Fleet News

'Stealth’ speed cameras seen as revenue-raisers

The use of ‘stealth’ speed cameras risks them being seen as a revenue raising tool rather than a deterrent, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

The warning comes after new grey cameras, rather than highly visible yellow cameras, were mounted on stretches of the M25, and are being introduced to the M1, M3, M6 and M60 motorways.

The new Highways Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System (Hadecs3), enforces variable speed limits on motorways when they are congested, but when the speed limit is 70mph the cameras continue to target drivers.

Tim Shallcross, IAM head of technical policy, said: “The widespread use of mobile cameras, and lately the introduction of fining people for exceeding 70mph on sections of managed motorways, reinforces the perception that they are revenue raisers.”

When first introduced, most cameras were grey and in the 1990s regulations were introduced to make them visible so they would be more of a deterrent.

“It is hard to understand why camera partnerships or other safety camera operators are now going back on this policy,” continued Shallcross. “We have worked hard to promote the safety benefits of cameras and the current tendency to make them inconspicuous risks undoing much of that work.”

IAM’s fears appear to be well-founded, after a Fleet News poll revealed that two-thirds (66.5%) of respondents said speed cameras didn’t benefit road safety.

However, the Highways Agency has defended the cameras. A spokesman told Fleet News: “Variable speed limits on smart motorways are primarily there to smooth traffic flow, reduce congestion and make journeys more reliable.

"Hundreds of thousands of motorists use this stretch of the M25 every day. The vast majority are sticking to the speed limits and are experiencing better journeys as a result of smart motorways.

“There are clear signs where cameras are in place and the new cameras are more visible than the previous versions.”

Dave Nichols, professional engagement officer at Brake, continued: “It’s disappointing that so many people surveyed by Fleet News feel speed cameras don’t benefit road safety.

“Our own surveys have shown that the majority of people accept that speed cameras do a good job of reducing speeds and saving lives, and almost two in three drivers said more enforcement, including cameras and traffic police, would persuade them to take more care on the road.”

The road safety charity argues that all speed cameras, including the new ‘stealth’ cameras, are an effective way of reducing speeding. “If you don’t break the speed limit, you won’t get caught by a camera,” said Nichols.

A four-year national evaluation of more than 4,000 speed camera sites across the UK found a 70% reduction in speeding at fixed sites, a fall of 6% in average speeds and a 42% reduction in deaths and serious injuries.

Nichols added: “Average speed cameras on motorways are visible and drivers should recognise signs telling them they are in an area where speed enforcement cameras can operate.

"They are particularly beneficial as they enforce limits over a longer stretch of road, discouraging drivers from only slowing down briefly for each camera, and then speeding up again and continuing to put lives in danger.”

In 2013, the number of people fined for speeding peaked at more than 115,000 – the highest level since 2009.

After the first Hadecs3 cameras were installed between junctions five and six of the M25, figures from Kent Police showed that 668 speeding offences were logged in just over two months.

Nichols concluded: “We would urge all drivers to stay well within the limits, regardless of whether there is a speed camera or not.”

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Comments

  • Tranman - 09/02/2015 10:48

    No one will ever convince me that the majority of speed cameras are anything but revenue raisers. I dont have a problem with speed cameras in towns, especially where there are schools, hospitals or pedestrians etc but if the so called: Safety Camera Partnerships, had any interest in road safety, they would be promoting advanced driver training rather than just looking to fine as many people as possible and organisations like brake, should be doing the same instead of simply whinging about speed all the time. Accidents are not caused by speeding, they are caused by inappropriate speed for which it would be far better to actually talk to and educate people about the effects of inappropriate speed. It would save more accidents.

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  • Nigel Boyle - 09/02/2015 11:51

    I can only agree with this headline. I am all for sensible speed and self constraint that varies with road conditions; cameras are good where this fails.

    However I got caught in one that was mile after mile of 60 mph until the final section at the end of the roadworks which was reduced to 40. I see no reason for it other than entrapment.

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  • Brian Goddard - 09/02/2015 12:07

    As ever Brake jump on the speeding bandwagon, however speed cameras cannot detect the dangerous driving that causes accidents. Cameras should be sited in accident blackspots, outside schools and hospitals. These new cameras on the M1, 25 and soon the M3/ M6, as has been noted in this edition Traffic Police numbers are seriously depleted, so they cannot catch the dangerous drivers that cause the problems on the motorway network. This is clearly a money making exercise, especially by dint of the fact that these cameras are disguised. Brake needs to take note that speed does not kill, inapropriate speed kills. How do cameras benifit safety when you drive in a straight line at midnight with very little traffic around. These are just moneyboxes!

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    • Keith - 09/02/2015 12:51

      @Brian Goddard - The evidence shows that reduced speed reduces death and injury. There is dangerous behaviour other than speeding, but driving faster increases the amount of deaths and injury. Like the 'guns don't kills people, people kills people fallacy'. More guns, higher speeds, they both kill people. It's what the data says, it's why the cameras are there.

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    • KJW - 09/02/2015 15:18

      @Keith - even if it were true, on that basis I think we should ban all motorised transport, we'd all survive any collision at 10mph. Driving faster does NOT increase deaths and injury, having "accidents" or collisions at higher speed may well impact the figures, but speed is NOT the cause of accidents, it's driver error. Not concentrating, and treating driving as some "auto-pilot" activity because it is familiar and repeated.

      The standard of driving in the UK is appalling, THAT is what needs to be addressed, not continuously lowering speed limits to suit the lowest common denominator.

