/ Motoring

New intelligent speed camera just an invasion of privacy?

Eye spying on you

Located in the appropriate areas, I’m all for speed cameras. But is a new camera that can catch us committing up to five different offences a step too far into monitoring our motoring activities?

Speed cameras may be the biggest gripe for UK road users (and we’ve certainly seen that in our speed cameras Convo) but the fact is they can make a high-casualty location safer.

But I find it strange that following speculation around whether speed cameras are being switched off due to budget cut backs, that we’re now talking about a new ludicrously expensive ‘super camera’.

Does it devalue the role of a traffic officer?

The new camera system (Project Asset) not only checks your speed, it can also determine your distance from the vehicle in front, read your number plate to see if you’re insured, check if your tax has expired and even tell if you’re wearing a seatbelt or not.

In theory, I agree that new measures need to be taken to reduce the number of uninsured and untaxed drivers on the road. But what about the majority of us who do pay our forever-rising insurance, tax our cars and drive within the boundaries of the law? Why should we be judged?

The biggest issue for me is that this machine could takeover the role of the traffic officer. If these £50k cameras (money which could be better spent fixing our roads) do get rolled out across the country, will we see a decline in road cops?

What will happen to the human element of policing our roads? If a traffic officer spots someone tailgating, they can pull them over before they cause an accident. If a camera sees the same, it’ll issue them with a ticket weeks later. That’s not making our roads safer.

What else is the Asset camera capable of?

I’m also conscious of what else this so-called ‘super camera’ is capable of. If it can check to see if I’m wearing my seatbelt or not, what else will it know about me? I hope it doesn’t pass judgement on my dress sense or catch me singing along to Lionel Richie!

But in all seriousness, if it can determine whether I’ve belted up or not, it will no doubt be able to see who else and what else is in my car.

I’m not a massive fan of the overused phrase “Big Brother is watching you”, but I can’t think of any other way to describe this technology. Am I being over-paranoid, or should this speed camera take the high road?

Comments
Member

Aren’t we now the most-watched nation on the planet? Things that were less intrusive went on in the old Eastern bloc and modern-day China. Even North Korea is probably a more private place to live!

I think this isn’t a bad idea so long as the data captured isn’t misused. For example, if a crime had been committed nearby would everyone who drove by in the area automatically become a suspect? Would this allow the police to have greater powers to investigate ordinary, law abiding citizens’ lives even more? Some might say that if you haven’t done anything wrong you shouldn’t worry. Would those same people like it if someone on foot followed their every move and looked over their shoulder and recorded every minute of their daily activity?

But if technology can be used in an effective way to catch those who haven’t got insurance, paid their car tax or is too stupid not to wear their own seat belt and so long as the way the service is used is completely open to independent scrutiny then I’m all for it. It seems far more cost-effective and would allow officers time to focus their efforts on more serious offences.

Member

Fantastic news ! We hope new intelligent speed camera spot bad drivers who drives without insurance,mot, tax, tailgating,smoking cigarettes, drinking can, talking on mobile, eating food, speeding and who has adopted habit not to give indicator
Those who are negative minded will not like this new technology because they do not like to respect highway code.
Govt. will get good funding from this bad drivers !

Member
Hamish Clark says:
12 November 2010

It is standard behaviour for most drivers to apply thier brakes when passing a speed camera, and then look down to check their speedometer. Unfortunately, many experienced drivers will know that a) all speedometers are optimistic, to varying amounts, and b) the cameras have a certain amount of discretuion, ie are set at a few miles per hour in excess of the speed limit. Hence many drivers will not slow down by the same amount as others – which will give rise to bunching and a possible infringement for tailgating for a few shorty seconds. Is this a good idea?

In any event, we will not get away from the fact that speed cameras are a form of tourist tax. The locals know their location and will normally slow down, whilst the out-of-towners may not, and get caught. Is this fair? What is more, some local radio stations announce the sites of mobile radar trasp on a daily basis. Again, a good service for the locals, but unfair to the “tourists” who are not tuned to the local station.

Member

the only downside is the possibility of it being used as a replacement for officers on duty, as for invasion of privacy..!?.. if you are in a public place WHAT privacy,- when you walk down the street everyone can watch you,so what is the problem if anyone watches when you are driving? personally I don`t breach the traffic regulations so I have nothing to fear, I also refuse to subscribe to paranoia when it comes to cameras in public places.

Member

I do agree with the speed camera tackling the untaxed & uninsured drivers, but how effective will they be? I hear regularly of persons being apprehended for supposed no tax or insurance but the delay before the data reaches the computer makes criminals of innocent persons. Blanket type regulation application catches the usually law abiding citizens and allows the percipient offender escape as they soon know the wrinkles. Ie stolen number plates, false addresses, etc.
During my driving test I was instructed to ‘read the road’, this advice is becoming out of date as ‘Mr Big’ is doing it all for us and driving to the road conditions is becoming a thing of the past. We are all being treated the same, whether the vehicle being driven is a motor bike, car, truck or max size lorry all have different abilities in cornering, braking, driver skill, acceleration etc.

Member

Another little thing, if the camera really can spot whether or not you are wearing your seatbelt it must be taking a picture from the front, so I hope that everybody is only driving with who they are supposed to be.

Member

Inspector Clinton Hale, manager of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Camera Unit says that fixed cameras CAUSE accidents, whereas average cameras are much safer. So why are more fixed cameras being considered?
http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Home/More-average-speed-cameras-set-for-A14.htm

Member
Tom Rendell says:
5 December 2010

errm, I agree with you, average speed cameras are very effective.
From what I have seen recently, their numbers are generally increasing..

Member
Bill T says:
12 November 2010

If the Tax and Insurance dodgers become aware of this, what is to stop them putting false number plates on their cars so that the cameras will not catch them. If they manage this then the poor innocent motorist could end up arguing against a camera.