Home PageFacebookRSS News Feed
PocketGPS
Web
Read the current newsletter! Weekly
Newsletter
SatNav,GPS,Navigation
Get Speed Camera Warnings For SatNavs Get Speed Camera Warnings For Android Get Speed Camera Warnings For iPhone
Speed Cameras: Cash Machines or Safety Systems?


Article by: Mike Barrett
Date: 30 Sep 2009

pocketgpsworld.comLove them or hate them in our modern high-tech society Speed Cameras are here to stay. For the last few months I have been re-evaluating my opinions about speed cameras. I am still unconvinced about some of the applications by the authorities, but it is the overall concept that I have been thinking about.

-Could it be that we are living in a Darwinian society, but not with the survival of the fittest, but the survival of the law abiding?
-Have Speed Cameras evolved to a level where they really do affect long term driving habits?
-Are our perceptions of speeding changing: is speeding becoming like drink-driving?
-Are we happy for our movements to be continually monitored on the roads?

This article looks at some of these issues...

My original thoughts were in favour of Red Light Cameras (despite being caught by one myself). I dont see how anyone can argue that running a red light is a valid thing to do!!! What red light cameras do is to highlight the fact that there are problems at the junction. Now when I went through a red light I simply didnt think that the lights would change so quickly on a 70MPH stretch of road. When I made enquiries I discovered that the green, amber, red sequence is the same timing for a 70MPH junction or a 20MPH junction. This obviously makes the faster junctions more dangerous.

It therefore makes perfect sense for the locations of the junctions with a high proportion of accidents to have Red Light Cameras installed. But it also makes a lot more sense for these locations to be published. To my mind there is no point in fining someone after an accident if that accident could have been prevented in the first place. Therefore I think that there SHOULD be Red Light Cameras on all dangerous intersections and that these should be published and publicised.

Moving on to speed cameras these are more difficult to justify. First let me point out the obvious: If you stay within the speed limit then you will not be prosecuted.

Previously when you saw anything from the Speed Camera Partnerships (SCP) it was always bashing on about safety and casualty reduction but with no "real" studies or figures to back it up. However with a lot of the typical locations (hidden round a bend at the bottom of a hill) these looked very much like cash generators. Couple that with the fact that the Government made a big mistake by allowing the SCP to take a cut of the fine and there was no way that the SCP was going to get favourable press and looking at the way some of them act it is not surprising. Even Steven Norris (the Transport Minister who introduced Speed Cameras) admits that they got it wrong with the implementation and funding of Gatso cameras. The SCPs do not have any credibility with the general public, neither do they seem to be making any overtures to organisations who could support them. It also doesn't help when they keep repeating ad nauseam that "Speed Kills" it doesn't!!! A friend of mine in an SCP states that "Speed doesn't kill, but inappropriate speed does.". This is the message that we need to get across.

It has been proven that the Static Speed Camera is really not very effective. In fact it could be argued that they create more problems on the roads than if they were not there. If you travel on the M25 or the M42 during the variable speed "congestion" easing times when the roads are pretty much empty you see drivers slowing down to the set limit for the camera and then speeding up again. Clearly this is not the effect that the system was designed for and indeed it creates a wave effect causing more congestion. The same can be seen at the roadside Gatso speed camera sites. People panic brake when they see them! This can cause more traffic problems than when they were not there it certainly does not help with free flowing traffic.

So this is where average speed cameras score. They are able to monitor long stretches of road and keep the racers from speeding and then suddenly braking. This is where my opinions of speed cameras are changing. I abhor the rather cynical approach of some authorities where with little or no publicity cameras suddenly start appearing, then after we are used to them being there the speed limit suddenly drops... However when they are used responsibly the only people they are 'catching' is the people who are genuinely breaking the law. The new SPECS3 average speed cameras are designed to take the average speed enforcement one step further and monitor an area rather than just a stretch of road. This is currently being promoted as protecting 20MPH school areas.

