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Law of averages - News

IT doesn’t seem like long ago when speed cameras first started appearing on the UK’s roads.

Now the face of speed enforcement is changing, and like many things, the speed camera is having to evolve to ensure that it remains relevant and effective.

On motorways average speed cameras have become common.

If you travel on the M4 regularly, you will know that at some point there is a high probability of coming across a 50mph stretch of roadworks enforced by average speed cameras.

Transport for London is about to take this a step further and introduce the UK’s first average speed camera system on a major urban road. Traditional fixed site speed cameras are being replaced on a 7.5-mile section of the A13 in East London with new-generation average speed cameras.

This shouldn’t come as a major shock - after all there is precedent for average speed checks and many drivers will share the belief that static speed cameras are no longer as effective as they need to be.

There is no doubt that some drivers slow down on the approach to a speed camera only to speed up once they are past.

In some instances you get the feeling that they drive past the static camera every day so know exactly when to reduce their speed, while others slam on the brakes as and when they spot a box.

Swindon took the high profile decision to remove speed cameras last year and several others have followed suit.

They believed that the money can be spent more effectively in other areas of traffic enforcement. Not least, moving to randomly located mobile devices which are less predictable and less visible to speeding drivers.

In many ways I have to agree with them in that a static camera will become familiar to drivers over a period of time and so average speed monitoring provides a fairer and more effective method of influencing speed.

While I strongly believe that it is crucial to maintain a well thought out policy to camera placement.

Motorists don’t want to feel like a camera is there to catch them out and provide a further tax on the driver.

However, when placed on stretches of road with high accident rates, where there have been fatalities and where speeding is known to be an issue; I don’t think many drivers would complain.


Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.

Author: Mike Waters
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