Average Speed Cameras For All UK Roads

It’s ‘bash the motorists’ time again, as the government prepares to back SPECS cameras as a more profitable replacement for the good old Gatso camera.

SPECS Speed Camera

Working in pairs, the ‘yellow vultures’ use numberplate recognition technology to measure the time it takes you to travel between each camera, and then work out your average speed between the two points. If you’re over the limit then it’ll be time for a ticket, and this means drivers can’t slow down just before the camera to avoid the fine.

So far SPECS cameras are not used widely due to their high cost, but with Home Office backing the new technology could be rolled out more widely onto main roads, accident black-spots and residential areas.

Fortunately they’re usually painted yellow and they are quite easy to spot as they stick out over the traffic lanes, but it’s easy to forget them when you’re on a long stretch. The cameras can be placed up to six miles apart so you need to keep your eyes on your speedo to make sure your speed doesn’t creep over the limit. If you’ve got cruise control on your car it’s an ideal time to use it when travelling between these cameras.

Source: Pistonheads

Picture: Scarlet Pimpernel

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Author: Chris Auty

Voted the Breakthrough Blogger of 2013 by SEAT and the Guild of Motoring Writers , Chris has lived and breathed cars since he was old enough to say 'faster'. With a penchant for hot hatches and an allergy to public transport, he would much prefer to drive a bad car than never drive at all. Fortunately his family has learned to put up with this obsession and the internet has provided a channel for his ramblings.

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  1. ‘Bash the motorists time again’, is it?! How about ‘Deter the speeders and stop them killing and crippling and maiming and otherwise seriously injuring people and devastating thousands of families time again’?! You people really just don’t give a damn, do you. You just couldn’t care less.

    For your information – and I could cite a number of similar examples – in the fourteen years after it was built, there were 26 road deaths on the Stocksbridge Bypass (which is about seven miles long), but in the eight years since average speed cameras were installed on the bypass at the end of 2002 there has been ONE, and that was a drink/drive motorcyclist (the speed limit was also reduced from 60mph to 50mph at some point, but I don’t know if that was at the same time the cameras were installed or whether it was some time later).

    And for your information, very, very few motorists get clocked for speeding on the Stocksbridge Bypass (and if the speed limit is 50mph – which it is – then they would have to be travelling at an average speed of 57mph or more to get clocked, as the cameras – like ALL cameras – are set to trigger at 10%+2mph above the speed limit).

  2. Speed does NOT kill in itself Allan. Otherwise all former and current F1 drivers would be dead. Stupid, reckless driving kills. And the two are not directly linked, with speed only being an increasing factor (as is lack of experience, youth immaturity, poorly mainted vehicles, alcohol, drugs, tiredness etc). So whilst your ‘rant’ is interesting Allan you are sadly falling into the trap of being too simplistic like all your fellow ‘let’s drive everywhere @ 20mph’ clan.

    And whilst no-one is diminishing the damage and pain caused by road deaths remember that it is not possible to eradicate all deaths and injuries from motoring, as motoring like many things is inherently dangerous by it’s nature. But then so many things are, and if we humans did not take risks like getting in our cars every day we would all still be walking everywhere as even horseriding and cycling can cause fatalities. I was going to say at this point that if we humans did not take risks we would all stay in bed all day, but then I had a school teacher whose father was killed when a RAF Harrier jump jet crashed through his roof and killed him while he slept in bed, so that saying doesn’t even hold true either…

    Basically life is not risk free, and driving cars is certainly not. Nobody gets in their car in the morning wanting or expecting to kill or maim another human being. And whilst SOME control/monitoring is acceptable the idea of a constant big-brother camera network is not ever going to sit with the public as it’s proven than speed-camera installations have been abused by councils for revenue generation even when no safety benefit existed, and also that some speed cameras have actually INCREASED the number of accidents.

  3. I will respond to the points you made in your post in a moment Daran, but first I just want to relate something – several things in fact – that I witnessed a couple of evenings ago in the space of about four or five minutes. The area where I live is a 20mph zone with speed humps on all the roads except two, which have speed cushions (for the emergency services), and I had just left my house to cycle into the town centre about a third of a mile away. It was about 9.15pm. As I came down the road – one of the two with speed cushions – three lads (one of about fourteen and the other two about nine or ten) came walking out of the park gates on the other side of the road and just walked straight into the road without even looking, right in front of a car coming up the road. What with it being dark and cars parked on the side of the road, the driver of the car obviously didn’t see them until they were right in front of her, and although she braked hard and they jumped out of the way, it was a close call.