I must admit that the SPECS average speed cameras do work. I expect that they work in ways that they were not designed to, but they still work. I may be controversial here, but to my mind most accidents occur when making some form of manoeuvre, be it entering or leaving a motorway, or changing lanes combined with a differential in speed of the different cars. This is often because people mis-judge or even dont see other road users. SPECS average speed tend to slow everyone down to approximately the same speed, this alleviates the need to change lanes as there is no advantage to be gained from it as you cannot go any faster. The knock on effect of this is that cameras originally intended to protect the work force actually reduce accidents and thus improve traffic flow. I used to travel 120 miles a day around the M25 mainly through constant roadworks, these were plagued with minor accidents (but long delays) recently travelling through roadworks the only delays I have been subject to is through lane restrictions. I have seen very few incidents in the SPECS controlled works.

I think that Speeding is becoming a campaigning platform similar to Drink Driving. Some time ago it was almost acceptable to drive after having had too much to drink. This was almost part of the culture, but from our (correct) perspective today was completely crazy. Over the last 20 years the people who drive after drinking too much are no longer regarded in a favorable light. In fact drink (or drug) drivers are now social outcasts. Is is possible that in 10 years time speeders will be viewed in the same light?

I often hear people justifying their "right" to speed because the road was clear, the conditions dry, the visibility good, but at the end of the day they are breaking the law pure and simple! Now many years ago the speed limit was unrestricted on rural roads, but then this was changed to National Speed Limit of 70MPH. I personally think that this could be extended to 80 or 85 particularly on rural motorways. The point is that the law says 70 and to go faster is breaking the law. Black and white, no argument. However if we all think this is wrong then we should approach our political representatives about it. They are elected by us to implement what the majority of the voters want.

You could argue that employing more Police (or Community Support Officers) to monitor and ticket offences is the appropriate thing to do. A person witnessing an event can make a judgement on the seriousness of the infraction, not just issue a ticket automatically. However looking at the same sort of thing with parking, a traffic warden is unlikely to be swayed by your excuse... A few seconds into the penalty period and you get ticketed. One the biggest issues with all these camera systems is the robot enforcement nature where you are not spoken to at the time.  That is what irks many drivers and even Police officers dislike the fact that they do not get the opportunity to speak to and perhaps educate a driver AT THE TIME the offence or an alleged offence is committed. There are many cases where a technical breach has occurred but where a human officer would not issue a penalty but instead offer advice. Cameras have zero discretion and no understanding of any causal factors or events preceding an offence.

If you thought Speed Cameras were the extent of enforcement then you would be very surprised to hear that similar projects are being developed for community policing as well. This brings me to one of my pet peevs: Personal Privacy. One of the things that I dislike about the way our society is heading is the constant surveillance that we are being subjected to. Maybe this is just a sign of the times, but one of my objections to SPECS is that my number plate is read and recorded. Currently this is only being used for speed infraction enforcement, but who knows where that will lead to? However my objection to that was blown completely out of the water at the Traffex expo earlier this year where I discovered that there are many roadside surveillance systems that record your car details for all sorts of reasons. With that in mind who knows what is being recorded and what it is bring used for? The SPECS details are just another drip in the flood of data that governmental agencies are collecting about us and our movements. I for one am somewhat wary about this, none of it has been properly explained to the public in general and the government has an appalling record on keeping our private data secure. Having data protection and freedom of information acts is good, but only works if you know who is collecting your information and where it is being used.

Of course I cant have it both ways. The ANPR systems are used to detect stolen cars, cross check cars against registration places, check for valid TAX and MOT, etc. they are also used to generate traffic flow information and analysis. All of these are things that I also feel strongly should be enforced and implemented.

In summary I am beginning to come round to the fact that Speed Cameras can be beneficial on many different levels, and pose no further infringements on our liberty or privacy than other systems that have been sneaked in. I think that we should have an open government policy regarding enforcement of this type and have a national independent body representing users as well as operators to oversee the implementation and running of these schemes. We should have clear and published statistics showing the number of tickets issued, the cost of installation and the reduction (or increase) in accidents measured in a scientific manner taking into consideration all pertinent factors. When those conditions have been met then it will be clear if the cameras work or are just Government Cash Machines as is currently the popular belief.
Comments
Posted by Darren on Wed Sep 30, 2009 1:55 pm Reply with quote

Personally my dislike of all camera enforcement is due to the robot nature of them.

