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Speed camera fines at four year high

Improved technology means more drivers are being caught despite lack of government funding

Ministry of Justice figures indicate that the number of speeding fines issued to motorists has risen to its highest level in the last four years. The rollout of a new generation of digital speed cameras appears to be driving an upsurge that has come despite a lack of government funding.

When the Coalition came into power Philip Hammond, the then transport secretary, pledged to end the “war on the motorist” and ruled out funding additional speed cameras at the same time as cutting 40 per cent from the Road Safety Grant.

In the wake of this, a large number of cameras were switched off and in 2011 a study carried out by the consumer organisation Which? claimed that fewer than half of the approximately 3,000 speed cameras installed on English and Welsh roads were operational.

However, the BBC reports that 115,549 motorists in England and Wales were issued with fines of at least £100 by magistrates last year – the highest level since the Coalition came into power in 2010.

In Essex, speeding rose by 44 per cent last year, while in Avon and Somerset the number increased by 34 per cent. In six other police areas, the number handed out by magistrates rose by around a quarter. The figures do not include motorists who have settled by paying fines, or fixed penalty notices, or by taking a driving awareness course.

A 2010 report by Professor Richard Allsop of University College London for the RAC Foundation concluded that a national speed camera switch off would cost 800 lives a year.

It was also reported that road deaths in Oxforshire rose by 50 per cent in the first six months in which speed cameras were switched off compared to a similar period the year before. However, Thames Valley Police have since been able to switch them back on again by cutting the office costs of administering the cameras by 25 per cent. By raising the threshold below which speed awareness courses are offered, more revenue can be kept. This is because fines have to be paid to the Treasury while money raised by speed awareness courses does not.

However, advances in technology appear to be of even greater significance. Edmund King, the President of the AA, told The Telegraph that the rise in fines reflected the fact that cameras are more efficient than ever. “In the past, cameras in London, they would only take valid pictures for a quarter of a day and it was pot luck whether you were fined. The cameras are now working 24 hours a day.”

New digital cameras are being phased in across the country. As well as being constantly in operation, they are also much more efficient to run. While they cost up to £10,000 to install, police officers are not needed to collect and develop the film. Instead, information is automatically sent to a control centre. The car is identified from its number plate and a notice of intended prosecution is then sent out. Average speed cameras operating across long stretches of road are also becoming more common on major roads and motorways.

According to the MoJ figures, the number of speeding fines in England and Wales issued by magistrates initially fell from 114,279 in 2010 to 110,191 the following year. Since then, however, the number has gradually risen.

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23 comments

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mike the bike | 9 years ago
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I had to laugh when I recently read that 88% of young, male drivers think they have above average driving skills. By definition only about half can be above that standard, so presumably 38% of blokes take an optimistic view of their abilities.

And of the 88% only a handful, too small to be statistically significant, had done any training after their basic test. It's amazing what you can learn from playing race games on your X-Box.

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jacknorell replied to mike the bike | 9 years ago
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mike the bike wrote:

I had to laugh when I recently read that 88% of young, male drivers think they have above average driving skills. By definition only about half can be above that standard, so presumably 38% of blokes take an optimistic view of their abilities.

And of the 88% only a handful, too small to be statistically significant, had done any training after their basic test. It's amazing what you can learn from playing race games on your X-Box.

Basically, their belief is exactly the inverse of fact... Young males are massively over-represented as 'at fault' in incidents.

I'd go as far as say that those in this group who didn't think they're better than average probably *are* the better drivers in this (male) age group...

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peterben | 9 years ago
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Agree entirely with andyp. Given that the majority of motorists (most of you included) break the speed limit 90% of the time it is an entirely voluntary tax. Remember those big signs at the side of the road with the numbers on?

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twowheeltoys replied to peterben | 9 years ago
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peterben wrote:

Remember those big signs at the side of the road with the numbers on?

You mean the sprint markers?

