Average speed cameras ‘more effective’, survey finds

07.49 | 29 June 2018 | | | 11 comments

Image: RAC

Nearly 80% of motorists believe average speed cameras play ‘a greater role in road safety’ than traditional ‘one location’ cameras, according to a new survey.

The RAC survey of 2,172 motorists, published today (29 June), found that 79% believe average speed cameras are better at slowing down vehicles – compared to 9% who felt single location cameras were more effective.

While 70% of respondents felt traditional speed cameras were effective at getting drivers to slow down at their specific location, 80% said they made little difference beyond where they are sited.

86% of respondents felt average speed cameras were either very or reasonably effective – with only 12% describing them as not very effective.

When asked if they felt one type of camera was fairer on motorists, 46% said that it was not a question of whether one is fairer than the other, but that they are both there to improve road safety.

Among those who thought average speed cameras were fairer, 81% claimed they promote a ‘smoother driving style’ and ‘more consistent driving speeds’, rather than drivers ‘hitting the brakes to conform to the limit briefly’ when driving past a single location camera.

However, the survey suggests that motorists’ opinions about the purpose of speed cameras as a whole are still divided.

While 37% of respondents believe they are intended to improve road safety, 27% claim they are primarily used to raise cash from drivers – 36% believe they fulfill both purposes.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “We know that some drivers can be very cynical about speed cameras, with a significant minority having told us they believe they are more about raising revenue than they are about road safety.

“Interestingly, these latest findings show there is now a strong acceptance that they are there to help save lives and prevent casualties on the road, although more than a third claim they are about both road safety and raising revenue.

“Our research suggests the growing use of average speed cameras in motorway roadworks and increasingly on sections of A-road is reinforcing the road safety message as they are extremely effective at slowing down drivers.

“For instance, on the A9 in Scotland the number of deaths has halved since average speed cameras were introduced between Dunblane and Inverness in October 2014.

“This type of use of average speed cameras, together with the constant addition of more miles of smart motorways with strictly enforced variable speed limits, may be contributing to a shift in perception in favour of regulated speed enforcement over longer stretches of road.”


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    Are you suggesting that we take a city of say 200,000 people and have a regime of zero tolerance of speeding with random and covert cameras as well as mobile cameras operating across the city and then see whether this a) reduces speeds and b) reduces casualties?

    Rod King, Lymm, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (4)

    I believe that one damaging matter was mentioned in the first response to this item. It was shown or suggested that ASC did reduce some speeding but created a larger and more dangerous concern in Tailgating with all the ensuing increased dangers not only to frontal traffic but to all traffic in general and other road users also.

    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

    Surely Rod, with recent tradgedies in mind, you agree that safety products should be properly tested? Why should the products you want the authorities to sell to us be exempt from the appropriate trials, when I’m sure that you would demand proper tests for other safety products?

    I’m not opposed to trying any intervention, whether it’s your lowering of speed limits, speed cameras or your “ubiquitous and covert cameras”. All I’m suggesting is let’s try these things within scientific trials and find out whether they improve or damage road safety. Surely we should all actively support an evidence-led approach, and that starts with scientific trials.

    dave finney, Slough
    Agree (8) | Disagree (2)

    The other fairly obvious point is that exceeding the speed limit is an offence anyway, so the authorities don’t have to justify or prove anything by enforcing it.

    Many speeding (and other traffic) offences are detected by covert, non-publicised methods, so any reports, figures, conclusions, evaluations are meaningless if these methods are not also included in ‘studies’ anyway.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (7)

    The idea that cameras should be sparse, high-viz and only where there have been previous casualties is the one that endorses speeding through not caring about non-compliance in other parts of the road network. All of Dave Finney’s complaints would be rendered obsolete if we had ubiquitous and covert cameras. With today’s modern technology that can put all the necessary functionality into something not much more expensive than a mobile phone then there really is no excuse for not having wide-area enforcement across the whole network.

    The elephant in the room is that we do far too little enforcement of speed limits rather than too much.

    Rod King, Lymm, Cheshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (11)

    Yes of course Nick. The BIG issue is that of site-selection (RTM). No official report has managed to remove all RTM from results and many in authority thought it was impossible to do. I applied myself to this problem and developed the FTP method. I then applied my method to site data in Thames Valley.


    The first of those was a world first. It was the first time anyone had completely removed RTM from results at any road safety intervention site. Then Professor Mike Maher used the FTP method to evaluate fixed and mobile speed camera sites across the whole of Wales. He then also evaluated the fixed speed cameras sites throughout London.


    The above four are the only reports that have completely removed selection effects (RTM) from their results that I know of. There are other reports that have used the FTP method, but have not applied the method accurately. We really do have to decide whether we want an evidence-led approach and, if we do, it starts with scientific trials.

    dave finney, Slough
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

    Please can you provide a link to the “accurate evaluations” which “suggest that fixed and mobile speed cameras increase the numbers of deaths and serious injuries.”
    Thank you

    Nick Hughes, Preston
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

    I think Dave’s just proved my point.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (2) | Disagree (8)

    I believe the authorities made major mistakes when speed cameras were first used:

    1) They decided not to investigate how many crashes involved drivers exceeding speed limits”
    2) They decided not to run RCT scientific trials
    3) They could not or would not produce accurate evaluations of the effects of cameras on crash rates

    Over the last 20 years we have found out that:

    1) The vast majority (>92%) of serious crashes occur when motorists are not speeding
    2) The authorities have consistently refused to run RCT scientific trials
    3) Accurate evaluations now suggest that fixed and mobile speed cameras increase the numbers of deaths and serious injuries.

    It it said that when we do not learn from the mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat them, and that seems to be what’s happening with average speed cameras. A failure to run RCT scientific trials and a refusal to produce accurate evaluations of the effects.

    The authorities demand high standards of evidence from private companies selling safety products. Shouldn’t the authorities themselves be subject to the same high standards? All they have to do is run simple, cheap scientific trials and then we can start an evidence-led approach.

    dave finney, Slough
    Agree (16) | Disagree (13)

    Asking the general public for opinions on subjects which they are could not really be expected to fully ‘know’ the answer to is pointless, especially where the results thereof are presented as a conclusive fact, as in the headline above. It reminds me of a recent referendum…

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (14) | Disagree (1)

    Average speed cameras – do they work? It may be creating other dangerous problems. On some local arterial roads around me they are two lane both directions and have a speed limit of 50 mph. Often I have seen that speed being abused by as much as 10 plus mph. Previous to the installation of these cameras some drivers just continue driving at speeds in excess of that limit, slowing where there are GATSO cameras, [not working most of the time if ever nowadays] and speeding up again after passing.

    So, before, as I keep to that speed I was constantly being overtaken by other drivers who obviously wished to drive faster than me. That caused me no concern as they were away in front and that’s that. They created no dangerous problem to me.

    However all has now changed and instead of overtaking and perhaps being caught speeding they now drive right up to the rear of my vehicle and stay there. Some have been so close that if they were any closer they could be a passenger in the rear of my car. This is now happening with frightful regularity.

    Agree (11) | Disagree (3)

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