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MPs call for more average speed cameras across UK

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MPs have suggested that more average speed cameras should be deployed on UK roads to catch motorists who drive too fast.

The total number of detected motoring offences has more than halved over the past decade: in 2004, the number of offences was 4.33 million, whereas in 2013 – the last year for which figures are available – there were 1.62m.

MPs on the Transport Committee claim some of this reduction may be down to decreased detection, as a result of cuts to specialised road traffic police.

It says more must be done to ensure detection rates are high, whether through specialised police officers or the greater use of technology.

Speed cameras, says the Transport Committee’s report on road traffic enforcement, are an “important and effective part of the technology toolkit” and, if enforcement is going to be effective, greater use of technology is essential.

It says that average speed cameras are generally “better received by motorists than traditional fixed speed cameras”, but existing schemes should be assessed for their long-term effectiveness and, based on this, Highways England should develop best practice for their deployment.

The report also says that, in pursuing any aim to improve speed limit compliance, speed camera placement must relate to safety rather than revenue, and be sited in such a way that aims to reduce casualties.

“We recommend that the Government monitor the placement of speed cameras by local authorities to ensure that this is the case,” the report continues. “Where revenue is taken from speed camera enforcement, the funding arrangements must be transparent and the revenue put back into road safety grants rather than kept by local authorities or the Treasury.”

The vast majority of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) issued for exceeding the speed limit are camera detected – 90% in England and Wales in 2014, accounting for 668,081 out of 743,054 FPNs.

The revenue generated by speed cameras is collected by the Treasury and goes into the consolidated fund – the main account of the Treasury. It is not specifically allocated for road safety purposes.

Data from the Department for Transport (DfT) shows that exceeding the speed limit was a contributory factor in 254 fatal accidents in 2014, 16% of all fatal accidents, as well as 1,199 serious accidents, making it the fourth most prevalent contributory factor in fatal collisions.

David Davies, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) told the committee that the A9 scheme in Scotland, which is now the longest non-motorway stretch of road with average speed cameras, has seen “safety and traffic benefits” that so far seem to have been “substantial”.

Analysis by technology association Intelligent Transport Systems suggests that the proportion of vehicles speeding in the A9 controlled zone fell from as high as 40% to roughly 10%, since the introduction of average speed cameras.

It said, where average speed camera enforcement is used as part of a casualty reduction measure, ‘killed or seriously injured’ rates dropped on average by more than 70%.

However, many fleets remain unconvinced of the road safety benefits of speed cameras.

A recent Fleet News poll showed that only one-third (33.5%) of respondents thought their use benefited road safety.

The suggestion of the greater use of speed cameras also comes in the wake of data from Lex Autolease showing that the total fines and penalties bill for businesses came in at £11.1m last year, up 17% on 2014.

And, according to the 2015 RAC Report on Motoring, seven in 10 motorists say they regularly or occasionally break the 70mph speed limit, which suggests there is an issue of compliance.

"It’s important that the solution to that problem offers a range of alternatives, and average speed cameras can be part of this,2 said RAC public affairs manager Nick Lyes.

“The benefit in using average speed cameras is that they have the advantage of measuring speed over distance, which is in marked contrast with fixed cameras which are often criticised for encouraging sharp braking and acceleration by drivers as they react to the cameras. This reaction can be a potential cause of accidents and does not help maintain steady flow of traffic.

"In addition, indications from the use of average speed cameras over a long distance on the A9 in Scotland appear to show positive compliance levels and a reduction in road traffic accidents.

“However, motorists will feel that the enforcement of road traffic law is not only about installing more cameras. The decline in road traffic police officers in recent years has been a worrying trend, with a 23% reduction in England and Wales between 2010 and 2014.

"The presence of road traffic police officers can also play a big part in improving both safety and compliance, as well as giving motorists a sense that law breakers are not just simply getting away with it.”

While recommending the greater use of average speed cameras, Louise Ellman, chairman of the Transport Committee, also recognises that they alone will not make UK roads safer.

“Inappropriate speed was a contributory factor in 16% of fatal collisions,” she said. “The vast majority of FPNs issued for exceeding the speed limit are camera-detected, but cameras cannot identify whether the driver is under the influence of alcohol or was driving carelessly.

“If enforcement of road traffic laws is to be effective, the decline in specialist roads policing officers must be halted.”

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  • Nigel Boyle - 22/03/2016 11:32

    The problem here is these camera work for 'steady speed' roads, eg dual carriage way or motorways. These are inheretly the savest roads; a person averaging 90 on a country lane is a lethal missile, but this technology will not work here. New technology is needed for the dangerous roads.

