Motorway speed cameras are to be rolled out to stop cars from going faster than 70mph, it was revealed yesterday. But already motoring groups are up in arms over the planned introduction, with claims that the scheme is nothing to do with safety on the roads, but a way of making money from drivers.
The cameras have also been criticised as they are not the bright yellow colour typically seen on A and B roads, but are a ‘stealth grey’, and designed not to be spotted by the motorist. It is this fact that has got car drivers so upset, as the introduction of these cameras is not being seen to caution drivers about their speed, but to catch them out without warning.
The cameras will be installed along hundreds of miles of motorway for the very first time, and situated on some of the busiest stretches, including the M1, M6 and M25. Cameras have been located on motorways before, but always on sections where road works were being undertaken, and used to slow down and enforce speed limits. But now the Highways Agency is now looking at a much wider spread of cameras, which they say are going to target drivers exceeding the 70mph.
It is thought that the cameras will be first installed along sections of smart motorways, where the traffic is already subject to stricter controls. And the Highways Agency is unrepentant about the installation of these cameras, as they argue that they will help to allow a better flow of traffic and prevent traffic jams forming.
Their critics however are not happy, and are adamant that this is all about generating an income through speeding fines. In fact, when you look at a recent survey carried out in Autocar magazine, with just under 95 per cent of motorists questioned admitted driving over the 70mph speed limit while on the motorway, this could be a veritable gold mine. There also does not seem to be the flexibility with these speed cameras, as traffic authorities have the discretionary power to offer alternatives to fines, such as speed awareness courses, to speeding drivers.
Roger Lawson, a spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD), said: “We are opposed to speed cameras in general. The evidence of their success in promoting safety is not good and in reality what is happening now is that the police are using speed cameras to fund their other activities through speed awareness courses.” He added: “If these cameras are grey rather than yellow they are going to be harder to spot and so will have no impact in slowing traffic down. If there is a good reason for the traffic to be slowed down then the cameras need to be as visible as possible.” Some critics, such as the ABD, actually want the speed limit to be increased on motorways, from 70 to 80mph.
The new cameras, which are called Highways Agency digital enforcement camera systems, or Hadsec3 for short, will be rolled out in the next two years, on more than 100 miles of motorway, and there are plans to extend the scheme on a further 400 miles of road.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “These are not stealth cameras they are more visible that they were before. These motorways are not about speed limits. They are about smoothing the traffic flows and increasing capacity.” The spokesman added that the new cameras would be signposted and said: “The onus is on the driver to abide by the speed limit.”