    BUT, the reason she didn’t hit them is because SHE was literally driving at about 20mph, and had she been driving at the speed that the vast majority of drivers travel down this particular stretch of the 20mph zone in the evenings – ie 35-40mph – they would undoubtedly have been seriously injured, and perhaps worse. Yes, of course they – the three kids – should have looked before crossing the road, but that’s kids (sometimes).

    A couple of minutes later, having literally just left the 20mph zone and got to the town centre, a car came hammering past me doing about 50mph and very, very nearly hit a guy crossing the road (this was about 60-70 yards ahead of me), and as I came up to him (on the other side of the road at the bus-stop) I looked over to catch his eye and say something, but he was looking at the car that had nearly just killed him, which had pulled up at the lights about 70-80 yards further on. The next thing I know there’s a car really, really hammering it coming down the road in the opposite direction (from the other driver), and this nutter was doing at least 50mph by the time he came past me – probably nearer 60mph. It happened so quickly – ie he was driving so fast – that I didn’t actually see where he came from, but I think the lights must have changed to green whilst I was looking over at the guy who had just nearly been run down – and it was very, very, very close….literally inches – that this other nutter had come across the junction totally belting it.

    Anyway, Daran, I see you use the totally preposterous anti-camera rubbish about F1 drivers etc that I’ve come across on more than a few occasions over the years, and which is something akin to the other absurd rubbish the anti-camera propagandists endlessly repeat about how if speed kills then how come motorways are the safest roads. I’m quite happy to have a debate about these issues – ie speeding and speed cameras etc – but please, I’m not some Sun-reading boy-racer who is incapable of thinking for themselves and who gleefully laps up such absurd platitudes. Anyway, recounting what I witnessed a couple of evenings ago took longer than I thought it would and I’ve got some things I have to do, but I WILL fully respond to your post as soon as may be. Maybe sooner!

  4. Allan, I’ve not bothered reading your reply as it will be tedious as the anti-speed anti-driving lobby always are, but scanning it I see you don’t agree with my point about speed not being directly a factor in all accidents. You should, as it is A FACT. Proved beyond doubt. Period. But if you have a scotoma to that fact then understanding it and accepting it is not something you will ever do. So we move on….

    Now, as a member of the finger-pointing classes who believe they alone are the upholders of good-society I will say this to you about your road safety ideology: If you want people to drive @ 60 mph then you want people to drive @ 50 mph then you want people to drive @ 40 mph then you want people to drive @ 30 mph then you want people to drive @ 20 mph.

    Why? Because you can kill someone @ 30 mph Allan if you are (and they) are unlucky. So to avoid all road fatalities (which is your mantra surely?) then you will literally have to get every car on the road to drive no faster than 20-25 mph. That is not realistic. And as the great Terry Wogan used to say about the Health & Safety mob like yourself who try there level best to p*ss off every motorist they can on a daily basis – the idea that we can all get places quicker by going slower does not work. Sadly.

    So we have to drive at a reasonable speed Allan – and accept the fact that there always has been and always will be sadly the occasional road accident. I’m thinking you won’t accept that though 😉

  5. Oh, and one more thing Allan. I drive fast cars fast and have done for the last 7/8 years. Moving from a brisk 125bhp supermini to my current 300+ hp monster. I have for your information caused an accidnet or crashed or hit anyone @ speed, despite pinging about my local roads at speeds that would make you burst a blood vessel in anger Allan. Nor have I ever gotten a speed ticket or any motoring fines. Why? Because I am a good mature driver that’s why. I don’t drive like an asshole. I drive fast when the conditions make it safe to do so.

    I did however nudge into the back of someone at a junction a few years ago Allan. Sadly for you I was only doing about 3 mph at the time which doesn’t fit into your speed kills ideology does it. Shame, I’d love to verify and substansiate your views Allan. But 7 years on from driving fast cars fast I still can’t give you any ammunition. And I’m sure you’ll find thousands of car enthusiasts like me who will also not be able to help you out with your simplistic view that speed is the main enemy.


  6. Oops, typing faster than I drive !

    “I have for your information NEVER caused an accident myself or crashed or hit anyone @ speed”

  7. So what Daran! Are or you implying that because YOU drive around at reckless speeds and haven’t had a collision that the same is true of every speedfreak. Give over Daran, I’ve rarely heard such disingenuous claptrap in my life, except from anti-camera propagandists.

    Anyway, getting back to your initial post, I couldn’t help but notice how you completely ignored the content of my first post, and just reiterated the old anti-camera propaganda chestnut about how speed in itself does not kill. So perhaps you have a theory as to why it is that since average speed cameras were installed on the Stocksbridge Bypass and the speed limit reduced to 50mph, there has only been one road death in eight years, compared to twenty-six in the fourteen years prior to the cameras being installed etc? I doubt it somehow!

