Motorway speed cameras to be rolled out to stop those driving faster than 70mph
Motoring groups condemn planned introduction of motorway speed cameras, claiming scheme is about raising revenue rather than road safety
Speed cameras designed to catch motorists driving in excess of 70mph are to be installed along hundreds of miles of motorway for the first time.
New so-called ‘stealth cameras’, which will be grey rather than bright yellow, are to be deployed on busy stretches of some of the most important motorways including the M1, M6 and M25.
Previously, motorway speed cameras have mainly been situated on stretches undergoing roadworks, in order to enforce variable speed limits.
But now for the first time the Highways Agency is looking at the widespread introduction of cameras to target drivers exceeding the maximum allowed speed of 70mph.
The cameras will be deployed on sections of so-called smart motorway, where the flow of traffic is carefully controlled using a variety of techniques.
One recent survey in Autocar magazine, found that almost 95 per cent of motorists admitted driving in excess of 70mph while on the motorway.
The authorities are also allowed a certain amount of discretion when prosecuting speeding motorists, with drivers travelling as fast as 86mph in a 70mph zone allowed to avoid points if they pay to attend a speed awareness course
With the cameras likely to be less visible than those currently in use, critics also point out that they will have no impact on actually slowing drivers down.
Roger Lawson, a spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD), said: “We are opposed to speed cameras in general. The evidence of their success in promoting safety is not good and in reality what is happening now is that the police are using speed cameras to fund their other activities through speed awareness courses.”
He added: “If these cameras are grey rather than yellow they are going to be harder to spot and so will have no impact in slowing traffic down. If there is a good reason for the traffic to be slowed down then the cameras need to be as visible as possible.”
The ABD has called for an increase in the upper speed limit on motorways to 80mph.
It is thought that the new cameras, dubbed Hadsec3 (Highways Agency digital enforcement camera system) will be and running along more than 100 miles of motorway within two years, with the further roll-out eventually covering at least 400 miles of road.
Speed cameras have been a politically sensitive topic with the Coalition scrapping the capital grant for local authorities to pay for cameras in the 2010-2011 budget.
The police have also been reluctant to employ speed cameras on motorways because of the cost implications.
But digital technology has made it cheaper and easier to install, monitor and collect information from cameras.
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “These are not stealth cameras they are more visible that they were before. These motorways are not about speed limits. They are about smoothing the traffic flows and increasing capacity.”
The spokesman said the new cameras would be signposted and added: “The onus is on the driver to abide by the speed limit.”