Speed Cameras: Life Saver or Cash Cow?

I saw a news story recently on the BBC website which talked about how several councils across the country are drastically cutting back spending on speed enforcement. The question of whether or not they actually help save lives or are just a way of making easy money for the government is a complex one.

Many people say that accidents don’t increase in areas where speed cameras are removed, and others beg to differ. As someone who has first hand experience of living on a road with a speed camera right outside the house, I feel I’m in a better position to judge than some others.

From what I’ve seen, they tend to not really improve things. The camera is directly outside our house and at night the flash can be very bright and irritating if you have the curtains open in the front room of the house. There have also been many times when I’ve been caught by the camera while walking on the pavement outside which is frustrating as well.

Probably the worst aspect of the camera is that cars will simply see it there and slow down in time to be traveling at 30mph until out of range. Not only that, but cars traveling on the other side of the road aren’t caught by the camera from what I understand, despite the fact that the flash will go off and a picture taken.

Therefore, if someone really wants to break the speed limit and drag race up the road, they can come from the other direction, rendering it useless. So therefore even though they will generate some income for the local authorities, they probably cost a considerable amount to maintain and monitor, and may not be worth the effort and money. Repairs are also likely to cost a considerable amount on top of regular maintenance because of the fact that these cameras are obvious targets for vandalism.

I think that it would be silly to just remove all speed cameras in the country, but I think local authorities should experiment by turning off cameras for small amounts of time and comparing the accident statistics to try and find the right solution for that area. Some black spot areas are going to need a strong presence while other areas may require none.

In conclusion, the question asked in the title of this post is very much up to the individual circumstances. life-saving possibilities, costs and road danger should all be taken into consideration. I think money could be saved by removing unnecessary cameras like the one in my road which I don’t think makes a huge difference.

Another interesting point is that fixed speed cameras are too visible and people can map them to warn motorists which really takes away the point of them. I think the only real way to make a difference is to put police out with portable speed-traps to keep drivers on their toes. If they don’t know where the cameras are going to be, they have to be under the speed limit wherever they are.

Yes, it’s true that no one will like feeling uneasy about the possibility of a speed camera around any corner and never being able to predict where they will be, but I think if people are responsible drivers like they should all be, then they have nothing to worry about.

The BBC report that inspired this post can be found here.