  • Petrol Paul - 22/03/2016 11:51

    I've no issue with average speed camera's - much safer than one static camera. However they must be used appropriately - where needed and at an appropriate speed limit. Stretches of Motorway of 10 miles or more (like the M1 recently) at 50mph where there is no traffic work actually happening is just pointless and dumbs down the speed awareness message.

  • Busterrabbit - 22/03/2016 12:05

    So exceeding the speed limit wasn't a factor in 84% of fatal accidents and the logic is to install more speed cameras? By far a bigger problem is drivers "multitasking" and using smartphones to read email, twitter, facebook etc. and cameras are not going to catch them. We need traffic Police to catch the people I see every day scrolling through their phones whilst on the motorway. Personally I'd rather have someone doing 80MPH and devoting their full attention to driving than doing 70MPH and chatting via twitter, and don't get me started on "yummy mummies" in 4x4s who spend more time looking backwards and talking to Tqrquin than where their actually going, they're probably not speeding so that's allright then! A Range Rover doing 30MPH still has a tremendous amount of kinetic energy.

  • Steve - 22/03/2016 12:15

    As a 30K+ mile per annum driver my feeling is that average speed cameras deter excessive speed but create further, more dangerous problems. Lane discipline disappears, vehicles travel at between 50-55 in all three lanes and many drivers cease to pull into a clear lane on their left. This then creates numerous difficulties when trying to manoeuvre to the left hand lane in order to access an exit slip road. How much extra time to drivers spend looking at their speedo rather than at the road?

  • Kevin May - 22/03/2016 12:26

    If the government was serious about stopping speeding on motorways and Dual carriageways, a camera at each entrance and exit that timed vehicles and calculated speeds would stop speeding overnight if automatic tickets were issued from this system. A system like this could have been introduced decades ago. But the sad truth is, this isn't about speeding control and making the roads safer, this is about government revenue collection, stealth taxes.

  • bob the engineer - 22/03/2016 15:43

    Perhaps MP's should give drivers a break and devote the little time they required to work to more pressing matters like the total mess Europe is in, national security, drafting trade agreements when we exit the EU, getting some investment and some power stations built before the lights go out and many, many other things. You can be sure of only one thing when ever the government takes any interest in the motorists its because there is money to be milked.

  • JP - 24/03/2016 09:02

    Bonkers idea. Did we elect these idiots?

  • Darren - 29/03/2016 08:21

    They've recently put average speed cameras in on the A40 into London, but it hasn't helped at all. The traffic still can't get anywhere near the speed limit most of the time :-)

  • Dave Smiggs - 19/04/2016 13:18

    A lot about automating cars and speeding. Surely, the answer is to have the speed recorded by the vehicle and give police the means to read those recordings instantly when they pull you over. If everyone knew that somewhere in the country there was still at least one traffic officer left and he might be around the next corner doing random checks or going round carparks doing checks. The findings could result in fines and also be fed into the insurance industries computers to affect that drivers future insurance! Speeding would soon become too expensive. BIG BROTHER really would be watching you then, in real time!

  • Dave Russell - 08/05/2016 07:43

    So, overall detected offences have dropped. But I bet speed offences have increased, That means detections of drunks,druggiies reckless, mobile use etc have probably fallen through the floor due to lack of traffic police who have effectively been replaced with camers. Yet still whilst 84% of fatals don't involve excess speed at all and noting that it was only a contributory factor and not necessarily the main cause in the 16% (excess speed also not necessarily above the speed limit) it is quite incredible that the only solution MPs can see is to continue ignoring the causes of well over 84% of crashes and focus on more speed cameras. Cameras are fine in their place, where speed is a problem and leading to crashes. But the temptation is always to place them at maximum revenue sites where the speed limit has simply been badly set leading to low compliance. We need limits that are set scientifically by experts if we are to achieve compliance and maximise safety, not by politicians who often don't have a clue about the science of setting speed limits and simply always believe lower has to be safer rather than the truth which is that 'appropriate to the road in question' maximises safety.

  • Amanda Young - 08/05/2016 08:13

    Average speed cameras are a menace. They discourage drivers from paying attention to the task of driving. They create dangerous situations where vehicles bunch up, and force you to travel right alongside HGVs that you would normally pass quickly. They turn people into mindless automatons - sadly exactly what the powers that be want.

  • Terry Hudson - 09/05/2016 09:21

    Speed Kills? So what speed is that? Only PREVAILING conditions dictate that a certain speed is un-safe. With limited road space, why not make best use of it and not keep clogging it up with trendy schemes based on junk science statistics! Speed camera manufactures/suppliers have millions of pounds to spend on lobbying MP's, Police and Highway Authorities, so what chance has the safe driver to defend themselves against such continued attacks?

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