared to speed which is an absolute and is measurable.
If we are truly to increase safety we must try to link all three and vary speed according to the other two othetrwise we merely drive the whole argument to the lowest denominator and many (outside of society) evade censure.
Let’s encorage and reward good ‘driving’ including rapid extra training for young people (and not so young and those in between) with the carrot of lower insurance and bring all drivers back into the fold of aspiring to be better (not just slower!)
And yes I do know about the ‘hit at 20 versus hit at 30 argument’ trotted out but that is another subject.

Allan33 says:
30 August 2010

In what sense are speed cameras oppressive? They are there to deter speeders, so how can THAT be “bolting the [stable] door after the event”? And WHAT damage “may well have been done” by the time the ticket arrives? And I would suggest that it is THEY – the speeders – that are doing the oppressing (the main reason given by people for not cycling, for example, is their fear of death or serious injury from fast moving traffic).

As for ‘rewarding’ considerate drivers with an 80mph limit on motorways; I regard myself as a considerate driver and I would like to see the limit on motorways reduced to 60mph, and at the very least, the present 70mph limit more strictly enforced.

You ask the question (which is in fact a statement): “Why are ridiculous 20mph limits put on roads when at 4.am their is no physical way for anybody let alone children to be there……..?” What an absurd question! So what about 8.00am and 10.45am and 12.06pm and 4.23pm and…………….. And how about people going to or returning from work at 4.00am – ie in the early hours of the morning – or people returning from a party or a night out clubbing, who are of course likely to have had a few drinks and, as such, not be as alert to the dangers of traffic as they otherwise might be. WHAT a totally ridiculous statement!

The reality is that many collisions happen as a consequence of something unexpected happening, and the faster someone is driving when the unexpected DOES happen, the more likely it is that a collision will occur, and the faster someone is driving the more likely it is that the injuries sustained will be fatal or serious in the event of a collision. If everyone drove cautiously and considerately and carefully, then not only would there be any need for this “rapid extra training” you speak of, but the number of fatal and serious injury collisions – and particularly the more serious of the serious injury collisions – would be reduced significantly, by up to 65 or 70% or more.

Around 32% of driver/motorbike rider fatalities happen in single vehicle crashes, and whilst some of them are due to the driver falling asleep, the vast majority of them happened because the driver was driving too fast, and THAT is precisely the reason why they lost control of their vehicle. In such cases – and many others – BETTER would have meant SLOWER.

You, no doubt, have your anti-camera agenda, but in a recent survey by the Institute of Advanced motorists, 70% said they supported the use of speed cameras, and THAT is despite years and years of propaganda lies and disinformation by much of the national daily press and abhorrent groups such as the ironically-named Safe Speed and the pompous-sounding Association of Barm….., I mean British Drivers. As for Jeremy – 3,600 road deaths a year is “a cause for massive celebration” (Sunday Times 26.03.06) – Clarkson………..

See results of IAM survey here:


In the past five years, the number of road deaths has fallen from 3,201 in 2005 to 2,222 in 2009, and whilst it is hardly a cause for celebration, let’s hope that the number of road deaths continues to fall sharply, and the numbers of families every year who are left devastated by the loss of a loved one in such circumstances becomes a rarity in the not too distant future.

Allan33 says:
31 August 2010

Correction: In my response above I said that “Around 32% of driver/motorbike rider fatalities happen in single vehicle crashes”. What I SHOULD have said is: Around 32% of ************************ ************** fatalities happen in single vehicle crashes.

Allan33 says:
31 August 2010

Re Correction: For some bizarre reason certain words in my Correction were blanked out. All I am trying to say re the 32% I mentioned, is that THAT of course includes passengers killed as well as drivers.

