Monday 20 July 2009

Speed Camera Law Change

It’s interesting how government measures that seem extreme in the first place are often only the thin edge of the wedge. It’s particularly worrying when it concerns human rights, but it happens constantly and insidiously. Many pieces of freedom restricting legislation have been passed “to combat terrorism”, in fact they tend to have no effect on terrorism and end up being used to spy on school children or prejudice the law enforcement agencies against anyone who expresses a point of view.

The introduction of GATSO speed cameras seems to have been the thin edge of another wedge.

Speed cameras were introduced “to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in road collisions”. This sounds great, less people hurt or killed, who could complain?

In order to ensure that drivers slowed down, UK law stated that GATSOs should be painted a highly visible colour (reflective yellow). Drivers would see the camera in advance and gently slow down to the correct speed for the road. Even with this law in place, the cameras were often either carelessly or sneakily placed behind other signs or foliage, meaning that drivers would see them at the last minute and either get slapped with a hefty fine or slam on the breaks, hopefully not causing a crash in the process.

Do they want us to be going to fast through these “accident hot-spots” so that more revenue can be earned?

In April 2007, the law changed so that speed cameras no longer had to be brightly coloured, visible from 60 meters or sited only on accident black-spots. This will surely further reduce any effect they arguably had on road accidents in the first place.

Another more rational part of the law stops companies that set up cameras profiting from fines issued. This closes a loophole, making your local council the organisation that profits. At least then, the money raised will go back into the system and will hopefully end up being spent on improving roads.

The clear message from the government is “Speed Kills”. Of course what actually kills is irresponsible driving. I’m not advocating breaking the speed limit, but delegating the responsibility for policing road traffic law to cameras that only care about speed means that people will drive however they like as long as they don’t break the speed limit.

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