RAC Cars News


A Quarter Of Fixed Speed Cameras Go Unused

By raccars Published

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Price comparison website, Confused.com, has revealed that almost a quarter of the UK's fixed speed cameras were not switched on in 2014, with police relying on mobile speed traps to catch offenders instead. Data supplied by a Freedom of Information request showed that of the 1,714 fixed speed cameras on UK roads, 391 were not in use last year.

According to police statistics, the 345 mobile units which were used instead proved to be more effective at catching speeding drivers. In 2013, 1,594,132 drivers were caught speeding compared to 1,743,252 in 2014. An analysis of the circumstances of how drivers are caught showed a capture rate three times higher for mobile units than fixed cameras, which were responsible for catching about a million offenders, compared to the 774,537 offences caught by the less numerous mobile units.

Speed cameras were introduced 23 years ago in the UK by policeman, Roger Reynolds. However, even he has expressed doubt about the way they are currently employed. He fears that police are using them to make money from minor offenders, when they could help to enforce stricter penalties on more dangerous drivers, who pose a genuine threat to road safety. He activated the first Gatso camera in the UK on Twickenham Bridge, at the time a notorious black spot for accidents.

His concerns are backed up by statistics showing that over a third of offenders are caught exceeding the speed limit by only about 5-9mph. Thirteen per cent break the speed limit by only 1-4mph. Those going 20-29mph faster than the legal limit make up only 6% of those caught. There are also speeding extremes, such as a car caught by Avon and Somerset police earlier this year, driving at 144mph.

Further concerns are raised as 5% of motorists claim that they have been involved in an accident because of fixed cameras. Twenty per cent of drivers have reported witnessing other cars driving erratically around speed cameras. Two thirds of drivers said that they only slow down when there are speed cameras in the area and regularly break the speed limit in areas where they are sure no speed cameras are present.

A spokesperson for Confused.com pointed out that although many British tax payers may be annoyed by funding speed cameras which are not even being used and are, arguably, not that effective even when they are active, drivers should follow speed limits as a matter of course, rather than to avoid being caught by speed cameras.

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