There are some very good points raised in previous comments, however I firmly believe that the placement of many cameras has absolutely no relevance to safety but simply as a means to raise funds. Many have been placed on roads with no record of accidents and often where the speed limit too has been set below the level of similar roads with higher limits. As a professional driver for more than forty years I consider that I drive safely in accordance with the road and traffic conditions. I do not have any traffic convictions and generally observe speed limits where considered appropriate. When the traffic speed cameras were introduced we were informed that they were only going to be placed in locations where speed had been a factor in causing a number of accidents at that location and I would have no objection to this but this is clearly no longer the case.

Allan33 says:
31 August 2010

As I said towards the end of my response to ‘Gerry’ above, the anti-camera propagandists have been disseminating lies and disinformation about cameras – and in relation to cameras – for many years now. There are many of them, all concocted and designed to lead Joe Public to believe that cameras are ineffective and/or just there to raise revenue.

One of the lies oft repeated by them is that road deaths have not decreased since cameras were first introduced. Here’s a recent example from Richard Littlejohn in his column in the Daily Mail:

‘In two of the four years after the first camera was installed in Britain in 1992, the casualty rate actually went up. Since then, it has remained fairly constant.’ DM 28.07.10

Littlejohn and the DM editors know that 99.999% of their readers have no knowledge whatsoever about the number of road deaths that occur each year and, as such, they know they can disseminate such lies with impunity, and this lie, like many others, is concocted and designed to lead their several million readers to believe that cameras have not reduced the numbers of people being killed on the roads, and so therefore must be ineffective. And if that’s the case, then why are they still being used unless it’s to raise revenue. Since 2003, when the speed camera programme really took off, road deaths have fallen from 3,508 to 2,222 last year. And Littlejohn earns big bucks to lie and mislead and manipulate the readers of the DM who, in effect, pay his wages.

We then get to another of the Big Lies disseminated by the anti-camera fraternity – ie that most cameras are NOT situated at accident blackspots, so therefore they must be there for the purpose of raising revenue. Yet again, those that spread this lie around repeatedly and as far and wide as they can, KNOW that the vast majority of people DON’T KNOW that 99% of cameras in operation are only there in the first place because the location – ie the stretch of road – met with the DfT criteria/requirements, and THEY are that four fatal or serious injury collisions happened at that location in the three years prior to the installation of the camera.

‘Bob’ says – like numerous Toms, ***** and Harrys on numerous forums and comments pages – that: “Many [speed cameras] have been placed on roads with no record of accidents.” Well, whenever you come across someone making such a claim, just respond by asking them how they happen to know that these roads they are referring to don’t have any record of accidents. I’ve done exactly just that on dozens and dozens of occasions over the past five or six years and, guess what, the person that said it is never heard from again! So BOB, are you going to be the first? I doubt it somehow.

I have had a license since learning to drive in the Army in 1955 and have had a car most years since then from an Austin 7 to my present Mondeo 2.2. I suppose during those years I have averaged about 12,000 miles a year, not professional driving but careful `family aboard’ driving. This experience has brought me in touch with many many professional drivers, in this country and on the continent. Not literally in touch but near misses, overtaking, undertaking, pushing past me on narrow roads or forcing me over to allow their huge bulk right of way. In recent years it is the smaller lorries and the Transit type vans with their high top speeds and rapid acceleration that has become a problem. I have had them behind me on 50mph roads trying to make me move over before I am able to or go faster when I don’t want to. They are all professional drivers with a job to do and places to go before they can go home to their families but so what, why shouldn’t they stick to the speed limit the same as I have to?

This correspondent, a professional driver, says he`GENERALLY OBSERVES SPEED LIMITS WHERE CONSIDERED APPROPRIATE’, so we have to assume that where in his judgement he considers the speed limit appropriate we are safe in our own observance of the speed limit and at all other times we should move over or go faster to accomodate his need for more speed.

This is why the opinion of other drivers, professional or not, cannot be allowed to pursue a situation based on their own agenda, professional driver, travelling salesman, boy racer or general inconsiderate fool with a car that goes faster than his/her brain operates at should have no say in the matter.
Cameras are necessary and should remain and increase in number.

