The Press Association recently asked 45 UK police forces for data on how many fixed speed cameras they have, and how many of them are switched on. The results make for interesting reading – it seems that differing approaches to managing speed cameras mean that drivers in some areas have a much better chance of dodging speeding fines than those in other regions. Furthermore, only around half of the fixed speed cameras in the UK are active, which means that there are hundreds across the country that are not catching speeding motorists.

Regional results

From the 36 forces who responded, it was discovered that 13 regions have fewer than half of their fixed speed cameras switched on. Meanwhile, four areas admitted to having none of theirs on at all. The four regions with no active speed cameras are Durham, Cleveland, North Yorkshire and Northamptonshire. The cameras in Northamptonshire have actually all been switched off since April 2011. While the authorities there do have other devices in place to catch those who are driving over the speed limit, drivers whizzing past fixed cameras faster than the speed limit are unlikely to suffer financially as a result.

Of the 2,838 fixed speed cameras dotted around the country, only 1,486 are active, based on the figures from the 36 forces who responded to the information request. However, this does not include the mobile speed devices that many forces declared that they regularly use. All forces also stated that there are frequent reviews about which of their region’s fixed speed cameras should be switched on.

Fixed Speed Cameras

(Credit – David Dixon)

Worrying figures

Brake, a road safety charity, has said that these figures are concerning and that all fixed speed cameras should be switched on. Such a move would certainly help to tackle speed in the UK. Meanwhile, AA president Edmund King believes that the reason so many cameras are inactive is because of limited budgets.

This is supported by the fact that all money received from those paying speeding fines goes straight to the Treasury. It is not automatically put back into running fixed speed cameras. Thus it costs local police forces to run their speed cameras. Many people think that the resulting fines should go to those police forces operating the cameras, thus further incentivising them to deter motorists from speeding.

The great speed camera lottery

Do you feel it’s fair that the speed camera lottery means some drivers are more at risk of being caught than others? The answer probably depends on where you live!

For example, in Staffordshire there are 272 fixed speed cameras, with only 14 switched on. Derbyshire has 122 cameras, but only 10 are active. In addition, there is a whole range of regions that use less than a quarter of their fixed speed cameras to catch speeding drivers. These include Kent (25%), West Yorkshire (25%), South Yorkshire (24%), Greater Manchester (24%) and Cheshire (17%).

In comparison, London, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk and Northern Ireland have all of their fixed speed cameras switched on. As such, people speeding in these regions are far more likely to be caught than those driving elsewhere in the UK.

In the West Midlands, all of the cameras had been switched off. However, eight newly implemented cameras are now active, and there is one particular hotspot in Birmingham that saw 500 speeding tickets being issued within a single month!

Even though you now know your odds of being caught by a fixed speed camera, based on where you drive, it is strongly advised that you do not gamble on whether they are switched on or not. Not only could you end up with a hefty fine and points on your licence, speed limits exist for the safety of all road users. Sticking to them means those in your car and others around you are at less risk of injury.

Although some organisations feel that the roads would be safer with more police patrolling them, fixed speed cameras do tend to work as a deterrent, meaning that most motorists are driving safely. It is hoped that the revelations of these figures won’t change that situation.

Finally, remember that no matter which region you are driving in, all police forces use mobile speed cameras. These could be active at any point during your journey, and are much more difficult to spot than the fixed yellow boxes that may or may not be active at the time.

Will knowing about regional differences in speed camera use affect the way you drive? Should police forces be using these resources more in order to keep us within the speed limit? Let us know your views by leaving a comment below. 

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