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Stumps | 9 years ago
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As Paul M rightly stated all the money raised by speed cameras goes directly to the govt coffers and not one penny is seen by local authorities and / or Police forces as in the USA.

Average speed cameras are the way forward as you have to stick to the speed limit or your knackered and not just slow down for the camera before accelerating again.

As for speed awareness courses and being run by ex cops. Where i work they are run thorugh the central ticket office which is run by civilians and has nothing to do with the Police, however i cannot comment on other forces and how they work.

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Housecathst | 9 years ago
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I'm generally in favour of anything that makes motorist lives more difficult and more expensive. In most cases it my live as a cyclist better.

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mike the bike | 9 years ago
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I would be more inclined to favour speed traps if, instead of collecting money, they simply switched a green traffic light to red and left it on for a full two minutes.
I believe such arrangements can be found in France and that they really work. Nobody wants to lose time for the sake of a few mph, neither do they relish the abuse they get from following motorists.

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Paul M replied to mike the bike | 9 years ago
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They do indeed have traffic lights set up to turn red if you approach them above the speed limit. There is one in a small village near my home in Brittany - it is set up as a light-controlled pedestrian crossing and it goes red without any pedestrians if you exceed the 50kph limit.

The cash cow argument doesn't really wash, because the cameras are installed at the expense of the local authority but the fnes are collected by the MoJ and don't go back to the local coffers.

Finally, ins't it effing irritating that the option to reply to a specific comment doesn't actually produce a reply to the specific comment?

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Bigfoz | 9 years ago
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Cameras may be cash cows, but they can't collect if you don't break the damn law in the first place!

Motorists may be being targeted, but it wouldn't be worth the hassle if they could obey the laws. Do the crime, do the time.

Personally I think cameras are a menace and drivers spend too much time looking for them and not enough time focused on what they should be doing. They do nothing to fix bad driving, and in some cases they contribute. Hate to say it, but if the roads are to be made safe(ish) then the cost of lots more traffic police would have to be accepted. Speeding is only 1 of a string of daft things car drivers do.

(BTW - Like most cyclists, I am also a car driver. bad drivers cause as many problems for other car drivers as for non car road users)

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Timsen | 9 years ago
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It isn't an argument or trolling, just an opinion. Apologies for my random Capitalisation & thanks for the education !

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jacknorell replied to Timsen | 9 years ago
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Timsen wrote:

It isn't an argument or trolling, just an opinion. Apologies for my random Capitalisation & thanks for the education !

I'm sorry if I got the wrong end of the stick.

But your post has the hallmarks of an uninformed 'debate':

- Unsubstantiated claim of motorists being cash cows (no data supporting it), while in real life motoring has become much cheaper over the past 15 years or so
- Hearsay about improper arrangements between police and speed awareness course providers
- A statement that statistics can be used to prove anything. OK, this is actually close to objective truth, but it's use here casts doubt on any figures used in previous comments or in the article, possibly deliberately

Basically, it reads like something out of the Daily Fail!

I do recall (sorry, can't find a source) that speed cameras usually cost councils money due to the providers' contractual structures. There certainly is central gov't funding for speed cameras available, which is being cut and councils are removing cameras because of it.

I'm thinking if the councils did operate their own rather than go to private companies, they'd make money.

Taxes and fees raised through motoring are only a fraction of the cost for society as a whole from private car use. This is an interesting read, at least the executive summary: http://www.ippr.org/assets/media/images/media/files/publication/2012/08/...

So, that's why I flagged up your post as trolling. I hope I'm wrong and it's simply misinformed.

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jacknorell | 9 years ago
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Fluffy... don't get involved in arguments with people Using Random Capitalisation... they're rarely anything but trolling in my experience.

