As local authorities across the UK ponder following the lead of Swindon and Oxfordshire councils by switching off their speed cameras in response to government Road Safety Grant cuts, common sense suggests that many motorists will view such developments as a green light to exceed statutory speed limits.
A newspaper in Kent, where the future of the Gatso is under consideration, has undertaken its own research to determine the extent to which motorists speed in locations where cameras are not present.
Reporters from the Sevenoaks Chronicle using a hand held radar gun found that during one lunchtime period two-thirds of drivers approaching a primary school in the village of Otford were exceeding the 30mph limit.
The reporters witnessed how in another location in Sevenoaks more than half the drivers monitored failed to be deterred from speeding by a digital speed warning sign, apparently knowing it was not gathering evidence against them.
A local resident, Gill Checkley, told the newspaper: “It's fine having flashing signs up but people ignore them because they know they're not a camera. It's a big problem along here. The signs make no difference.”
Excessive speed is known to be the most common contributory factor in fatal road traffic accidents in Britain and any increase in the average speed of vehicles on our roads is likely to be a matter of concern to the nation’s cyclists.
As reported previously by road.cc, Chief Constable Mick Giannasi of Gwent Police, who is in charge of the roads portfolio at the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), has serious reservations about the cameras being turned off. “Road safety cameras play a significant part in the successes that we've had in terms of casualty reduction,” he said. “My concern is that if we stop using cameras… then there is an inevitability that casualties will start to rise again.
“I’m simply urging some very careful consideration - if they [local authorities] are going to reduce cameras, then they need to find an alternative way of keeping people safe on the roads,” he continued.