Nearly 60% of drivers are in favour of police forces using long-range mobile cameras to enforce motoring offences, a new survey suggests.
The cameras, which were trialled by Gloucestershire Police in 2018, can detect offences including speeding, tailgating and mobile phone usage from 1km away.
A survey, published by the RAC today (21 Feb), suggests 59% are supportive of the cameras – compared to 28% who were against the technology being used by police forces.
Of those in favour, 78% of respondents said it would be good to catch people illegally using a handheld phone – while 77% backed it for enforcing offences such as tailgating, middle lane hogging and not wearing seatbelts.
71% of respondents felt a long-range camera would make the country’s roads safer while 50% believed it would lead to more drivers being caught speeding.
However of the 28% against, 44% of respondents felt the camera’s use was ‘unfair’ as drivers would not be able to see it in advance. Just over a third (35%) were concerned about privacy issues and one in 10 (13%) thought they would probably end up getting caught speeding.
On the issue of whether speed cameras should be visible, drivers surveyed by the RAC were split – with 45% saying it is fair to have hidden police speed traps without warnings and 46% saying it is not.
However, respondents gave ‘very clear support’ for mobile speed cameras and police radars with only a quarter (25%) claiming they should be scrapped and 75% saying they should continue to be used.
The research also revealed no appetite for further increasing the penalties for speeding from the current minimum standard fine of £100 and three penalty points, with the majority (69%) believing this should be kept the same.
Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesperson, said: “While speed enforcement can split driver opinion, the findings of our survey show widespread support for the new long lens of the law.
“This is perhaps because drivers are used to speeding being enforced by a variety of means and are frustrated a similar focus is not employed to catch those they regularly see committing other motoring offences.
“Although this new long-range camera could be used to enforce illegal mobile phone use or tailgating, it’s primary use will no doubt be to catch speeding drivers, if indeed it becomes more widely used by forces.
“Some drivers will inevitably end up being very surprised when a notice of intended prosecution letter arrives on their doormat when they felt they had managed to slow down enough after spotting a police car in the distance.”