Unlike a real Police Officer, they have no discretion and no understanding of other factors that may or may not be valid mitigation.

A driver receiving an NIP in the post two or more weeks later has much less chance of recalling the offence. If he/she were stopped and spoken to at the time it may be that a verbal warning would serve both as an immediate confirmation of the offence and perhaps be accompanied by some advice rather than an automatic financial penalty.

A robot ticket offers no education.

Who amongst us has not driven in traffic keeping up with everyone else and found that they were speeding?

If everyone is speeding then there other factors that need attention such as road design, driver distractions and perhaps car design.


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
Posted by Allan_whoops on Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:24 pm Reply with quote

The problem is unintended consequences. The use of speed cameras has meant that Police forces have reduced or done away with traffic divisions. This has meant a substantial drop in the general standard of driving especially on motorways (try the M25 at the weekend and you will see some regular and good examples). Both are needed.

In addition, call me cynical, but in Surrey, rather than repair the road, they reduce the speed limit and put up cameras. Quids in all round. Save money and generate revenue. Good example is the ex dual carriageway near Dorking.


 
Posted by Philip on Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:10 pm Reply with quote

Where do I start?

1) What do you feel about Red Light cameras that have captured people who have moved out of the way to let an ambulance or fire brigade through? There have been a number of such cases documented and the car drivers have subsequently been prosecuted. A camera cannot display any judgement or common sense whatsoever.

2) No mention of the Regression To Mean effect of static cameras and the spurious statistics used to justify them.

3) Perhaps the question is around "should we have speed limits" rather than about how draconian the enforcement is. Who exactly is the victim if I drive at 100mph when the conditions permit (that infamous empty dry motorway), and why should we have laws about it?

4) Comparison with drink driving is not really valid. Would you rather that the car coming towards you was over the (posted) speed limit, but with a sober driver, or that it was travelling within the speed limit but the driver was drunk?

5) Speed cameras are there to enforce a completely arbitrary speed limit, which rarely (if ever) is determined for safety reasons, and which cannot differentiate between different conditions (weather, traffic density, time of day, etc, etc)

6) As you say, much of the technology which is labelled as "speed reduction" is there either to track where we travel (and I DO worry about this), or to put in place the infrastructure to allow for road pricing.


Philip

 
Posted by DennisN on Wed Sep 30, 2009 10:51 pm Reply with quote

Philip Wrote:
Where do I start?

With the color button, please. Next time can we have black, not hard to read blue, please.


Dennis

Where there's a will .... there's a wake.

 
Posted by 253 on Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:12 pm Reply with quote

You don't get a 'Real Policeman' these days. 12 years of closet communism and related policies has seen to that. And if Coco had his way it would continue.
Nope, the way things work these days is, it's everyone's else responsibility/fault - but never mine.

So, it's all done at arms length by machines. That way no one is 'liable'.

If this is 'off topic' then apologies. I blame Lindemans.


Triumph Tbird 1700. And now a Bonnie T100 as well.

 
Posted by nashogg on Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:17 am Reply with quote

Edited by DennisN to get the quote/unquote bits into vision. Sorry, but I really couldn't be bothered to get the colouring right!

Philip Wrote:
Where do I start?

Somewhere rational would be good...

Quote:
1) What do you feel about Red Light cameras that have captured people who have moved out of the way to let an ambulance or fire brigade through? There have been a number of such cases documented and the car drivers have subsequently been prosecuted. A camera cannot display any judgment or common sense whatsoever.
I am old enough to remember this sort of spurious argument about seat belt introduction. Everybody knew someone who had been flung from the car and had their life saved because they were not wearing a seat belt - so before we introduce seat belts we should wait for sentient belts that would let us leave by a side window if the steering column was going to crush our chest? How many tens of thousand of people would be dead now rather than enjoying the possibility of reading this post if the authorities had listened to that hokum?

