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Why speed cameras?

Most speed cameras are managed by multi-agency partnerships set up with the objective of reducing road casualties. They are known to be a successful way of achieving this; the Transport Research Laboratory reported in 1993 that every 1mph reduction in average speed led to a 5 per cent reduction in collisions. This finding was confirmed by a further study ten years later. In 2013, according to Department of Transport statistics, 3,064 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes where speed was a factor. However, for many motorists, mobile speed cameras are mainly a source of anxiety. For those who already have penalty points on their licence, or for whom disqualification might mean loss of livelihood, this is an unnerving form of surveillance.

Greater transparency - the rules and regulations

Since 2001, government policy has been in favour of transparency. According to the Department of Transport's spokesperson at the time; 'The purpose of the safety cameras is to curtail speed, not to catch out drivers. That is why we insist that police forces setting up cameras do it only in areas where there is a proven link between speeding and accidents. Where they employ mobile cameras, the police car must be highly visible and the officers must wear fluorescent jackets. The locations of cameras will be publicised on the Inter-net, in the local Press and on the radio.

Nonetheless, motorists still often complain that they have been caught unawares. and many have claimed that cameras are in fact a revenue-raising scheme for the local authorities.

Information about camera locations

In line with their claims that speed cameras are intended to deter rather than penalise, many local authority road safety partnerships regularly publicise updated lists of camera locations. At the same time they often release statistics about convictions and accidents in the previous month. A recent area to go online with this data is Gloucestershire, whose spokesman said; “... if someone looks at the list and adjusts their behaviour when they are driving along that road clearly this will have been a success.”

Speed camera detectors and satnav warnings

There are various speed camera detectors on the market, but few of them work with every kind of camera system. Most satnav systems can include information about the location of fixed speed cameras, but this may only give information from the date of the software installation. Other models can be updated regularly using the published databases, and may therefore also include mobile speed camera locations; but before relying on these devices, motorists need to ensure that they know how accurate they are likely to be.

Using speed camera warning systems abroad

If travelling in Europe, motorists should be aware that many countries, including France, have laws prohibiting the carrying of speed camera warning and detection systems. The system does not have to be in use; in theory at least, mere possession is a serious offence.

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