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FAQ's - General Queries

  1. Does the camera work at night or in the dark?
  2. Is there any evidence that speed cameras work?
  3. What has been the public’s reaction to the introduction of cameras?
  4. What is the true cost of speeding?
  5. Is the introduction of more ‘safety cameras’ (speed and red light cameras) just another stealth tax for motorists?
  6. Is this not another example of “bashing” the motorist?
  7. Will the system mean the police will adopt a policy of “zero tolerance”?
  8. Will netting off simply be an incentive for the police to place speed cameras as they will keep the fine revenue?
  9. Isn’t this just a measure to generate revenue for the police?
  10. Is there any evidence that speed cameras are having an effect on reducing casualties and slowing motorists down?
  11. Why is the government so concerned about speed when deaths on the road have fallen so sharply over the last 30 years?
  12. Why are there so many speed cameras on motorways yet few outside schools?
  13. Why paint cameras yellow?
  14. Is there evidence that yellow camera work better than grey ones?
  15. Surely making the camera so distinct will result in drivers slowing down for the cameras, then speeding up elsewhere thus increasing the risk of accident transference?
  16. What is the position regarding cameras that remain grey?
  17. What has been the public reaction to speed cameras?
  18. Wouldn’t it be better to educate bad drivers?

01 - Does the camera work at night or in the dark?

Yes. We have the capability to operate in poor light and in the dark. The camera has a low-level flash in order to illuminate the number plate. This flash is no more powerful than a car headlight. All fixed site cameras have a built-in flash that operates day and night.

02 - Is there any evidence that speed cameras work?

The short answer is yes. In the first two years of operation the number of injury collisions in this area has fallen by 27% and the number of people killed or seriously injured has reduced by 7%. However on those roads where cameras are used there has been a 44% reduction in crashes and a 17% reduction in casualties.

Also the average speed of vehicles on the roads has reduced by 12% and the percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit has been reduced from 64% to 33%. All this adds up to – much safer roads and fewer people being killed and injured.

03 - What has been the public’s reaction to the introduction of cameras?

Contrary to popular belief, public attitude surveys across the country show that around 80% of those asked believe cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep the limits rather than punish them and 70% believe that fewer collisions are likely to happen on roads where cameras are used

04 - What is the true cost of speeding?

A Parliamentary select committee has just reported that injury crashes are costing £17 billion every year. They estimated that a one third reduction in these crashes could save up to £10 million every week.

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05 - Is the introduction of more ‘safety cameras’ (speed and red light cameras) just another stealth tax for motorists?

No. The new system has to meet strict treasury criteria to prevent revenue from being used for anything other than camera funding. A tax is something all citizens must pay. The only people who will be subject to speeding fines will be those that break the law. Any funding arrangements will only meet the costs of the police, courts and highway authorities. The surplus will go to the treasury, as does all the existing fine revenue. The primary test on the new arrangement is whether it reduces casualties. Evidence from the pilots and an earlier study on camera effectiveness (Home Office, PRG police research series paper 20), is that casualties have reduced significantly both at camera sites and in the areas where cameras have been placed.

06 - Is this not another example of “bashing” the motorist?

On the contrary this will be of benefit to all people, including motorists. Cameras already shown to save lives – more effective, targeted use of cameras will save even more lives, many of which will be motorists. The only motorists who will suffer are those who break the law by speeding.

07- Will the system mean the police will adopt a policy of “zero tolerance”?

The police have made it clear that in recognition of ACPO guidelines on speed enforcement their role remains unchanged. Compliance of the legal speed limit is essential to reduce casualties. In 1996 NRPS (National Road Policing Strategy) set as an aim and objective to ‘contribute to the reduction of death or injury, damage or fear on our roads’. Casualty reduction is therefore at the heart of core policing activities.

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08 - Will netting off simply be an incentive for the police to place speed cameras as they will keep the fine revenue?

No. The rules for entry to the scheme demand that partnerships produce an operational case detailing the cost of their projected camera activity and casualty savings. They will only be reimbursed enough to cover the projected costs. All additional fine receipts go to the Treasury. Therefore there is simply no incentive to place cameras other than to improve road safety. It is also important to recognise that this is a multi-agency approach.

09 - Isn’t this just a measure to generate revenue for the police?

No. There has been some misreporting of this in the press. First, this is not a police initiative but a multi-agency approach. Second the application of the receipts will be strictly controlled, on a scheme-by-scheme and an area-by-area basis. They will be used to meet only the costs of the agencies involved in operating cameras and the related administrative activities. Additional funds in excess of the costs of operating the cameras will be paid into the treasury Consolidated Fund.

10 - Is there any evidence that speed cameras are having an effect on reducing casualties and slowing motorists down?

The evidence available suggests that motorists are slowing down in areas where speed cameras are located. The first year’s monitoring of results of the scheme has been very encouraging. On average at the camera sites the number of people killed and seriously injured fell by 47% compared to the average over the previous three years. Across the eight pilot areas as a whole the number of people killed or seriously injured dropped by 18%. On average the number of drivers speeding at camera sites dropped from 55% to 16%.

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11 - Why is the government so concerned about speed when deaths on the road have fallen so sharply over the last 30 years?

Success at tackling other road safety issues such as drink/driving and the fitting and wearing of seatbelts have contributed enormously to reducing road deaths. In more recent years the use of speed reducing measures such as road humps and the creation of 20mph zones have resulted in a reduction in casualties. But we need to continue to tackle excessive speed and the proper use of cameras has shown that they will remain important at continuing the downward trend in casualties.

12 - Why are there so many speed cameras on motorways yet few outside schools?

There aren’t. Apart from the M25 controlled motorway experiment and at road works, there are few cameras on motorways. Cameras are generally only effective at specific sites and school safety requires a greater zonal effect, although some may be present outside schools where local authorities and police have judged it necessary.

13 - Why paint cameras yellow?

For two reasons – First, fixed cameras are placed at sites where accidents most frequently occur, largely due to excessive speed. Drivers are more likely to slow down and therefore reduce the risk of collision if they are fully aware of the presence of a camera.

Second, drivers are more likely to respect the concept of enforcement by speed camera if they feel the enforcement is fair and open.

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14 - Is there evidence that yellow camera work better than grey ones?

It is too early to say but logic would dictate that if more drivers see the camera housings, more will slow down and accidents will reduce further.

15 - Surely making the camera so distinct will result in drivers slowing down for the cameras, then speeding up elsewhere thus increasing the risk of accident transference?

We recognise that camera surfing occurs with some motorists but the areas that have piloted the new funding system have shown that the increased use of fixed and mobile camera enforcement has influenced driver behaviour locally so that drivers comply more readily with speed limits. There is no reason why making fixed site cameras yellow should affect behaviour elsewhere.

16 - What is the position regarding cameras that remain grey?

The new visibility requirements do not form part of the prosecution process but are a rule of entry into the national scheme. They do not change the legal status of cameras. Drivers will not be able to claim, for example, a grey or obscured camera, is no longer a legal method for detecting speeding offences.

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17 - What has been the public reaction to speed cameras?

Public attitude surveys conducted in the pilot areas as part of the required monitoring show that around 80% of those asked believe cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to limits rather than to punish drivers, and nearly 70% believe that cameras result in dangerous drivers being more likely to get caught. Similarly nearly 70% believe that fewer accidents are likely to happen on roads where cameras are installed.

18 - Wouldn’t it be better to educate bad drivers?

Education and better driver training form important elements of effective speed management. However, proper enforcement of speed limits is also vital and cameras play an important role in enforcing limits.

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