Fixed Cameras To Tackle Speeding Motorists

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The Law Of... sticking to the speed limit

With a set of new speed cameras recently installed throughout Birmingham, Rose Gibson, a Partner at Simpson Millar, examines speeding on our roads and how it plays a part in many road traffic accidents.

The Law Of... sticking to the speed limit

A total of 8 new digital cameras incorporating Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology have gone live in the West Midlands. The bright yellow equipment measures average speed between two fixed points, recording a vehicle's number plate and working out miles per hour from the time taken to travel between the 2 camera sites.

The cameras are intended to ensure that drivers abide by the speed limits on the road, in a bid to cap the number of accidents attributed to excess speeding. In 2014, driving over the legal limit was cited as a factor in 8,433 reported road accidents that resulted in a casualty.

A shocking 282 of those were killed.

UK National Speed Limits

National speed limits in the UK vary depending upon the type of road and the vehicle you drive. They are as follows:

  • Built-up areas – 30mph (all vehicles)
  • Single carriageways – 60mph (cars, motorbikes, car-derived vans, motorhomes under 3.05 tonnes)
  • Single carriageways – 50mph (goods vehicles, buses and coaches, vehicles towing trailers or caravans)
  • Dual carriageways – 70mph (cars, motorbikes, car-derived vans, motorhomes under 3.05 tonnes)
  • Dual carriageways – 60mph (goods vehicles, buses, coaches, vehicles towing trailers or caravans)
  • Motorways – 70mph (cars, motorbikes, car-derived vans, motorhomes, buses and coaches less than 12 metres long, unarticulated goods vehicles under 7.5 tonnes)
  • Motorways – 60mph (Goods vehicles over 7.5 tonnes, buses and coaches more than 12 metres long, vehicles towing trailers or caravans)

Local Authorities are also able to implement 20mph zones in areas where there is a potential risk to vulnerable road users.

Driving at high speed reduces the amount of time you have to react to events on or around the road; it also increases the amount of damage you might cause if involved in an accident – this could be to yourself, a passenger, a pedestrian or another road user.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) states that around two thirds of crashes resulting in fatalities occur on roads with a speed limit of less than 30mph. Additionally, there is a 4.5 increased chance of a pedestrian dying if hit by a vehicle travelling at between 30mph and 40mph than one that is driving at less than 30.

Biggest Cause Of Death On The Roads

The new cameras being rolled out in Birmingham are painted yellow to ensure they are highly visible, which allows drivers to easily spot them and slow down if driving above the limit. This means they also act in a traffic calming capacity.

The cameras are the first in the region to be used since West Midlands Police was forced to turn off the old 'wet film' fixed cameras 3 years ago; a cost-cutting exercise that saw the force turn to a sole reliance on mobile speed cameras.

The Crime Commissioner for the West Midlands, David Jamieson, said of the re-introduction:

"Speed is one of the biggest causes of deaths on the road and one of the biggest issues that local people raise with me on a daily basis."

"Birmingham and Solihull are installing the cameras and the police are supporting them by processing and enforcing the fines. This shows that we are on the side of the overwhelming majority of motorists who drive safely and sensibly."

Penalties If Caught Speeding

There are 3 main methods by which the police enforce the national speed limits. These are:

  • Speed camera – Fixed units that measure speed by calculating the time it takes a vehicle to pass between 2 points, automatically issuing tickets to those exceeding limit
  • Speed gun – Roadside 'speed traps' use radar or laser guns to record speeds, with the officer aiming it at a target vehicle and the radio waves or laser beam that is emitted bouncing back to the device, allowing it to measure miles per hour
  • Follow checks – Traffic police use both marked and unmarked cars to carry out 'follow checks', which involve following a vehicle before pulling the suspect over and issuing a warning, a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) or a fixed penalty notice. In certain cases, depending upon the severity of the offence, court action will be taken. The traffic police use their calibrated speedometers, which must be regularly checked and certified, to measure a suspect's speed

Speeding offences are covered by Section 89 of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984 and carry a minimum fixed penalty of a £100 fine, along with 3 penalty points on your licence.

In some instances – at the police force issuing the ticket's discretion – a fine and points can be avoided if attending a Speed Awareness Course.

Although the level of the fine and number of points varies depending upon the gravity of the offence (with driving bans also a possibility), there are no custodial sentences for speeding, except in extreme cases where it strays into the territory of dangerous driving or the offender lies to the police or court.

Raising Road Safety Awareness

Commenting on the return of fixed speed cameras to the streets of Birmingham and Solihull, Rose Gibson says:

"Any initiative that helps to curb speeding on our roads can only be a good thing. The statistics show that excess speed, combined with travelling too fast for the conditions, is one of the main causes of road traffic accidents and leads to a terrible number of injuries and even deaths on our roads."

"Increasing road safety awareness is so critical, which is why Simpson Millar is championing the charity Brake in its Road Safety Week 2016. This annual event aims to both educate and heighten the understanding of safety issues, with the goal of changing driver behaviour."

"As a show of our support, I and other members of our team will be taking part in a fundraising abseil at the Trafford Centre in Manchester. We hope that our efforts can play a small part in making this year's event as successful as the ones from previous years."

Speed Cameras - Simpson Millar LLP Infographic


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