    As for the F1 drivers nonsense, I think my account of what happened a couple of days ago – ie the reality of the REAL world on REAL roads – blows that particular anti-camera platitude out of the water. It was of course just chance that I happened to go out exactly when I did and, as such, witness those things. Had I left a minute earlier or a minute later I would have missed all three events. BUT, that of course is not by any means the first time I have witnessed such events, and as for speed-merchants racing around the streets/roads, I see that every day of the week of course. On the stretch of road (in the 20mph zone) with the speed cushions that I mentioned in my previous post, the average speed of motorists during the daytime is 30/35mph, with the occasional nutter doing 40-50mph, and in the evenings – as I said – the average speed is 35/40mph, with even MORE nutters driving at 40-50mph, and on the odd occasion even faster, and through the night – ie midnightish until 5/6am-ish – the norm is 40-50mph. And I’m talking about a quiet residential street with several bends and vehicles parked on both sides of the road, but which just happens to be part of a shortcut to and from a main road to the town centre.

    As for risk, if everyone drove carefully and cautiously and considerately at all times, then the risk of fatal and serious injury collisions and crashes happening – and particularly the more serious of the serious injury collisions and crashes – would be reduced by about 70 or 80% or more. The reason why the vast majority of personal injury collisions happen is because something unexpected happened, and the unexpected is always going to happen sooner or later, and the faster someone is driving when it DOES happen, then the more likely it is that a collision will occur, and the more likely it is that the injuries sustained will be fatal or serious. And the slower they are driving the LESS likely it is.

    And THAT’S why Speed Kills and Cripples and Maims thousands of people every year Daran, and Devastates thousands of families as a consequence. Yes, it IS pretty simple Daran, but I’m all ears if you’d like to share your more complex views on the subject. AND your theory about the Stocksbridge Bypass and the-more-than 90% reduction in road deaths since ASCs were installed. If you have one, that is.

  8. Blimey, I step away for a few days and a fight breaks out!

    Allan – while I’m glad that the speed cameras have helped to reduce casualties in your area, they don’t necessarily have the same effect everywhere. As for the 90% reduction in deaths, don’t attribute all of that to the cameras – car safety has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years, as has medical knowledge at accident scenes. It’s now possible to walk away from a serious crash that would have killed you a few years ago.

    My own local example is on a stretch of the A1 at Elkesley, Nottinghamshire, where accidents were common as local inhabitants tried to cross the dual carriageway. In 1997 a 50mph limit was set and enforced with Gatsos. This has done little for the locals who have to cross the carriageway, where the lower limit has helped to bunch up traffic and make it harder to join at busy times. I have no official stats to hand, but the impression is that accident rates are no better, although admittedly their severity has been reduced. However, if the intention was to save lives then the proposed flyover should have been built instead of installing cameras, but that would have required spending money instead of taking it from motorists.

    To make matters worse, the local councillor who campaigned for their installation was caught speeding at 88mph through the 50mph limit, snapped by the same cameras that he campaigned for. Hardly a ringing endorsement for the ‘speed kills’ argument that he was pushing.

    The roads might also be a safer place if pedestrians and cyclists took a little responsibility for their actions. The number of people who step into the road expecting traffic to come to a stop is absurd – by taking that step they should lose any right to blame the driver. Fair enough, small children won’t understand but then parents should be taking some responsibility for their safety. I speak as a parent who keeps an iron grip on my youngsters near roads, and when they are eventually old enough to be let loose on their own I’ll have drilled the Green Cross Code into their heads. Remember when road safety used to be taught to kids?

    Likewise I often see cyclists riding on a busy main road alongside an empty cycle lane. Why? Do they have a death wish or do they think that Ambulance Chasers 4 U will allow them to make a substantial claim for injuries? Perhaps they’re looking for a nomination in the Darwin Awards, and hindsight is a wonderful thing if you’ve just been flattened by a lorry.

    Yes, speed cameras and lower limits have their place – 20mph outside schools during the daytime and in busy residential streets are fine by me, and at true accident blackspots a camera may act as a deterrent. But hidden behind road signs on quiet stretches of open road? They’re nothing but profiteering at the expense of motorists.

    And if the argument for speed cameras is so sound, why are councils now shutting down camera sites – Swindon and Oxfordshire to name two? If safety is paramount surely these cameras still have a reason to be active and the funding would be found?