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    • KJW - 09/02/2015 15:18

      @Keith - even if it were true, on that basis I think we should ban all motorised transport, we'd all survive any collision at 10mph. Driving faster does NOT increase deaths and injury, having "accidents" or collisions at higher speed may well impact the figures, but speed is NOT the cause of accidents, it's driver error. Not concentrating, and treating driving as some "auto-pilot" activity because it is familiar and repeated.

      The standard of driving in the UK is appalling, THAT is what needs to be addressed, not continuously lowering speed limits to suit the lowest common denominator.

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    • Paul Adey - 10/02/2015 01:00

      @Brian Goddard - My problem is understanding why the speed limits are so random and inconsistent. A 3 lane motorway, where nobody is working, is reduced to 50mph, but a country lane with twists and turns and opposing traffic, is OK at 60mph??

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  • Mr T Richards - 09/02/2015 12:22

    I am a daily user of the M6 motorway heading North from Birmingahm to Stafford and I can tell you what the speed limits will be before I get onto the network and this will be regrarless of traffic and congestion so my conclusion as to be that they are money raising. Why are they not changed when there is no traffic congestion?

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  • AJB - 09/02/2015 12:31

    All speed cameras are revenue raisers - fact !
    I wonder what effect a sign that read 'Please drive at an appropriate speed' would have or do I have too much faith in human nature?

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  • KJW - 09/02/2015 12:54

    Speeding is an easy target, tickets can be issued automatically from digital cameras, and it is difficult to defend. However speed limits are an arbitrary figure, and often have little relevance to road conditions etc. as in the almost exponential growth of 50MPH limits across the country. As anyone who drives will tell you a far bigger problem than speeding is driver attitude. Very few drivers seem to have an interest in driving, or concentrate on the act of driving, it's seen as a right. Using mobile phones whilst driving is more widespread than ever, and now people aren't just talking they are taking their eyes off the road for extended periods whilst they read texts/emails/tweets and facebook. Yet none of these people will be caught by a camera.
    Driver education, and training, is desperately needed. Most people who drive have little or no interest in the act of driving and don't think about it, and THAT is the problem. Who is more dangerous, a driver concentrating 100% on driving, but a few MPH over an arbitrary limit, or someone who stays in the middle lane of a motorway (because it's so much easier than actually concentrating!) for mile after mile, drifting between 70 and 60MPH whilst they browse their smartphone, totally oblivious to what's happening around them?
    Someone who is not prepared to concentrate on driving, and forfeit other activities, whilst being in control of a tonne of metal should not be driving. Would anyone accept that a coach driver or lorry driver could look at email/tweets or facebook whilst driving? No, and yet many drivers do just that, and they should be banned, not fined, banned They should then have to pass a ROSPA course, not just some basic DVSA test.

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  • Paul Gauntlett - 09/02/2015 13:40

    I agree if you stay within the limit you won't get fined, and all us drivers should do that. However there has to be some sensible regulation / guidance around when a speed limit can be changed on a Motorway. Too often there is a restricted speed limit on a free-flowing motorway [which suggests revenue raising] or a significent change in speed limit (ie from 70 to 40) when a graduated slow down (if needed) would be better and safer.
    Personally I'd be happy to see more police on the road enforcing safe driving for the road conditions rather then the multitude of camera's and differing speed limits.

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  • Ian M - 09/02/2015 13:49

    "Nichols continued: “Average speed cameras on motorways are visible and drivers should recognise signs telling them they are in an area where speed enforcement cameras can operate"

    I suspect Mr Nicholls has never driven on these sections of motorways, the cameras are NOT clearly visible as they are on the opposite side of the gantry to the average speed sign which does a very nice job of hiding them plus they are grey so they blend in with the framework around them.
    Because of this they are not a deterrent and were obviously never designed to be one. Put them on top of the average speed sign, paint them yellow as they are required to be and that will be far more effective at slowing motorists to the posted limit.

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  • Andy Titterton - 09/02/2015 13:59

    It would be good to know this sort of thing from a single source, ie the Government department responsible. So many articles like this seem to change with the wind, and while it is obviously the safest bet not to break the speed limit, many people believe that the cameras are only active when the speed restrictions are in force, and not when the gantry signs are switched off.
    While still in rant mood, why do the local highways authorities show inconsistent rules regarding use of the hard shoulder in managed motorway areas? My belief is that a hard shoulder can only be driven on when the gantry sign makes reference to the lane, yet around the M6 and M42 areas in the Midlands cars and lorries seem oblivious of the change of use of the lanes at certain times.
    Flashing red lights above the lane? Is this a new instruction meaning 'overtake all law abiding motorists waiting their turn and cut them up in a mile or so'.........?

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  • TR - 10/02/2015 08:51

    I have give this some thought overnight and looked at the bigger picture of these managed motorways. Having joined the M6 heading North from the M5 I noted the traffic which was almost stationary until after junction11. Is this what we call progress and managed motorways.It has always been busy around this area but now it is diabolical and occurs daily.They are currently installing "managed motorway" systems from junction 10 to junction 13 which is strange consideriong that there is not a problem with traffic on this stretch or none I have seen for the last 4 years.
    I think that the system should be renamed Mismanaged Motorways as this would be more appropriate to what is going on with 40mph signs flashing when the roads are flowing freely.
    Can anyone expalin what it is all about

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  • Reg Willcox - 10/02/2015 12:09

    You wouldn't expect BRAKE to say anything really not matter if these cameras are a licence to print money. Speed on Motorways can be dangerous, it can also be safe under the right conditions. If these cameras do not make any distinction between 75 on a clear road with little or no traffic and 70 at busy times, then they are nothing more than cash generators no matter what the agencies and the police say

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