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  Inside Out - West Midlands: Monday September 8, 2003

SPEED CAMERAS

Serco Gatso Meter speed Camera
Serco Gatso Meter speed Camera

Speed kills, but some drivers resent the presence of speed cameras so strongly that, in some cases, they have broken the law by vandalising them.

More and more drivers are being caught on camera, adding to the rogues gallery of speed trap photographs.

But now some drivers are taking revenge on speed cameras.

In 2003 dozens have been vandalised; sawn down, set alight and even shot at.

A speed camera near Stone in Staffordshire was destroyed when burning car tyres were thrown on top of it.

Speed camera vandal

Martin Callaghan loves the serene lifestyle of living on the canals.

Vandalised speed camera
A vandalised speed camera

The top speed he reaches on his narrow boat is 4 mph.

His go faster days are behind him since the night he borrowed his work's van without permission and fell victim to a camera on the A5 near Nuneaton.

In the early hours one morning Martin returned to the scene to destroy the evidence.

When the police caught Martin in the act, they were not amused. Martin suffered a large fine and more than 100 hours community service.

He could have gone to jail!

"It could be a member of your family who is killed"
West Midlands Police

Speeding can ruin lives

Supporters of speed cameras say reducing deaths on our roads is what their campaign's all about.

In the three years since cameras have been set up on the A38 in Birmingham the number of people killed or seriously injured here has fallen from eight to one.

"These people are playing with death"
Christopher Marlow's mother

To some, speed cameras will always be the scourge of our roads.

Inside Out met the man who from his bedroom has set up a website to campaign against them.

The site even includes a section celebrating their destruction.

SPEED CAMERA FACT FILE

There are 600 speed camera sites in the West Midlands

There are plans for a further 100 by April 2004

Nationally there are 2,994 speed camera sites

1,534 fixed

1,460 mobile

They are placed in sites which have been identified as accident black spots, 13,842 accidents leaving people killed or seriously injured

In areas where speed cameras are active, an average of 43% of drivers were speeding

After the cameras were in place there was a 10% reduction in speed and a 35% reduction in serious accidents

Christopher Marlow, 12, was killed crossing the A610 in Nottinghamshire.

The driver was doing 44 mph in a 30 mph limit.

Christopher's mother, Sabine Marlow, was surprised and disgusted by those publishing websites which try to reduce the effectiveness of speed cameras.

Now dodging speed cameras is big business.

One company is making a device which warns drivers when they're approaching a camera.

Avoiding the cameras is possible, but there are legal and illegal ways of doing it.

The question is, why avoid the cameras?

To make your driving safer? Or so you can speed with impunity?

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
Speed camera set on fire
Vandals attack speed camera
Most-feared speed camera damaged
Group admits speed camera attacks

On the rest of the web
UK black spot locations database
Satellite speed trap warning system

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Robin Copper
Speed cameras aren't working. Statistics provided by the government and the partnerships are presented in a way which shows an decrease in accidents, when actual fatalities are up in most areas. Lies, damn lies and statistics.

Plans are afoot to change the rules as to camera locations meaning they can be placed further away from blackspots.

Regarding blackspots, instead of spending £30,000 on a scamera, why not spend £30,000 on changing the layout of the road etc to stop the blackspot existing? Because it doesn't make money...

Tony Branson
Speeding may be antisocial and is on occasions dangerous it isn't however the same as burglary or assault as it is seldom if ever done with malicious intent. Those who suggest otherwise diminish their intentions to make the roads safer.

What is needed is as many devices as possible to make drivers aware of their speed, conspicuous speed cameras at accident black spots may well have a place but the current explosion of these devices leads many of the public to believe that their purpose is merely to raise revenue or exact revenge.

Pete Best
When does a law become a bad law? possibly when it has been broken by nearly everyone in the country? members of parliament, policemen, doctors, my mother in law have all been caught by a scamera so are they all criminals?

ap
If speed cameras are really meant as a deterent how come so many of them are 'hidden' behing bushes, bus stops, other road signs? All speed cameras should be clearly visible to oncoming traffic and and have the speed limit sign displayed on them.

Paolo Pistoni
Speed cameras have a place, in accident blackspots and around schools. Unfortunately in too many instances they are used purely as a revenue raising device and a means of further persecuting the motorist.

At the same time, because of the reliance on cameras the number of vehicles being driven without tax, insurance and MOT is increasing as these drivers go unchecked. It is about time we as a society demanded that our police forces returned to the business of catching criminals rather than targeting drivers.

Rob Hughes
The speed cameras are an easy way to catch "criminals" and get good figures. They should put the money back into police on the beat and in patrol cars, they can catch dangerous drivers, speeders, people with no insurance, mot or licences etc. Unfortunately this costs money and the government thinks the police are a business rather than a public service.

WildfireS3
I have no objection to speed cameras in accident black spots or where there is a danger to the public. But I do object to is the use of speed cameras and speed traps to generate income for the police force. This is the wrong use of such a facility, it turns a well meant and pretective measure into a facility for business which is never protective or well meant.

TJMurphy
Inappropriate speed kills and even then not always. Find me the camera that will catch dangerous driving, drunk driving, uninsured and stolen vehicles and I might be more supportive. But at the moment too many of them are (a) kneejerk reactions to an over-simplified view of traffic safety and (b) revenue earners. Put more traffic cops back on the roads!

Ian P
Speed cameras are not about road safety, they are about revenue. If the Police want to improve road safety they need to concentrate their efforts on dangerous and reckless driving along with inappropriate speed (above or below the posted speed limit) Road safety can not be measured in miles per hour.

DennisTheMenace
Replace cameras with traffic police , Driving standards are disgusting and its all due to these stupid metal boxes replacing traffic police meaning more idiots on the road know they are not going to get caught for there pathetic driving providing they stick to the limit.

Bob Smith
Speed cameras don't encourage people to drive slower. They are covert and so only catch people who are already speeding. Worse still, being covert the offending driver will continue his journey above the speed limit.

The purpose must be to get drivers to drive at or below the declared speed not to catch them driving above that limit. I find the most successful method is to use signs that flash up the speed of cars that are travelling above the limit. This embarrassment factor works well.

Much better to slow down cars that are speeding than to let them carry on along their way oblivious to the fact that they have been caught speeding.

Mick Shipton
Speed camera warning devices should be outlawed ASAP (as they are on much of the continent). The only reason for these is to allow drivers to speed with relative impunity. There is no doubt that lives will be lost because of their use. The best way to avoid a speeding fine is to keep to the speed limits - it's as simple as that!

Edward Parsons
I can't understand driver's complaints. If you're speeding and get caught then 'tough' - you deserve to face the consequences. As for speeding drivers saying that they didn't realise they were being filmed - that's like a burgular complaining there wasn't a sign up outside your house saying 'please don't steal anything'. Let's have more speed cameras generating more revenue for victims of crime whilst also making our roads safer.

Melvyn Cooper
What is so special about the laws relating to speeding? We have laws governing all aspects of our lives and, for the most part, people obey them. Yet ordinary people - who would not dream of committing a burglary, beating up a pensioner, or killing someone, feel that they have discretion to break the speed limit if they feel it is "unreasonable".

Speeding is widespread (see how many cars overtake you when you travel at 70mph on any motorway). The law is not seen to be enforced and, for as long as that remains the case, people will think they can get away with it.

More speed cameras and slicker processing - WITHOUT the warning markings - would make driving safer and less stressful.



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