Graham Marsden says:
26 September 2010

@Bob and Frank Davis:

Being paid to do a job that involves driving, be it taxi, delivery or whatever does *NOT* make someone a “professional driver”! In fact it can often mean that that person is a *worse* driver because they have inculcated bad habits (aggressive driving, risky overtaking, lack of consideration for other road users etc).

Cameras are not going to do anything to prevent that sort of behaviour, however, only traffic police using the Mark One Eyeball can spot and stop it.

Ben Clark says:
20 August 2010

I have been driving (too) fast for the last 65 years. The fact that I am still around bears testament I feel to my reactions, eye-sight, intelligent reading of the road, and judgement of others’ speed – and an element of luck. As road conditions have become changed so has my observance of speed limits – except the ‘open road’ 60/70. I fully support the installation of speed cameras in accident black spots and also for observance of ‘other than speeding’ crimes.

In general I find the worst observers of the lower speed limits are commercial drivers (especially those driving the large white Mercedes vans).What I cannot understand is, what has become of the tachographs (‘spies in the cabs’) that caused such howls of protest from the commercial fraternity when supposedly, ten/twenty (?) years ago, they were introduced into vehicles above some particular weight. I find the speed of some of these vehicles totally unacceptable, not only because when things go wrong they are so much more difficult to control, but that the damage a vehicle can inflict in a collision is related to its weight. My physics is rusty but I believe a doubling of weight results in not double the damage but four times as much.(‘as the square’). The same goes for speed – it might even follow ‘as the cube’ law. I would suggest that far better policing of these tachographs should take place (supposing that they are still fitted).

alsymo says:
20 August 2010

only people who want to break the speed limits are against them.

ian murfitt says:
20 August 2010

Speed cameras have their place but they are much to blunt an instrument to be so universally deployed. They are best at accident black spots, where they are very effective. However, they are useless elsewhere because the locals simply slow down when they know they are coming up and little old ladies doing 36mph are fined.Spend the money on laying radar traps for the real speeders (15mph over the limit in the 30 and 40 zones and more than 30 mph over the limit on the motorway. Send warning letters to others who the police consider are driving without enough attention to speed. Give the police the right to make decisions at constable level. Specs? Fine in urban areas but on the motorway at night when no one is working, please turn them off after the work is over. If they are doing night work make sure the motorist is warned!

Allan33 says:
31 August 2010

But just about ALL cameras ARE at accident blackspots. A camera can only be installed at a site that meets with DfT criteria – ie that four (or more) fatal or serious injury crashes happened at the location in the previous three years. The point is that they CAN’T be “useless elsewhere” because they are just about ALL at accident blackspots. So if the cameras which are situated at accident blackspots are “very effective”, as YOU say they ARE, then there’s no problem presumably because just about all of them ARE.

So what you are saying is make all 30mph limits 45, all 40mph limits 55 and all 70mph limits 100. What nonsense, leave the speed limits as they are, introduce more 20mph limits in urban areas, especially around schools and playgrounds and increase the number of cameras on all other roads.
Who are these little old ladies who drive so recklessly at 36mph and keep getting caught, who’s paying their fines and buying their fuel to allow them to continue.

Geoff Hallchurch says:
21 August 2010

I used to work for the company who maintained/organised Wiltshire roads. I worked in the Accident Investigation and Traffic counting division for WCC. One of my main functions was to deal with injury accident statistics for Wiltshire in conjunction with Wiltshire Police. All injury accidents recorded by the Wilts Police were put into the computer system. It was possible to investigate any chosen injury accident statistics to determine a huge range of facts about the accidents and where and why they occured. About twelve years ago as part of my job, I was asked to investigate the effectiveness of speed cameras on the A303 in Wiltshire. At this time the speed cameras had been in operation for a few years. I spent a few weeks examining all relevant accident stats at the camera sites before and after speed camera installation and the final conclusions of my report were that the cameras were not very effective in reducing accidents or injuries on the major trunk road. I remember that the final conclusions were that the cameras gave a less than 1% reduction in overall injury accidents on the A303 which was not significant. There were around 4/5 sites for cameras on the wilts length of the A303. It is clear that speed cameras are ineffective at reducing accidents on trunk roads like the A303.

