Speed camera fines rise sevenfold

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Speed camera fines rise sevenfold

Post by Admin on Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:06 pm

The number of speeding prosecutions and fines has increased sevenfold in ten years, figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show.

Conservative MP Mark Field's request found speed camera offences rose from 262,000 in 1996 to 1,865,000 in 2006.

The Cities of London and Westminster MP told BBC 2's Daily Politics he wanted the "pendulum turned back to the long suffering motorist".

Road safety charity Brake says cameras help catch drivers who endanger lives.

'Russian roulette'

The number of speed cameras in England and Wales rose from under 2,000 in 2000 to more than 5,500 by 2006.

In a film for Wednesday's Daily Politics, Mr Field said cameras were "more about money raising than safety on roads".

The use of speed cameras has transformed the disqualification system into one of Russian roulette

Mark Field

He says he objects to the "excessive use" of the cameras and the "overzealous penalising of drivers".

"The use of speed cameras transformed the disqualification system into one of Russian roulette."

The government had raised huge sums through fines, he added, and yet, at the same time, the number of traffic officers on duty had fallen by 20%.

The "explosion" in cameras had done little to address serious problems such as the number of people still driving unlicensed vehicles or not paying any road tax.

Mr Field wants more local authorities to follow Swindon's example - the Wiltshire borough which has voted to stop funding them.

Swindon intends to use the 320,000 it spends on cameras every year on road safety projects instead.

'Important tool'

But Brake, the national road safety charity, described Swindon's decision as "a very dangerous experiment with people's lives".

Its spokeswoman, Jane Whitham, said: "Speed cameras are an important tool in catching drivers who insist on breaking the law and putting lives in danger."

The AA president, Edmund King told the programme a decline in traffic police was a more serious concern.

"A speed camera does not pick up the illegal foreign truck driver or boy racer with stolen plates but a traffic cop can," he said.

"We need to reverse this trend and increase traffic cops not only to make our roads safer but to make society safer."

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon indicated recently that traditional fixed-point speed cameras could be replaced by others which measure drivers' average speed.

The cameras currently in use were widely regarded by the public as "arbitrary" and "unfair", he told a newspaper.

Average speed cameras could be fairer as they encourage safer driving and reduce fuel consumption, he added.

However, the Department of Transport has stressed any change could only follow extensive research conducted by the police, councils and other institutions responsible for road safety.
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