Road Safety News

Most UK drivers support speed cameras, but…

Wednesday 28th October 2015

While a sizeable majority of drivers in the UK support the use of speed cameras, many suspect they are used to raise revenue and are not solely sited at collision hotspots.

These are among the key finding from a national survey conducted by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

The survey polled 1,000 drivers of all age groups across Britain, split into 11 regional areas. 79% of respondents agreed that it is acceptable to use speed cameras to identify vehicles involved in speeding offences.

The survey also found big variations across the country – with Londoners and people in the north-east appearing to ‘show higher levels of resistance’ to the use of cameras.

Only 69% of Londoners polled approved the use of cameras, down from 85% in 2011, while in the north-east approval is down from 84% to 70%. The north-west, Yorkshire and Humber and Scotland have also all seen acceptability of cameras decrease over the four year period since the survey was last conducted.

The survey also revealed that less than half of drivers believe speed cameras are only sited at collision sites, although in eight of the eleven regions there was an increase in the number believing this to be true.

While in eight of the 11 regions more than 80% of respondents believe that speed cameras have ‘helped’ to reduce casualties, the survey also shows that the majority of respondents ‘disagree’ that ‘raising money from fines is not the motive for speed cameras’. The full results can be found here.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “It is clear that most drivers accept that speed cameras are effective in reducing the numbers of people who are killed and seriously injured, but for many there is still an unfortunate link to revenue raising and a perception they are not always in the right places.

“Public support is very important when it comes to effective speed camera operation. They will respect them if they can see their effectiveness and worthiness, and these regional variations highlight where extra work is needed to convince drivers of the benefits and to counter media perceptions and urban myths around cameras.”


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I am a regular speeder and make no apologies for it. I have methods of circumventing speed cameras so they are not a particular problem apart from when I get stuck behind some obedient little soul until I can find somewhere to overtake them.

The fact is that the speed limit is not set at the "Limit" anymore, it is set at the mean and should be treated accordingly. By its very nature, the "limit" is the fastest speed that it is safe to travel in the best conditions whereas the mean is speed at which it is safe to travel when taking into account all conditions (that is why it is way too slow for ordinary conditions and too fast for the most severe conditions). As a driver it is up to you to make the decision how fast to drive based on a large number of factors. When you do this as I do every day then you quickly realise that the so-called speed "Limit" is entirely pointless and irrelevant.

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

Does nobody find it strange that the only variable among the many thousands of variables that is easy to measure is the only one that is deemed to be important? Huge amounts of time, money and effort are expended on managing or attempting to manage this one measurement and yet when when you actually look at the data you find its importance has been vastly inflated.

I suppose the reason this one measurement is deemed to be so important is because it does provide a simplistic explanation to what is a very complex problem. People go fast, people die in accidents, one causes the other QED. It's a bit like the recent scare story that people eat sausages, people die of cancer, one causes the other QED. It's all bunkum of course, but that doesn't stop these simplistic explanations from gaining traction. Maybe one day we will get around to providing complex explanations to complex problems, but until that day comes we will have to suffer from many more press releases such as this one.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (10) | Disagree (5)

"Hugh – it states "More energy …into providing the false appearance of action and making excuses for inaction than into prosecuting offenders." And "Since cameras became common, police patrols have become a rarity. The result is plain to see much more risky driving, many more lights jumped, zebra crossings ignored, blatant speeding on suburban roads, far more generally rude and inconsiderate behaviour, and a return of the drink-driving that had been greatly reduced by the breathalyser". i.e. offences cameras cannot detect.

The most common theme throughout these submissions is that roads policing has almost ceased to exist. Peter Hitchens, makes the same points today: under "Police put us on the road to ruin", including that "I feel justified in assuring [CC Davenport] the danger to cyclists is real, and largely the fault of the police".

Why has this happened? Because cameras absorb little police time and awareness course profits, not police budgets, cover costs.

It is unclear why Hugh thinks the submission changes what IAM respondents know about camera effects.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

On the link supplied by Idris, there is a very good and enlightening submission by a Mr Martin Porter QC on the apparent lack of enthusiasm by the Police/CPS policy re-traffic law enforcement in certain circumstances. As has been said earlier by Rod King, there should not have to be collisions to justify action against speeders. It is anti-social, intimidating, disrespectful to residents, threatening to pedestrians and cyclists and other motorists even. The respondents to IAM's survey may well have been more aware than we're giving them credit for.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (10)

Steve is right and I have been saying the same for years - indeed Eric Bridgstock told me years ago that in his professional aerospace safety circles, it is a given that "the opinions of those who know nothing about the subject should be disregarded". Very few indeed of the respondents to the poll - a complete waste of time in my view - know anything at all about what effects cameras have on accidents.