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Timsen | 9 years ago
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I'm all for road safety but am very cynical about speed cameras & their effectiveness. It seems to me that Motorists are increasingly being treated as cash cows. I also heard recently about an allegation that there has been a cozy relationship between the Police and providers of Speed awareness courses run by ex coppers. Statistics can be manipulated to prove almost anything.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to Timsen | 9 years ago
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Timsen wrote:

I'm all for road safety but am very cynical about speed cameras & their effectiveness. It seems to me that Motorists are increasingly being treated as cash cows. I also heard recently about an allegation that there has been a cozy relationship between the Police and providers of Speed awareness courses run by ex coppers. Statistics can be manipulated to prove almost anything.

I don't know how effective they are - I certainly don't think they are the main answer to the problem of road safety, but I don't have anything against them either.

And if they are 'cash cows', how come there are so few of them, and why are councils so relucatant to install them on all the roads where motorists habitually speed?

If they raise so much cash we could probably do away with the council tax entirely if they were installed everywhere, given that speeding is pretty much universal with only a minority of drivers obeying limits.

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jacknorell replied to Timsen | 9 years ago
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Timsen wrote:

I'm all for road safety but am very cynical about speed cameras & their effectiveness. It seems to me that Motorists are increasingly being treated as cash cows. I also heard recently about an allegation that there has been a cozy relationship between the Police and providers of Speed awareness courses run by ex coppers. Statistics can be manipulated to prove almost anything.

BTW, I'm absolutely in agreement about the effectiveness of speed cameras for reducing accidents.

They just make people slow down for the camera, then resume driving badly right after...

A camera can't fine / prosecute a bad driver, unless that bad driver happens to be speeding. Speeding is not a factor in most accidents, inappropriate speed is, which is often lower than the limit.

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andyp replied to Timsen | 9 years ago
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Timsen wrote:

I'm all for road safety but am very cynical about speed cameras & their effectiveness. It seems to me that Motorists are increasingly being treated as cash cows. I also heard recently about an allegation that there has been a cozy relationship between the Police and providers of Speed awareness courses run by ex coppers. Statistics can be manipulated to prove almost anything.

Thing is, that motorists aren't being treated as cash cows. These cameras only tend to catch you if you're *speeding*. So there's a very simple opt-out of being a cash cow...

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darrenleroy | 9 years ago
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I wonder if speeding cameras actually 'pay their way' i.e. raise more in fines than it costs to build, install and service them. If the answer is yes I think we should have many more; they would raise income for the Treasury and discourage poor driving. Cameras at every ASL would be a good thing, and a guaranteed earner.

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Bob's Bikes | 9 years ago
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One suspects that most of these incidencies where bought about by average speed cameras on major roads, BUT even if that is the case this is shocking news because this percentage rise doesn't include paid fines/FPN's or people who opted for the driver training.  17

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Kim | 9 years ago
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Sadly the message on speeding just isn't getting through, cars aren't magic, they can't break the Laws of Physics and speed limits are there for a reason.

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mrmo replied to Kim | 9 years ago
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Kim wrote:

Sadly the message on speeding just isn't getting through, cars aren't magic, they can't break the Laws of Physics and speed limits are there for a reason.

No, i think the message is getting through, but the problem is "them", i am an above average driver, i can cope with the speed, i have a new car with decent brakes and steering, not like those driving old bangers.... Those doddery old idiots hogging the middle lane causing accidents should be banned, and those lorries that insist on overtaking, all they do is block the motorways...

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Notsofast replied to Kim | 9 years ago
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Kim wrote:

Sadly the message on speeding just isn't getting through, cars aren't magic, they can't break the Laws of Physics and speed limits are there for a reason.

The reason is largely arbitrary and has very little to do with physics.

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pablo | 9 years ago
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Any info on a breakdown of where all these tickets were issued? Just wondering if most are on sections of managed Motorway or if these have mainly been issued in town.

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mrmo replied to pablo | 9 years ago
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pablo wrote:

Any info on a breakdown of where all these tickets were issued? Just wondering if most are on sections of managed Motorway or if these have mainly been issued in town.

these are only magistrate cases, in theory the more serious cases, there may be some motorists trying to appeal but i suspect not that many.

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