    Another question – who poses the bigger risk? An alert and experienced driver travelling at 40mph, or someone driving at 30mph while updating their Facebook status on their new smartphone? Speed may kill, but in this case I’d wager that poor driving standards are a much bigger threat.

  9. Chris; Just seen your post and quickly skimmed through it (I just came to turn the computer off and hit the sack), so this is just a quick response for now.

    You ask who poses the biggest risk and, in effect, answer that it is inattention, but you are missing the point, despite me already having made it at least twice. The unexpected is always going to happen sooner or later, and when it does, the faster……….
    I don’t REALLY have to repeat it do I? The anti-camera lobby are always very keen to quote official statistics that inattention is the main cause of collisions, and do so knowing that when it comes to fatal injury collisions speeding is the main cause, but that doesn’t suit their agenda of course.

    Anyway, here’s a stat for you: 94% of driving offences in which one or more people are killed or seriously injured are committed by males, and even allowing for the additional number of male drivers and the additional average annual mileage they do, they are still eight times more likely to kill or seriously injure people than female drivers. Is it plausible that male drivers just happen to be eight times more inattentive than female drivers, or could it be that male drivers – though by no means all – generally drive faster and more aggressively than female drivers. We all no the answer of course.

    As for the Stocksbridge Bypass, if road deaths had generally fallen by 90% there would only have been around five hundred last year, as opposed to the 2,222 that there were.

  10. Just a quick update:

    Is it plausible that male drivers just happen to be eight times more inattentive than female drivers or eight times more prone to poor driving, or could it be that male drivers – though by no means all – generally drive faster and more aggressively than female drivers.

  11. Chris: Cameras by law have to be visible and clearly signposted, and the only people who are caught by them are those who were speeding AND managed to miss the warning sign. Perhaps if they had been driving within the posted limit and been focused on the road ahead they may have seen the warning sign, and even if they had missed it somehow……well, no problem, they were driving within the speed limit anyway.

    I DO want to respond to your post fully at some point, but yet again Time is not on my side (and Question Time is on shortly), so I’ll just leave you with some stats from YOUR neck of the woods to ponder over (not that the Stocksbridge Bypass is anywhere near MY neck of the woods). The following is from the Speedcheck website:

    ‘All SPECS sites in Nottinghamshire have delivered significant KSI
    reductions, with an average reduction of 65%. During the first three
    years following the SPECS installation on the A610, an average speed
    reduction of 9 mph was recorded (baseline average 33 mph, 2003
    average 24 mph). In addition, there were 9 fatalities on the A610
    and the A6514 in the three years prior to installation. Since then,
    there has only been a single, non speed-related fatality.’

  12. It’s funny how Speedcheck (a company formed in 1999 to promote SPECS speed cameras) mention that the one death after cameras was non speed-related, and yet fail to mention how many of the previous deaths were attributed to speed. I suppose if they disclosed those figures that would dilute their message.

    Also, according to Speedcheck the post-installation figures have been “adjusted to 3 year equivalent”. It would be interesting to know how they adjusted them.

  13. Are male drivers more aggressive? Generally, yes (although young girls are catching up). Does that mean that every crash men have is caused by excessive speed? No.

    Take the Polish-registered Corsa I observed this morning, who quite casually overtook a lorry on a blind S-bend. Surprisingly, given the location of his overtaking maneuvre, he wasn’t speeding but had a car been travelling in the other direction there would almost certainly have been an accident. Not because of speed, but because of a near-suicidal attitude to driving.

    A recent accident that occurred locally resulted in five deaths. A teenage driver, with his two friends, decided to overtake a car on a blind crest. He didn’t see the first car travelling in the opposite direction until too late, swerved to avoid it, clipped the car he was overtaking and hit a second car head on, killing the elderly couple inside as well as the three young friends. Five deaths in one crash where the accident report decided that the primary factor was exceptionally poor driving.

    My neighbour was killed not far from that spot when a teenage girl cut a blind corner and hit his car head on. A shoddy piece of driving that wiped out a good man. She also died when another car ploughed into the wreckage of her car. That driver chose to ignore the pleas of a motorist who had stopped at the scene and was trying to prevent another accident. The approaching driver had seen the motorist and swerved to avoid him, but made the decision to carry on around the bend without considering why someone was trying to stop him. Another death caused by stupidity.

    You can’t argue with the physics of speed – soft, squishy human organs will always fare badly against hard, unrelenting metal. But the ‘speed kills’ argument is simplistic at best and fails to address the biggest factor – poor driving standards. Of course, speed limits can be enforced with minimal effort by installing cameras that coincidentally bring in a healthy revenue, but they will never eradicate fatal accidents or address the issue of declining driving standards.

