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Speed Cameras should be eliminated or used only in special circumstances.

Comment 8th July 2010

Speed Cameras should be eliminated or used only in special circumstances. Speed cameras are pernicious for several reasons. My comments apply to all cameras, which I believe, apart from exceptional circumstances should all be removed.

Why does this matter?

 

I should say I have nothing against imposing reasonable speed restrictions, but cameras, as opposed to Police Officers, are not the way of going about it. If you talk to Police Offices you’ll find that they don’t like speed cameras as it takes out of their hands Traffic Law enforcement and the use of discretion. Speed should be seen only as part of the overall picture of driving safely (not aggressively, not too closely, observantly, with good anticipation) etc not picked out merely because it happens among the other things to be easy to prove, leaving the other neglected..

 

(1) The smug writers who say they’ve never had a ticket. You’re not better drivers, you’ve just been lucky. (I rang the Traffic Police Department in my area (a large city) and was told that several of its officers have fines picked up from cameras just from driving into work! Do people think they need to take another driving test?! Is a law reasonable that catches Police Officers with Advance Driving Licences? Something wrong here surely?) It is in fact very hard to the stick literally to the speed limit, especially the 30mph one on major roads as it always brings forth aggressive tail-gating and wild gesticulating in one’s mirror even over quite short distances. This can be very intimidating, hard to ignore, and is dangerous. (You can’t always pull over as recommended.) The law does next to nothing to punish this behaviour as it would have to be proved that it is an instance of dangerous driving. Indeed ironically if you have one of these loons behind you, and you are slowing them down to the speed limit, you are saving them from getting a ticket when you pass a camera!

 

(2) The other problem, which I think is an infringement of civil liberties, is the way the prosecutions by NIP are served. As you pass one of these cameras, including the mobile ones, you often can’t be sure that you were doing under the limit. Modern cars can soon pick up speed, and going down hill makes it doubly difficult to maintain a constant speed without excessive braking (more irritation to those behind). There are two good principles of the rule of law. Laws should be enforceable, and breaking them should be difficult by accident and avoidable by the conscientious honest citizen. Speed cameras only require a momentary lapse of concentration in the wrong place (try having screaming child in the car), and you’re punished. This can’t be right. You then have to suffer the uncertainty of two weeks, many be three, waiting, whether you are guilty or not, unless you are absolutely sure that you were not over the speed limit at the moment you pass a camera. Perhaps at that moment you were thinking of something else, have a worry, and not looking at the speedometer. So you don’t really know. Speeding fines should be served straightaway or not at all. It is the practice with other crimes, and much more serious crimes too. If you’re not charged within a certain time, you are free to go.

 

(4) Three points on one’s licence is excessive. At the very least it should be gradated and applied to those who are more highly in excess of the speed limit. But to get it for doing 35 in the 30 limited areas, as one can, is overly harsh.

 

(5) It’s simply false to assert that watching you speed carefully enough to be sure that absolutely all time one is not exceeding it doesn’t distract attention from other aspects of the road and driving.

 

(6) The actual speed limits need revising, especially the 30mph one on major roads. The current speed limits were introduced when cars had utterly inadequate brakes compared to today.

 

(7) It is often hard to know what the speed limit is. An classic urban single track road near me that should be 30 is 40, whereas other roads that should be 40 are 30. And if you notice these days the speeds are constantly changing even over short distances, requiring too much attention, and speeding up and slowing down leading to yet more infuriated (and wrong) drivers behind you. It all need simplifying.

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