In a survey of 500 motorists, just 35% of respondents believed that cameras were positioned only at serious crash sites, and only 42% believed that revenue raising was not the motive for using speed cameras.
Public approval for road safety cameras stands at 69%, compared to nearly 90% in 1999.
This may reflect the huge increase in the number of motorists caught speeding by cameras.
Among those surveyed, 28% said they, or a member of their household, had been 'flashed and fined' in the last three years, compared to 18% in 2002.
From April 2007, new road-safety funding for local authorities will be linked to lowering of death and injury rates. Until now, the practice of funding enforcement operations from motoring fines served to increase cynicism and reduce public support.
Kevin Delaney, head of road safety for the IAM Motoring Trust, said: ‘Breaking the link between enforcement and revenue should encourage local authorities to deploy the right countermeasure for each road safety problem, and use cameras only where they are the best tool for the job.
The Government must ensure that the new funding arrangements not only fulfil the prime aim of reducing death and injury but also convince cynical motorists that, when properly deployed, 'speed', cameras really are 'road safety' cameras.’