‘Stealth’ cameras set to catch speeding drivers on UK motorways

If you exceed the speed limit on the motorway, then new speed cameras could be set to catch you red handed. New cameras are to be installed along hundreds of miles of motorway for the first time with the aim of targeting drivers who regularly exceed the speed limit.

Speeding drivers will be targeted by so-called ‘stealth cameras’ on some of Britain’s busiest roads including the M6, M1 and M25. While road safety charities have welcomed the announcement, motoring organisations claim they will have ‘no impact’ on driving. Keep reading to find out more…

Critics claim cameras are a revenue generating scheme

In the past, motorway speed cameras have mainly been situated on stretches of road undergoing roadworks, in order to enforce variable speed limits. Now, however, the Highways Agency is looking at the widespread introduction of cameras to target drivers exceeding the maximum speed of 70mph.

The cameras will be grey rather than bright yellow, and will be deployed on sections of ‘smart’ motorway, where the flow of traffic is carefully controlled using a variety of techniques.

In the past, the police have been reluctant to employ speed cameras on motorways because of the cost implications. Now, though, digital technology has made it cheaper and easier to install, monitor and collect information from cameras.

According to the Highways Agency, smart motorways will prevent congestion and allow the better flow of traffic by carefully controlling speed limits and opening hard shoulders to traffic where necessary.

However, the Daily Telegraph reports that critics claim the introduction of cameras aimed at enforcing the 70mph limit is not about road safety but about generating income through fines.

Roger Lawson, a spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD), said: “We are opposed to speed cameras in general. The evidence of their success in promoting safety is not good, and in reality what is happening now is that the police are using speed cameras to fund their other activities through speed awareness courses.”

He added: “If these cameras are grey rather than yellow they are going to be harder to spot and so will have no impact in slowing traffic down. If there is a good reason for the traffic to be slowed down then the cameras need to be as visible as possible.”

However, Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Speed cameras are an extremely well evidenced, cost-effective way to improve safety and reduce deaths and injuries on roads where they are placed, preventing families going through the trauma of a sudden bereavement or life-changing injury.

“Put simply: speed cameras reduce speeding, which helps to prevent deadly crashes. Breaking the speed limit is risky and illegal, so only drivers who break the law will face fines.”

19 in 20 drivers admit to speeding on the motorway

A recent survey in Autocar magazine found that almost 95 per cent of motorists admitted driving in excess of 70mph while on the motorway.

Now, however, motorists may be forced to slow down. New cameras are planned to be installed along more than 100 miles of motorway within two years, and the Highways Agency expects a further roll-out to eventually cover at least 400 miles of road.

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “These are not stealth cameras: they are more visible than they were before. These motorways are not about speed limits. They are about smoothing the traffic flows and increasing capacity.”

The spokesman said the new cameras would be signposted and added: “The onus is on the driver to abide by the speed limit.”

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