Hoon backs speed camera overhaul

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Hoon backs speed camera overhaul

Post by Admin on Mon Feb 02, 2009 11:08 pm

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon has said traditional fixed-point speed cameras may be replaced by "fairer" versions which measure drivers' average speed.

He told the Sunday Times he understood why cameras which measure speed at just one point were not popular.

He suggested average-speed cameras were better as they encouraged safer driving and also reduced fuel consumption.

Mr Hoon is also considering cutting the drink-drive limit and tougher fixed penalties for speeding motorists.

He told the newspaper that the traditional fixed-point cameras were viewed by the public as "arbitrary" and "unfair".

"Spot speed cameras are seen by some people as unfair because when you are driving along you perhaps don't notice your speed.

"What is interesting about average-speed cameras is that [limits] are largely observed by motorists," he said.

A Department for Transport spokeswoman clarified that Mr Hoon was talking anecdotally and that any evidence collected around the matter would be provided by local road safety partnerships - comprising councils, police and other institutions.

They would also have any say over where new cameras were located.

'Greater reliability'

But average speed-cameras are often found near road-works.

The MP for Ashfield, Nottinghamshire said: "There is an area between my home and my constituency where they are widening the M1 and there are average-speed cameras.

"It reduces fuel consumption. By encouraging that smoother flow of traffic you are getting greater reliability."

His comments come just a few weeks after Swindon became the first town in the UK to scrap fixed-point speed cameras.

Under the current system, one camera - the entry camera - films the vehicle's number plate as it enters a controlled zone and starts a timer.

When it leaves the zone, the exit camera films both the car and its number plate.
Mr Hoon says average-speed cameras could be the way forward

If there is a match with the entry camera, the speed is calculated, and if the speed limit is exceeded the evidence is passed on to the police.

The average speed camera is dependent on Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology.

Mr Hoon, who described himself as an "enthusiastic motorist", also confessed to the newspaper that he had been caught speeding in the past.

He said: "I was doing 42mph on a country road that at the time was a 30mph limit."

Other mooted changes

A few months later the council had raised the maximum speed limit on that road to 40mph.

Referring to it, Mr Hoon said:"I still have a sense of resentment."

He said he is also planning on consulting about the current drink-driving legislation.

Presently those found with 80mg or more alcohol in 100ml of blood can face up to six months' jail or a 5,000 fine plus at least a one year ban.

The consultation would look at whether this should be cut to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - so falling in line with most of the rest of Europe. This is the equivalent for most people of less than a pint of beer.

Police may in the future issue penalties of up to six points for those found speeding by 15mph in urban areas or 25mph on motorways.

Edmund King, the president of motoring body the AA, told the BBC: "These cameras are very effective when they are near road-works or on narrow lanes or motorways but there are still problems which must be factored in."

He said driving at 80mph on a clear motorway a safe distance away from the car in front was fine but not everybody would do this.

He said: "Everyone sticks to just under the speed limit but there are those who always want to be ahead of the pack and this results in bunching and tailgating. That is just as dangerous as speeding."
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