Speed cameras: separating fact from fiction

Speed CameraThere are few subjects that divide the motoring public more sharply than speed cameras. For most they are a necessary evil designed to make sure motorists obey the rules of the road, but for some they are simply piggy banks designed to fill-up council coffers. For such a contentious subject, speed cameras are shrouded in mystery, so we decided to lift the lid and separate fact from fiction.

You won’t get caught if you stay within 10% of the speed limit FICTION

In theory you can be fined for driving at any speed over the limit, but in practice the authorities tend to allow a little leeway to give them a better chance of prosecution. It’s commonly understood that you’ll only get fined if you’re driving 10% faster than the national speed limit, but it’s much more sensible to stick to the letter of the law.

You can trick cameras by slowing down and then speeding-up FICTION

When speed cameras were first introduced 25 years ago motorists could avoid being flashed by simply slowing down for the camera. However, since the introduction of average speed cameras motorists have been forced to play by the rules.

Speed cameras aren’t switched on all the time FACT

It’s hard to get reliable figures, but thanks to a number of Freedom of Information Requests it’s estimated that a quarter of speed cameras have been turned off. In recent years there’s been a switch from static cameras to mobile cameras which catch three times as many offenders.

Speed cameras are just money-making machines FICTION 

There’s no doubt that speed cameras generate a great deal of revenue, but they also put the brakes on speeding motorists and save lives. Since the introduction of speed cameras the number of deaths on the country’s roads have halved and cameras undoubtedly play a large part. Not only do speed cameras save lives, they also save money. The Department for Transport has calculated that traffic collisions cost the wider economy over £16billion a year and measures that help cut accidents will help the public purse.

You can always get a place on a speed awareness course FICTION

It’s a popular misconception that first time offenders will automatically be given the opportunity to attend a Speed Awareness Course. Guidelines vary between police authorities; so it depends on where you are caught speeding. Speed awareness courses are generally only offered for minor speeding offences and you’re legally obliged to tell your insurer and can expect higher premiums.

You’ll only get a ticket if caught by a yellow camera FICTION

A speeding ticket is a speeding ticket, no matter what colour the camera. Recent legislation means that all speed cameras on motorways and main roads must be painted yellow, but if you are snapped by a grey camera on a local road you can still expect a fine.

Speeding tickets have a shelf life FACT

If you are snapped by a speed camera (rather than a police officer) the law states you must receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution within 14 days.

Research carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists shows the British public takes a pragmatic approach towards speed cameras. Four out of five motorists support speed cameras and agree that they save lives; so it looks like the naysayers are in a minority. Leading road safety charity Brake sums-up the situation well saying, “Only drivers who break the law by speeding are penalised, if you don’t break the speed limit, you won’t get caught by a camera”.


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