Road Safety News

Average speed cameras covering hundreds of miles of British roads

Tuesday 31st May 2016

More than 250 miles of roads in Great Britain are now being regularly monitored by average speed cameras, according to new research carried out for the RAC Foundation.

Produced by Road Safety Analysis, the study has identified at least 50 stretches of road which are permanently managed by the cameras with a total length of 256 miles under observation.

The 50 stretches range in length from just a quarter of a mile over Tower Bridge in London to 99 miles on the A9 between Dunblane and Inverness in Scotland.

Many of these stretches of road are broken down into subsections (79 in total) and will be monitored by several sets of cameras.

Average speed cameras are also often used on a temporary basis to manage traffic through roadworks but these are not included in the study.

The first stretch of road to become permanently managed by average speed cameras was on the A6514 Ring Road in Nottingham back in 2000. By the end of 2015 it totalled 50, with 12 systems installed last year alone.

The next part of the work Road Safety Analysis is doing for the RAC Foundation will include an assessment of the cameras’ effectiveness in terms of reducing casualties by comparing pre-installation data with post installation data.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Average speed cameras are becoming a more common fixture on Britain’s roads.

“Unsurprisingly, the indications are that compliance with the speed limit through stretches of road managed by average speed cameras is high, but the acid test is whether accident and casualty rates have also fallen. That is what the next part of this research project should tell us.

“Rightly or wrongly many motorists perceive the current ‘spot’ speed cameras to be more about raising revenue for the Treasury than saving lives, but average speed cameras have greater potential to bring drivers on side. Clearly a high compliance rate means a very low penalty rate and hence both road safety and drivers wallets could benefit from greater use of these systems in appropriate places.”

Richard Owen, operations director at Road Safety Analysis, said: “One reason for the increase in usage has been the reduction in how much it costs to install permanent cameras – it’s now typically around £100,000 per mile, compared with around £1.5m per mile in the early 2000s.

“Some of the old fixed speed cameras have been around for 25 years and they are based on 35mm film. They are coming to the end of their life and are starting to be replaced, in some cases with average speed camera systems.”



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The use of alternative routes is quite easy to work out and I for one use them all the time to avoid the Managed motorways. If you use google maps for example to plan a journey south when the 50mph limit "was" (it still is now thanks to gantries at set times of the day) on the M1 it took you via the A1 not the M1 which is a longer journey for me in Halifax by approximately 10 miles plus the distance back west to the destination. The A1 is not "Managed" and has a consistent limit of 70mph and less congestion as a result. Of course we could solve this "problem" by covering the A1 in speed cameras but the fact remains that especially at non peak times journey times increase when managed motorways are used.
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

None of the average speed camera systems in use today has been installed within an RCT (randomised controlled trial). The RCT is the most accurate test known and it may be cheaper than current practices.

We do need to trial average speed cameras, but this must be done in such a way that we can be confident of their effects. The simple, cheap and reliable way to ensure confidence is to run RCT scientific trials. I believe that there would be many benefits from such an evidence-led approach.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (10) | Disagree (10)

Pat and Steve: How do you know that motorists are using alternative routes and why would they anyway? Why ask for 'a piece of work on the displacement effect' when you apparently already seem to know?
Hugh Jones

Agree (8) | Disagree (8)

Couldn't agree more Pat,
Although when its legally a faster journey on an A road opposed to a Motorway you really do need to look at the system which is causing this, or of course lower the limits on A roads and stick cameras on those roads which I fear would be the "solution".
Steve Armstrong, Halifax UK.

Agree (7) | Disagree (6)

When will a piece of work be done on the "displacement effect" i.e. the alternative, often rural, routes that drivers use to avoid sections of roads that have average speed cameras. About time some pre- and post installation data assessments were done to measure the unintended consequences of such cameras on increasing traffic on some cross-country rural routes.
Pat, Wales

Agree (12) | Disagree (5)

On tonight's The One Show (Tuesday 31st) there was a filmed report, in which the presenter, whilst driving, talked to the camera, took his hands off the wheel and interviewed someone. The report was about average speed cameras, dangerous driving and road casualties....doh. Any chance RSGB could make a complaint, as they have done in the past on a One Show road safety goof?
Hugh Jones

Agree (15) | Disagree (2)