Camouflage “stealth” cameras catch 700 M25 speeders in two months. And, they’re coming to a motorway near you soon!
In November 2014, “smart” speed cameras were introduced to a stretch of the M25 in Kent which, in just over 2 months, have resulted in nearly 700 drivers receiving speeding fines.
Dubbed "stealth cameras” by critics, the devices use digital technology for the first time, to catch motorists breaking the 70mph motorway speed limit. However, The Times reports that 22% of M25 drivers penalised received fines for exceeding 40-60mph variable speed limits. A total of 668 drivers have been fined, with 520 drivers penalised for breaking the 70mph speed limit.
In 2012, the former Transport Secretary Philip Hammond dismissed the 70mph motorway speed limit as “out of date”. He proposed that the speed limit should be increased to 80mph, since many drivers travelling over 70mph on motorways are “perfectly decent people”. Hammond failed to follow through with his proposal and it seems that today’s Highway Agency disagrees. New plans are set to crack down on speeders by rolling out the next generation "smart" speed cameras across the UK’s busiest motorways, including the M1, M3, M6 and M60.
Motoring organisations have reacted angrily and condemned plans as motivated by income generation from fines rather than road safety concerns. They have also suggested that the decision to paint the new devices grey (rather than the highly visible yellow paint used on many existing speed cameras) camouflages the cameras to catch drivers off guard.
Other concerns include drivers’ lack of understanding surrounding speeding restrictions because many drivers believe that fines cannot be imposed for driving up to 10% over the motorway speed limit. Speed enforcement guidelines still state that penalties are enforced when a driver is “10% over the speed limit plus 2mph”. The Director of the RAC Foundation, Professor Stephen Glaister, commented “ If the new approach is one of zero tolerance then it needs to be equally applied across the network and understood by motorists and police forces”.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) seem to agree with Hammond’s earlier views and recommend that drivers aren’t charged unless they exceed 79mph in a 70mph zone.
Although, RAC data concludes that 800 more people would be seriously injured or killed each year without speed cameras. Studies have also shown that a massive 95% of drivers admit to breaking speed limits on motorways.
So, are the plans to roll out digital cameras across UK motorways a money-making scheme or a legitimate road safety precaution? Join the discussion on social media.