Anyone who still believes that speed cameras prevent more accidents than they cause should read submission to Transcom's new roads policing inquiry by Eric Bridgstock, Dave Finney, Ian Belchamber and me at
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (10) | Disagree (6)

In the 4th NSCP report (p87), speed camera partnerships were told that "Public perception must be actively managed", and the IAM surveys may indicate how successful they have been. I think it's somewhat surprising that, after 20 years of consistent pro-speed camera publicity, nearly one in three drivers still doesn't believe the authority message.

That most drivers seem to believe that raising money is the main motive for speed cameras suggests a recognition that there is no independent oversight and this may also influence confidence in the effectiveness of speed cameras.

Perhaps we should meet these concerns head-on by appointing an independent body, and for them to run scientific trials of speed cameras. If speed cameras do bring road safety (or other) benefits, scientific trials would prove this to the satisfaction of both sides and public confidence would be strengthened considerably. I think the public would support such an evidence-led approach.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (8) | Disagree (8)

This survey is a psychologists dream as it contains just about every cognitive bias from both the surveyors and the surveyed you can imagine. The fact that surveys such as this are not immediately laughed out of court or indeed that they get published in the first place is deeply worrying.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (14) | Disagree (2)

Those who advocate more police on the roads can have them easily. If some of those same people were to drop their constant whinging about speed cameras and the ridiculous idea that to be effective we need a very small number of them that are highly visible.

We can have a far greater number of speed management devices at lower cost if they are discreet and randomly placed. They can also be moved around to ensure that speeds are managed effectively across our whole road network. This together with devices to track other moving vehicle offences and mobile phone use would free up police for other work. The constant quest to have only manned police intervention is nothing other than a smokescreen for condoning non-compliance.

The police and road safety industry need to wise up to the possibilities of automated vehicle management through unmanned devices and stop shying away from the opportunity to enable road policing to be far more efficient, and free up police for other duties.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (10) | Disagree (18)

As I understand it breaking the law is a crime. If you exceed the posted speed limit you're breaking the law. Many lawbreakers get caught, they don't like it and they have a whinge. They’ll often come out with comments like: the camera was hidden up a tree or the police officer that caught me should have been out nicking real criminals. I hear this sort of thing all the time – oh dear, what a shame, never mind!
Mark - Wiltshire

Agree (23) | Disagree (10)

"While in eight of the 11 regions more than 80% of respondents believe that speed cameras have ‘helped’ to reduce casualties". Yet also in all bar one region, 30+% of respondents think turning them off would have no negative impact.

Most surveys are good at only getting people to give what they think should be the "right" answer. There is an urban legend of one of the big car manufacturers running a survey at a motorshow. When asked by young, pretty girls, economy, safety etc were listed as most important, when asked by older male, performance, image and such came out top.

How many of the people surveyed actually had real data to base their responses on? There is data around that disproves completely the "speed kills" myth. Survey shows people are claiming to be thinking what they should be thinking. A survey that says "some people think speed cameras are good", does not actually make them good.

What people think, is in this instance, of no relevance to road safety, what is actually happening is far more important. How about other questions such as "Do you think an increase in traffic cops in (un)marked cars would be effective?"
Steve, Watford

Agree (14) | Disagree (17)

The well-worn phrase 'only there to raise revenue' is, I've found, often used by offenders in denial, to make them feel better about their offence. Occasionally they will demonstrate their concern for road safety and their guarded support for speed cameras by suggesting they are 'in the wrong place' i.e they shouldn't have been where they were speeding, but they should definitely be in other places to catch other speeders. So predictable you could script it.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (21) | Disagree (9)

Unfortunately IAM is in its questions implying that speed is only a problem where there are casualties. Whilst speed is implicated in almost all collisions, excessive speeds, often above the limit, blight our community streets and condemn all but the fit and the brave from using our streets as pedestrians and cyclists.

The talk of speed cameras "being in the right places" in itself sends the wrong message. If drivers are doing so above the speed limit, wherever they are, then they are breaking the law, breaking the terms of their license to drive a motor vehicle and doing so beyond that democratically decided by the community. How can it be "wrong" to be detecting and punishing such criminal action?
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (23) | Disagree (12)