Quote:
2) No mention of the Regression To Mean effect of static cameras and the spurious statistics used to justify them.
It didn't get mentioned by the author because either he didn't know about it, or he correctly believed it was entirely irrelevant. If people are interested in the statistical effect they can make a start here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_toward_the_mean

Quote:
3) Perhaps the question is around "should we have speed limits" rather than about how draconian the enforcement is. Who exactly is the victim if I drive at 100mph when the conditions permit (that infamous empty dry motorway), and why should we have laws about it?
If we could see in to the future we could tell you the names of your victims - but unfortunately we can't. If we could, then I am sure those unfortunates (if indeed there will be any) would arrange to be somewhere else when you were passing by. Your key phrase for me here is 'when the conditions permit'. What you are asking me to do is to trust you to be able to compute the key conditions at all times, and drive accordingly - sorry I don't trust you or anybody else out on the roads, including myself, to do that accurately and consistently. And if that means that sometimes I could have driven a little bit faster than I am allowed to, and felt a little better about myself and my abilities, and have been a little less late than I would have liked because I didn't leave enough time to get there, well then that is the price that I would like to pay for being more certain that everyone I care for (and everyone I don't know and don't care for) is going to be safe and well when I get back. The fact that you don't want to pay that price is one of the reasons we are having this debate...

Quote:
4) Comparison with drink driving is not really valid. Would you rather that the car coming towards you was over the (posted) speed limit, but with a sober driver, or that it was traveling within the speed limit but the driver was drunk?
It is your comparison that is not valid - Drinking and speeding are not directly related. Can I have a sober driver coming towards me at the correct speed? Yes I can. Why then would I want to opt for an opportunity to have a sober driver coming at me at an excessive speed?

Quote:
5) Speed cameras are there to enforce a completely arbitrary speed limit, which rarely (if ever) is determined for safety reasons, and which cannot differentiate between different conditions (weather, traffic density, time of day, etc, etc)
No, cameras can't tell the difference (yet) between weather conditions and other environmental circumstances that you feel you can continuously compute efficiently, deriving a constantly varying view on your 'safe' speed to drive. Frankly, if it is a choice between your calculations, and the calculations of every other driver on the road, which will include the intellectually impaired, drunk, drugged, late, lost, or distracted by considering replies to posts on this forum, then the majority are better served with a properly considered pre-set speed. So the speed might be a bit low for your view of your competencies, the environment and the abilities of your vehicle, but so what exactly? - if you want to test your assumptions to the limit (and likely to be proved wrong in an exciting and interesting way - which F1 driver hasn't lost it?) take your car on track days where you can't do anyone else any harm, and you can prove to yourself, and anyone else who is interested, how good you are at driving.

Quote:
6) As you say, much of the technology which is labeled as "speed reduction" is there either to track where we travel (and I DO worry about this), or to put in place the infrastructure to allow for road pricing
Those are interesting issues, which need to be debated and understood. All technologies have the potential to be used in inappropriate ways. That is not an argument for abandoning those technologies, where they are applied for the greater good, but rather ensuring appropriate controls are in place. My mother in law is being treated for cancer, and part of her treatment is pain management using morphine. I would hope that nobody would deny her the appropriate application of morphine because the drug is abused in the community - that is a related but separate problem that needs its own solution.


 
Posted by Darren on Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:57 am Reply with quote

253 Wrote:
Nope, the way things work these days is, it's everyone's else responsibility/fault - but never mine.

Christ, don't get me started on the blame culture, that instantly sees my blood pressure hit the roof, fed up to the back teeth with the desire to always blame someone else for everything!

Not entirely sure its relevant here though. If I get fined for speeding by a a camera I have to accept it, can't blame anyone else but me for my driving but there is a desire to automate enforcement that is in my opinion very worrying. Doesn't matter if its a parking ticket or a speeding fine, it ought not be enforced by a robot camera but instead a real human being.

Would we accept convictions in court issued by a computer based on some arbitrary scoring system? Hell no so why accept the spread of enforcement cameras over real human police officers?


Darren Griffin - Editor

 
Posted by M8TJT on Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:34 am Reply with quote

Darren Wrote:
Doesn't matter if its a parking ticket or a speeding fine, it ought not be enforced by a robot camera but instead a real human being.