It is significant to the less than 1% who didn’t have an accident. It was probably not insignificant to the hundreds of motorists well being who drove along a road that was under some sort of outside control however insignificant that might be to people who study statistics and claim them as the be all and end all.

Ray Spencer says:
21 August 2010

I am for speed cameras but not the fixed ones,as everyone knows where they are!!. If you have mobile ones drivers will be more inclined to keep to the speed limits,and the fines should only go towards improving the roads at black spots,and not into Council or Government coffers.

Have to say – when we only had mobile speed traps – motorists did NOT slow down unless they saw the speed trap – they simply knew that the chances of being caught was far lower because there were far far fewer police manning the mobile traps – they were really rare. That was why there were accidents in certain places – the police *never* had the resources to man the number of mobile traps needed properly. That’s why the static speed cameras were installed in the first place. .

Since the highly visible fixed speed cameras were installed the motorist knows that if they pass the camera at above the limit – they get caught – Fantastic deterrent!

They also reduce accidents – ask RoSPA who keep the records..

Jim Simpson says:
21 August 2010

Speed cameras are essential. Drivers who object to them will always be overconfident of their abilities and inconsiderate of other road users. I’ve been in the UK for 20 years now and never had a speeding ticket (or an accident), but then I don’t exceed the limit by more than 10% + 2mph and I only do so if conditions permit. If limits were raised you can guarantee that the inconsiderate will be screaming along on the motorways at over 90 and in poor control of their vehicles.

Simon says:
21 August 2010

I am a driver and behave like any other driver when I drive. However as a cyclist I have found that a well placed and advertised camera slows the traffic to around 30 (which is the limit) at an essential point of my journey where a cycle lane crosses the road. The traffic immediately speeds up afterwards.
I would like to see more cameras. The entrance to my railway station is too dangerous to use in winter in dark because the traffic goes around the bend too fast. There are many B roads that can only be used by cars because. Fast vehicles make many roads unusable for others causing accidents more noise and pollution along the footpaths.

Chris says:
21 August 2010

When I first rode a motorcycle in the early 60’s I was always watching out for the traffic cop on the red Triumph Speedtwin. When I rode faster bikes in the late 60s and early 70s I was always watching out for the traffic cops in the blue Rover. Strangely, the hidden presence of these road traffic law enforcers made us careful about our speed and cautious with our driving styles. You never knew where they’d be loitering and so you behaved. If you did make an error you could guarantee that you’d get a roadside lecture, but you knew that you’d be dealing with a human being who would take into consideration that it was 2am, you hadn’t been drinking and there wasn’t another soul on the deserted roads. And you’d get off with a caution which served to remind you that there were laws to abide by, but that they were enforced with a degree of undertanding.
To err is human and probably, we all do it. But the speed camera makes only a binary decision…i.e. you’re guilty or you’re innocent. That’s the bit that I don’t like, along with the fact that as long as a motorist stays within the speed limit, that driver can be drunk, or under the influence of drugs, or half asleep, or talking on their mobile phone, or, any other such activity that threatens lives on the road.
The speed camera undoudtedly saves lives here and there, but isn’t its widespread use an abdication of responsibility, or even duty, by our law enforcement agencies? Today I watched any number of white delivery vans coming past me at 80 mph on a rural duel carriageway, one hand on the wheel and the other holding the ubiquitous mobile phone to the ear. Invent me a speed camera that will stop that happening and I’ll join the ranks of the converted.
Unlike the red Triumph Speedtwins that could hide just about anywhere, my modern GPS Speedtrap Alert tells me where every fixed and mobile camera site is throughout the British Isles and beyond. So I can get away with practically anything…as long as I slow down for the cameras!
I don’t speed, and I try very hard to obey all the other safe driving rules, and I’d really welcome more of the traffic cops back onto the roads. I suspect they’d reduce accidents far more than the cameras do.

