One Show puts spotlight on increase in smart motorway speeding fines

12.00 | 7 November 2016 | | 5 comments

Last Monday’s (7 Nov) edition of The One Show included data which suggests that ‘more than 1,000 motorists a week are being caught speeding on the UK’s smart motorways’. (BBC News)

The BBC’s One Show asked 12 police forces in England that monitor major stretches of smart motorway – including parts of the M1, M25, M4, M42 and M6 – for information relating to the number of speeding tickets and fines collected in the periods 2014-15 and 2010-11.

BBC News says the majority of forces responded, with half supplying directly comparable data, which shows 52,516 tickets issued on these stretches in 2014-15, compared to 2,023 in 2010-11.

Managed by Highways England, smart motorways use a range of technology to vary speed limits in response to driving conditions. They are divided into three different types: controlled motorway, all-lane running and hard shoulder running.

BBC News says there are more than 236 miles of smart motorways in England, with a further 200 miles currently either planned or under construction.

Earlier this year, Highways England said that smart motorways on the M25 are easing congestion and reducing journey times, with no adverse effect on safety.

However, in September the Transport Committee criticised the Government for ‘blatantly ignoring’ safety concerns about all-lane running schemes.

A spokesman for the DfT told BBC News: "Smart motorways smooth traffic flow and cut congestion for millions of motorists, with evidence from trials showing they are just as safe as regular motorways.

"Enforcement is a matter for the police and it is clear that speeding costs lives. However, we have been clear for a number of years that speed cameras should not be used to generate revenue."


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    You were right Rod.

    Any chance of RSGB UK taking this up with the BBC? I recall RSGB made a complaint on another item on The One Show which seemed to encourage poor behaviour on the road.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    With 33% more space, smart motorways with all-lane running ought to produce significant KSI reductions, but this has not happened. It is quite possible that the speed cameras might be leading to increased KSI that offsets the reduction due to the extra space such that no overall change occurs. We need RCT scientific trials of speed cameras to find out if this is the case.

    I know several people who have been done on Smart motorways and they say the speed limits were 50, 50, 50, 40, 50 (or similar) and, of course, they were done at the 40. I have noticed that the speed limits on Smart motorways have often been set wrong. Sometimes mile after mile of 60 or even 50 with light traffic and no accidents, obstructions or anything. When the operators make mistakes, the operators suffer no penalties yet the system still carries on prosecuting citizens.

    RCT scientific trials would help to restore public confidence in the honesty and competence of road safety policy.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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    I wonder whether the One Show will have one of their reporters being interviewed whilst they drive along the roads in question. Maybe they can combine a report on safety on “smart” motorways with one on “driver distraction”.

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us, Cheshire
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    Charles, there is of course an argument that is analogous to a reduction in a speed limit during heavy periods of traffic results in a reduction of accidents, or a reduction in the severity of accidents during heavy periods – you know, the traditional “will someone please think of the children?” statement.

    I’m personally in favour of smart motorways as a concept, despite the flaws that have arisen with the [in]ability to close the hard shoulder in times of emergency.

    Now, not often do I defend speed camera statistics but I would like to point out that the “sharp increases” are in effect “sharp increases from zero” – during the period of 2010 to 2015, a bunch of new smart motorways were created, and in addition, the ones that were previously that were not enforcing are now doing so.

    David Weston, Corby
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    This story raises the moral dilemma as to whether a speed limit which has been imposed purely to increase traffic flow should be enforced in the same way, and transgressors punished in the same way, as for speed limits which have been imposed to reduce human casualties. Perhaps congestion easing speed limits should have different shaped signs and have lower penalties for infringement. I’m sure that those who genuinely believe that speed limits save lives would not want that message diluted by the implication that breaching speed limits used to to increase traffic flow is no less serious than breaching speed limits used outside schools to save children’s lives.

    Charles, England
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