But it is generally assumed that Parking 'attendants' and wheel clampers are robotic in their actions, and generally show no discression! If a policeman shows discression and lets you off for committing a crime (speeding), is this right, or should he be 'enforcing the law' as some people caught speeding think? It might actually work better, but it's much easier to do it by a robotic camera/person.


 
Posted by nashogg on Thu Oct 01, 2009 8:45 am Reply with quote

Darren Wrote:
253 Wrote:
Nope, the way things work these days is, it's everyone's else responsibility/fault - but never mine.

Christ, don't get me started on the blame culture, that instantly sees my blood pressure hit the roof, fed up to the back teeth with the desire to always blame someone else for everything!

Not entirely sure its relevant here though. If I get fined for speeding by a a camera I have to accept it, can't blame anyone else but me for my driving but there is a desire to automate enforcement that is in my opinion very worrying. Doesn't matter if its a parking ticket or a speeding fine, it ought not be enforced by a robot camera but instead a real human being.

Would we accept convictions in court issued by a computer based on some arbitrary scoring system? Hell no so why accept the spread of enforcement cameras over real human police officers?


Because it is impractical to do it effectively, efficiently and continuously with people - who are by the way are probably as prone to make inappropriate decisions as technology (attractive woman, friend, chief constable, bribe, incorrect appraisal of the situation, prejudice, spite, jealousy, tiredness....). It is not a natural consequence of cameras that road policing is reduced, it is a policy decision, that can be changed.

Cameras and associated technologies are currently the most effective, consistent, and economical solution to reducing speeding, the consequences of which are often death, disability, suffering and pain to innocent human beings. And the benefits of doing it demonstrably outweigh the drawbacks, so for me of the two options, doing it imperfectly and seeking to improve the handling of exceptions is the best option.

If a tiny tiny minority of people get unjustly punished (and we are only talking about a fine and some points here!) by the relentless machine that takes the pictures, in my view that has to be a price worth paying, while working all the while to reduce that price still further.


 
Posted by MaFt on Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:26 am Reply with quote

i think the main question to ask is this: does 3 points and a £60 fine change the way people drive?

personally i don't think it does as 2 weeks later when the NIP arrives a) you probably don't even remember speeding and b) 'who cares what happened 2 weeks ago let's just pay the fine and get them off my back'

a 'good telling off' or talking to can, in my view, have a far better effect - even if it still results in 3 points and £60. i was done for speeding on a motorway back in 2006 (on my birthday of all days and while driving on my way to a holiday) - i let my concentration lapse (wife and kids were asleep in car, music on, satnav would beep if there was a speed camera etc) and got pulled over by an unmarked car doing 96mph... oops! sat in the back of the car i got my 'talking to' as well as 3 points and £60 (after the event i found out that this was very generous of the officer as in theory it should have gone to court). the end result now is i drive far more carefully in terms of my speed - not just on the motorway. if i'm late then tough, i'm late - my grandad always used to say "better 10 minutes late in this world than 10 minutes early in the next".

i honestly believe that if i had received a ticket through the post 2 weeks after the event then it would not have made any difference - pay the machine and carry on regardless.

i don't think anyone here is saying that by getting caught by a real police officer (as opposed to machine) they should be instantly let off with a good 'talking to' but i think far more people would perhaps think more about their actions if it was a real human who gave the punishment - i know i did.

MaFt


MaFt®

 
Posted by BigPerk on Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:28 am Reply with quote

Cameras v Police - Yes indeed M8TJT - how many of us have heard, or even said, 'Why aren't you out chasing real criminals instead of minor, petty offenders like ME', illegal parkers, speeders etc.

Why should we be wasting expensive salaries on policemen & women to have them dealing with trivial or admin matters, instead of 'serious' crimes? EXACTLY the sort of thing that SHOULD be automated!


David
(Navigon 70 Live, Nuvi 360)

 
Click here to view more comments...
Reply to topic

CamerAlert Apps



iOS QR Code






Android QR Code







© Terms & Privacy

GPS Shopping