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Digital speed cameras blamed for increase in fines

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Are speed cameras the reason for the new high in speeding fines?

Speed camera sign

Campaigners say digital speed cameras, which can be switched on 24 hours a day, may be to blame for the rise in drivers facing heavy speeding fines.

Court fines highest since 2010

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that in 2013-14, the number of motorists issued with court fines of £100 or more for breaking the speed limit rose past 115,000.

This represented the highest level recorded since 2010.

One of the most significant factors behind this rise in the number of fines is the increasing use of digital speed cameras.

These are cheaper to run and administer as they don’t need to have film loaded and collected.

As a result, they're more likely to be in use around the clock whereas film cameras can only be switched on at certain times.

Speed cameras 'ineffective'

Roger Lawson at the Alliance of British Drivers said there was little evidence to show that speed cameras reduced serious road accidents.

"In terms of cost/benefit there are lots more effective ways to improve road safety than speed cameras," he said.

"Re-engineering roads is one potential solution: many speed cameras are situated where a road could be improved by re-aligning it."

More cost-effective solutions

Motorway

This re-engineering could involve something as simple as installing a central pedestrian reservation.

Lawson said: "This would encourage drivers to cut their speed, and it is much cheaper than using cameras."

Enforcing speeding fines, he added, incurred huge costs in issuing tickets, processing penalties and prosecuting cases through the courts.

But Paul Watters at the AA said that the increased use of digital cameras did not necessarily mean motorists were under surveillance around the clock.

'Safety not revenue'

"It does not always follow that the police use digital cameras 24/7 as their back offices could not process masses of offenders just over the speed limit," he explained.

"Authorities should still adopt enforcement based on collision and speed data information so efforts remain linked to achieving safety benefits not revenue."

Watters added that more than three-quarters of AA members said the use of speed cameras was acceptable.

'Dangerous drivers should be priority'

Speedometer

But the organisation maintained that less serious offenders should continue to be offered speed-awareness courses in lieu of financial penalties and points on their licences.

Watters said the AA backed having camera thresholds set above the "bare minimum".

So for example, a camera in a 30 mph zone would catch offenders driving at 36 mph rather than 32 mph.

"We certainly favour an approach that first tackles the most dangerous drivers travelling at higher speeds."

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