  14. A quote from an unnamed Traffic cop in the Nottinghamshire force writing in the March 2004 issue of POLICE:

    “Nottinghamshire used to have a strong Traffic department, dedicated to saving lives and catching criminals on the roads. We also had a reputation for leading the drive against drinking and driving. In 2002 we have ceased to police the roads. Traffic, and even the motorcycle section, were disbanded. We were supposed to turn to the new concept of roads policing, but this is the very last thing we do. We are an Armed Response Vehicle unit. Traffic officers who were not AFOs were transferred to divisions. All we have left is Crash Investigation (for non-fatals) and a small Motorway Unit which does not work nights on the M1. The A1 is covered by drivers without traffic training or experience. If lucky, they have had a one day course in coning accidents and basic safety. How long will it be before an officer is killed or maimed? There is no proactive policing on our roads. Lorries no longer get stopped. If we arrest a drunken or disqualified driver, it doesn’t count towards an SPP, but shoplifiting and minor domestic assaults do. The speed cameras only affect the honest drivers who register their vehicles. I cannot believe that our Chief, who was the Head of ACPO roads policing (!) has got away with this.”

  15. Don’t feed the troll Chris ffs! We’ll never get rid of him otherwise!

    Seriously, as a member of the finger-pointing ‘moral crusader’ type Allan will always be right and everyone else’s opinion will be wrong Chris, so don’t waste your time with him. I was thinking he’s probably one of those people who drives at 40 mph on 60 limit roads (you know the type..). Causing cars to be backed up behind him and forcing drivers to undertake often dangerous overtaking manouveres to get past him. Allan’s probably caused more accidents by driving slow than anyone who drives fast.

    Such is the risk that slow drivers pose to the majority …

    Isn’t that right Allan 😉

  16. Daran: I see from your latest post – AND the one prior to that – that you’re from the ‘Pistonheads’ branch of the anti-camera fraternity. If you can’t handle a debate on the issue, and have to resort to such infantile tactics, then THAT does NOTHING but expose you for being devoid of legitimate arguments to support your case. But the fact that you DO use such tactics seems to imply that YOU think/believe that most of the people who visit this site and follow such debates are fellow ‘Pistonheads’. If only you knew how pathetic you sound…. “Don’t feed the trolls Chris…..he’s probably one of those people…….” Grow up Daran.

  17. Will respond to your points as soon as may be Chris.

  18. Chris: You say: “But the ‘speed kills’ argument is simplistic at best and fails to address the biggest factor – poor driving standards.” So male drivers are eight times more prone to “poor driving” than female drivers are they?

    You then finish by saying: “Of course, speed limits can be enforced with minimal effort by installing cameras that coincidentally bring in a healthy revenue, but they will never eradicate fatal accidents or address the issue of declining driving standards.”

    Well as for cameras bringing in “healthy revenue”, as you put it, do drivers have a choice about whether they speed or not. You make it sound as if they don’t! As for eradicating fatal accidents (not a word I choose to use…..’accidents’, that is), I have no doubt that cameras – both directly and indirectly – have played a major part in the significant fall in road deaths over the past five or six years. They are there as a deterrent, the deterrent being the fine and the penalty points incurred if CAUGHT speeding.

    You say that cameras “will never…address the issue of declining driving standards”. So is this supposed to be some sort of argument against using them, along the same lines of ‘cameras can’t catch drink/drivers and tailgaters and unlicensed and/or uninsured drivers’ etc?

    The reason the anti-camera lobby have been trotting that one out for several years or more now – absurd and totally illogical though it is – is because they have also led many people to believe that there are next-to-no traffic police anymore and they’ve all been replaced by speed cameras. They spread this lie in full knowledge of the fact that traffic police catch hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people every year who have committed driving offences.

    I will address other points you made in my next post, but just want to finish this one by asking you where on the Speedcheck website it says: ‘adjusted to 3 year equivalent’. I had a look but couldn’t see that written anywhere, but whatever the case, it has no relevance to the A610 and the A6514 before and after figures. And if there were NINE road deaths in the three years prior to installation of average speed cameras and only ONE in the three years afterwards, I think most people can figure out that the vast majority of the fatal crashes in the three years prior to installation were speed-related, and ditto the Stocksbridge Bypass.

  19. We in the states are suffering from a lack of municipal supervision over the private security companies who maintain, monitor, and issue traffic citations.

    Some of these cities. like Maryland, were caught speeding up the yellow light to “Improve traffic flow”, but what resulted was more red light traffic tickets.

    We are on a mission to get them banned, and in the case of the Arizona speed cameras, we are winning.

    Good luck across the pond!

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