Fleet News

Minister sparks new camera detector row

TRANSPORT Minister Stephen Ladyman has been accused of setting a bad example to at-work drivers after admitting that he has a speed camera detector fitted in his car.

The comment has sparked debate over whether detectors, which warn drivers of approaching speed cameras and traps, actually promote safer driving or are used by persistent speeders as a way to escape a driving ban.

Ladyman, a former company car driver who has admitted in the past to collecting three speeding tickets, was asked as part of a debate into the new Road Safety Bill whether or not the in-car systems will remain legal.

He replied: ‘Such devices will continue to be perfectly legal. I have one myself.’

During the Commons question and answer session, Conservative MP Owen Paterson also admitted to using such a device, saying: ‘It has made me drive better.’

Paterson added: ‘The more devices there are to tell us where cameras are, the better. We want people to drive at the right speed and within the law.’

National road safety charity Brake has reacted with dismay to Ladyman’s revelation and said such devices should be banned. Spokeswoman Dianne Ferreira said: ‘He is setting a bad example to company car drivers. Having one of these systems is tantamount to admitting you speed. We believe they should be banned and are only used by drivers who speed and who do not want to lose their licences.

‘Do supporters of these systems also think burglars in someone’s house should be equipped with a detector telling them there’s a police van approaching to arrest them?’

However, Ladyman’s use of a speed camera detector was not condemned by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), an organisation which promotes improved standards of driving.

A spokesman said ‘We don’t have a problem with them, and speed camera detectors could well have a part to play in driver education. But drivers should not rely on them and shouldn’t forget they already have two speed camera detection devices in their car – their eyes.’

As part of the Road Safety Bill unveiled last week, it was confirmed the Government will introduce graduated speeding penalties.

The lowest penalty will be two points on the licence and a £40 fine, a medium range penalty will be three points and a £60 fine and a higher penalty for faster speeders will mean six points and a £100 fine.

Fleet management company Masterlease warned that the Bill could result in a ‘double-edged speed limit lottery’.

Gavin Jones, head of the company’s risk management service Pro-Act, said: ‘Changing the fining system isn’t going to have a significant effect on the speed people travel.

‘In fact, it seems that the new system has been designed to catch more speeding drivers as the faster you go, the more likely you are to get points, but we’re not sure of the message it is sending to those just over the limit – are we saying that’s OK?’

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