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How would you feel about a proposal to increase the number of average speed cameras in use on UK roads? Do you think more cameras are necessary? Do you think installing more cameras would create an environment in which the average lorry or coach driver would drive more safely?

We ask these questions because British MPs are now looking at legislation that would result in expanding the coverage of average speed cameras. The impetus for the legislation is the falling number of speeding detections over the last decade – from 4.33 million in 2004 to roughly 1.62 million a couple of years ago. Experts say that detections are down as a result of budget cuts that have led to a decrease in traffic police on the roads.

A report from the Transport Committee suggests that increasing average speed camera coverage would increase detection and thereby reduce the total number of offences being committed. What the report does not address is whether reduced detection could be the result of fewer actual offences among drivers. Nonetheless, Transport Committee members believe installing more cameras is the way to go.

“We recommend that the Government monitor the placement of speed cameras by local authorities to ensure that this is the case,” the report says in reference to cameras being utilised for safety rather than revenue generation. “Where revenue is taken from speed camera enforcement, the funding arrangements must be transparent and the revenue put back into road safety grants rather than kept by local authorities or the Treasury.”

In light of the Transport Committee’s report, we are back to one of our original questions: would the installation of more cameras create a safer lorry or coach driver? Perhaps it would; perhaps it would not.

Average Speed Cameras in Scotland

Regular readers of our blog remember that we were talking about average speed cameras being installed along the A9 in Scotland between Inverness and Dunblane. Statistics do show that speeding offences have dropped since the cameras were put in place in 2015. But adding the cameras was not the only change. The government also increased the speed limit for HGVs to bring them more in line with normal traffic flow.

Evidence suggests that average speed cameras do offer some benefits in terms of encouraging drivers to slow down. Yet we don’t think they would be dramatically effective in making the average lorry or coach driver safer. Professional drivers are already among the safest on the roads thanks to the many regulations they are subject to.

Improving safety among professional drivers is more a matter of effective training that continues throughout the individual’s career. This understanding was partly behind the implementation of the Driver CPC standards that now mandate professionals undergo 35 hours of remedial training every five years. By focusing on training, professionals are made safer in their daily operations.

Perhaps the UK does need more average speed cameras. We will have to wait and see what MPs decide.

Sources:

  1. Fleet News UK – https://www.fleetnews.co.uk/news/company-car-tax-and-legislation/2016/03/22/mps-call-for-more-average-speed-cameras-across-uk
  2. BBC – http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-30972743

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