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Speed Camera Questions and Answers

By: Kevin Dowling BA (IMC) - Updated: 30 Mar 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Speeding Speed Cameras Questions Cars

Speeding is considered to be the leading contributing factor in most fatal road accidents. Speeding accounts for twice as many deaths and serious injuries than drink driving and is considered the most common form of anti-social behaviour in British crime survey reports.

Over the past 15 years, the government has attempted to combat the dangers of speeding with speed cameras, which capture footage of speeding cars on film or digitally and lead to speeding fines.

The addition of further fines can lead to drivers being banned, driving licences being suspended and in certain circumstances, drivers being imprisoned.

Speed cameras have not gained much popularity with the motoring world since their introduction and over the years their use has been questioned by motorist groups as being more concerned with fining motorists rather than discouraging speeding behaviour.

We look at some of the questions raised by the increasing use of speed cameras in Britain.

What are Speed Cameras Designed to Prevent?

The term ‘speeding’ refers to both excessive and inappropriate speed by motor vehicles. It is ‘excessive’ speed when drivers are breaking the speed limit for the road on which they are travelling,

‘Inappropriate’ speed is when the speed of the vehicle is too high for the circumstances or conditions, but not above the speed limit itself.

Speed cameras are aimed at preventing driving at excessive speed, but not inappropriate speed, which is a significant cause of most traffic accidents.

Are Speed Cameras Just Another Way to Tax Motorists?

Some motoring groups argue that speed cameras are just an easy way for the Government to make money.

Their revenue-generating powers are significant, but the safety aspect of the introduction of speed cameras remains the strongest argument for their usage.

Speed cameras are a very effective and cost-effective way to discourage large proportions of motorists from breaking the speed limit and, in doing so, they reduce the statistics of the same motorists being the cause of accidents.

Do speed cameras actually reduce road danger?

Cameras are a proven success in saving lives. It is estimated that on average they reduce the numbers of people killed or seriously injured at accident blackspot sites by up to 40%.

Who Decides Where Speed Cameras are Positioned?

Local authorities are in charge of the positioning of speed cameras, although the Highways Agency is responsible for their placement and upkeep on motorways and main roads.

In the past, the criteria for the installation of a new speed camera was based on accident history. If four or more people were killed or seriously injured within a one kilometre stretch of road within the past three years, a location for the speed camera would be agreed.

This requirement is no longer the case, and local authorities can now install speed cameras in areas where they claim there is ‘significant potential’ for traffic accidents and speeding casualties.

Do Speed Cameras Unfairly Punish Law-Abiding Motorists?

The argument that speed cameras punish good drivers is a spurious one, as the statistics demonstrate. Nearly half of all UK drivers admit to breaking the 30mph speed limit and more than half (54%) admit to breaking the 70mph limit on motorways.

Speed cameras only record and punish those people who are speeding, and therefore breaking the law. A law-abiding motorist is therefore one that doesn’t break the law and doesn’t attract the unwanted attention of a speed camera.

Don’t the Police Have More Important Criminals to Catch?

Many people argue that an over-reliance on speed cameras has resulted in fewer actual police on the roads themselves.

It is true that over the last 20 years there has been a 30% reduction in traffic police, which means that drivers who break the law on the road have less chance of being caught and punished.

For example, drink driving still accounts for almost 20% of all fatalities in road crashes. Mobile phone use, dangerous driving and jumping red lights still occur far too often. Uninsured and unlicensed driving is also a significant and increasing issue.

Police forces claim in the defence of speed cameras that automated law enforcement frees them up for other duties and that the government saves far more from the avoidance of death and injury than it collects in speeding fines.

Whatever your view on speed cameras, they seem to be a necessary evil in the struggle to reduce the numbers of deaths and serious injuries occurring on our roads.

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