Since their introduction in the UK in 1992, safety cameras (formerly known as speed cameras) have become one of the most controversial aspects of road safety strategy, at times dividing opinion among motorists, road safety professionals and activists and even within central and local government.
IAM RoadSmart research indicates 79% overall support for safety cameras as a safety measure. However 44% of respondents did not believe that cameras were always sited at collision hot spots and 44% felt that the main purpose of cameras was to raise revenue, not to improve road user safety.
Contrary to popular opinion cameras can only be installed after an exhaustive decision making process and all fines raised do go to the Treasury. All central government funding of safety cameras has ceased in England and Wales and local partnerships have had to look at new ways of funding. This has led to more widespread use of speed awareness courses with locally retained income.
These funding changes also coincided with the need to replace wet film cameras with more expensive digital units and this led to many predicting the demise of the safety camera on our roads. With one or two local exceptions this has not happened and mobile and fixed speed cameras remain in use across the country.
IAM RoadSmart recommendations
- IAM RoadSmart supports the use of safety camera systems at collision hot spots, on roads with a bad crash record and at areas of proven risk, such as motorway road works
- It is vital for their credibility and road safety policy, that their use is concentrated on these areas, directly linked to speed related crashes and casualties
- Speed cameras should remain highly visible to provide a deterrent to drivers
- IAM RoadSmart has no objection to the inclusion of speed camera information on sat navs and other databases
- Cameras should be seen a temporary solution until long term engineering improvements can be implemented to remove the problem permanently
- Partnerships using cameras must be transparent in their funding arrangements
- The Home Office should make traffic policing a higher priority for Chief Constables and Local Police Commissioners and work to significantly increase the number of traffic police available to deal proactively with all aspects of reckless and careless behaviour on the roads.