RAC Cars News


New Speed Camera Has Attitude

By raccars Published

Local authorities in the UK are apparently rushing to install a new range of 'super speed cameras,' which are said to be fifty times as productive as the standard model. The camera's makers claim to have been inundated with enquiries from councils but opponents to the system have condemned the use of the devices as money-grabbing and immoral.

Named the ZenGrab LaneWatch Mk2, the cameras are priced at £17,000 per unit and boast night vision and two lenses. When trialled for two weeks in two similar locations, the new devices registered over 1,000 speeding offences versus the standard Gatso's 271 in a year.

Councils are alleged to be upgrading their speed camera installations in anticipation of a change in regulations, which will see cameras used to penalise drivers for a wider range of offences. Proposals have been submitted to allow councils to fine motorists caught on camera performing illegal u-turns, right turns and violating 'no entry' signs. These regulations are already in force in London but the government is considering applying them countrywide.

Cameras outside London are used to identify cars exceeding the speed limit or using dedicated bus lanes. However with the new cameras, councils will be able to identify motorists violating yellow box junctions, in addition to the illegal turns.

Some cities have already grabbed the new technology, with Manchester installing 15 of the new cameras in the last month, Glasgow and Medway have already made the transition, while Nottingham has ordered upgrades to its existing camera network with ZenGrabs.

Meanwhile, motoring organisations and even some MPs are unimpressed, claiming there is a risk of turning motorists into 'cash cows' by penalising every minor violation. The criticism comes soon after research suggested that local authorities are using parking charges to generate revenue, making over £1.4 billion from parking fees from 2011-2012, more than £560 million of which was allegedly profit.

Gatso cameras were originally installed under a banner of road safety concerns. However, research showed that one particular camera outside Woodford, Essex, registered up to 500 speeding violations daily, resulting in almost £1 million in income from fine payments for the local council. Unfortunately, since the camera was installed at the spot, where the North Circular A406 joins the M11 motorway, accidents rose by nearly 25% and road casualties by nearly 50% upon pre-speed camera figures.

Further controversy was caused in 2011 when almost £1.5 million in speeding fines had to be refunded to over 24,500 motorists, when a camera on the A35 in Dorset was proved to have been operating illegally for a decade.

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