I completely agree – I was a mad motorcyclist in the 50s and 60s (no limits then on the ‘open road’).

The problem is and has been the lack of money to employ the numbers of policemen needed to stand guard day and night on our roads in the hopes of catching passing offending motorists. It is the same reason for so many of our superb CCTV units (which are also very effective). Remember the huge increase in traffic since the 50s requiring MORE regulation rather than less.

What speed cameras do is catch motorists that speed – they are and were not installed to catch – mobile phone users – drunks or Druggies. just speeding motorists – and whatever posters say they do that well – even though many posters want to excuse or ignore their own “mistakes” AKA breaking the Law.

However In fact speed cameras can also help to catch motorists that drive without – driving licences – MOT – and insurance.

Now if someone could come up with a detector that could detect alcohol. drugs, and manual mobile phone use at say 50 metres – I would agitate for them to be installed too – Note not instead of – too.

In the meantime – we have to leave non speed offences detection to the human bobby – but speedsters ARE caught with speed cameras. There should be more of them.

A little flight of fancy – to address the complaints that “speed cameras do not detect mobile phone use drug or alcohol abuse”. Though they never were designed to do so. The technologies are already developed or are close to finalisation (drug breath detection is still flaky).

Why not fit an immobiliser to ALL vehicles – that is valid ONLY for the registered owner – It would act some-what like this – registered owner blows into a tube after a “fingerprint scan” (which is matched to the one imprinted in the IM memory and in the steering wheel detection mechanism unlock to avoid false inserts) – the breath analysis would detect any alcohol or drug use denying the use of the car to the car owner.

If the MOT. insurance and driving licence are not valid – the use of the car is denied the user/

When in the car – any use of a hand mobile would transmit to the “immobiliser” causing a ticket to be processed – and also act as proof of an illegal act when they crash..

Any infraction of any speed regulations would cause a ticket exactly the same way as the phone offence.

To aid the motorist – have the speedo as a “Heads Up Display” on the windscreen – AND – what a thought – .a nice persuasive voice stating the speed when within say one mph of the actual legal speed with a little over-ride mechanism to ensure the speed limit is never exceeded. No more excuses of “I can’t look at the speedo AND the traffic – though you SHOULD..

In fact with a little money and ingenuity – cars could become effectively driverless – as aeroplanes can already be. – (They are usually equipped with Auto take off and Landing – and Auto Pilot )

radar driving anyone???

mike alexander says:
22 August 2010

peter vaughan assumes the boy racers will have a field day speeding on unmonitored roads. Have we not a traffic branch to deter such antisocial behaviour? If the courts did what we expect of them anti social behaviour would be a thing of the past. for some unknown reason the courts are reluctant to apply maximum fines / detention. they appear to be more interested in ‘the ability to pay’. if the offender cannot pay why then can his/her means of transport not be seized and crushed? we should not assume that unless we are to drive ‘under threat’ we will not drive responsibly. what does mr vaughan propose for drivers who, once past a camera, immediately ‘put the foot down’. I say that harsh fines / detention (where appropriate) should be the deterrent.

The trouble is that the numbers in the traffic branch are insufficient to monitor the roads – there were never enough BEFORE the advent of Speed Cameras (A major reason for them being installed in the first place) it will be worse afterwards. With the planned cuts in police numbers there will be a huge number of unmonitored roads to save money – far more than before. I predict an increase in accidents. .

The speed cameras act as something like “sleeping policemen” AKA speed bumps. – they take the place of policemen – So although it may be true that some motorists illegally speed up again – Their overall speed is down – and crucially they slow down at the accident black-spots which has shown to SAVE lives..

You have to be caught for the deterrent to work – a few policemen won’t – speed cameras catch people – which is why so many people complain about them. Wonderful deterrent – visible speed cameras.