UK motorist support for speed cameras waning

IAM survey shows reduced support amongst motorists for the use and extent of speed cameras in identifying offending motorists.

A national survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has shown that although most drivers support speed cameras there are big variations across the country – and Londoners and people in the north-east appear to show higher levels of resistance than most.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has conducted a survey amongst 1000 drivers throughout Britain asking how acceptable they believed the use of speed cameras is by local authorities to identify motoring offences.

Overall, the national average is that just under 80% found the practice acceptable with some regional variation. Having previously been polled in 2011, London drivers have seen a reduction in acceptability from 85% four years ago to just 69% in the latest survey, a similar decrease as seen in the North East of England. There were also reductions in levels of acceptance in the North West of England, Yorkshire, Humberside and Scotland.

Digging deeper into the survey, there were large variations in acceptability when examining the reasons for cameras being used.

When asked if they agreed that speed cameras are only sited at accident black-spots, just 37% agreed in the North East and 28% in London. There was also a large number of people who agreed that the use of cameras is motivated by a desire to raise money from fines. Generally, around two-thirds of people now agree with this as opposed to around half four years ago.

Reducing death tolls

With deaths on UK roads having fallen from since speed cameras became more widely used, the survey respondents were also asked to what extent they believe speed cameras have helped.

While there is a very high agreement across the country for this statement, the North West is the only region to see a consistent year-on-year decrease in those who believe speed cameras have contributed to the decline in road fatalities.

And there was a sharp fall in those in the North East in the past year who agree with the statement that speed cameras have helped in this respect, from 91% to 57%.

Selective camera placement vital for credibility

In its manifesto, the IAM supports the use of safety camera systems at collision hot spots, on roads with a bad crash record and at areas of proven risk, such as motorway road works.

However, the IAM states that it is vital for their credibility and road safety policy that their use is concentrated on these areas, directly linked to speed related crashes and casualties.  It also suggests that cameras should be seen as a temporary solution until long term engineering improvements can be implemented to solve the problem permanently.

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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