28 FEBRUARY 2011

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Article from BTNews 28 FEBRUARY 2011

COMMENT: Speed cameras

Before any readers start sending in sympathetic emails, no the editor has not been caught for speeding but he is getting increasingly frustrated with what are legally called safety cameras, are known as speed cameras, and since their introduction have been the cause of endless controversy.

Which? magazine recently published a survey showing that less than 47% of fixed speed traps in England and Wales are operational at any one time.  The City of London has only four such cameras and they only work half the time.  Bedfordshire has 56 with 77% operational and West Mercia just 20 but the working rate is 100%.  Hertfordshire refused to help the magazine.

The real point of discussion is not the actual safety cameras, and here AERBT does believe that they have a value in cutting down accidents, but their implementation and real value.

Our number one complaint is the fact that the speed limit does not go on the yellow box visible to the driver.  Why not?  The actual speed limit on any particular piece of road is often not easy to see.  A particularly bad example is the A40 Hendon Way from London towards Brent Cross.  Quite what the legal limit is on part of this road is very difficult to read.  If the number were to be painted on the actual boxes there would be no claim that the speed limit could not be seen.  It would also be an opportunity to reduce what is known as “street furniture” a definite target of the Department for Transport.

Our other big gripe is the actual speed limits themselves.  Who sets them and what are the guidelines?  Many are in fact historical and have been in position, often quite correctly, for perhaps as long as 50 years. 

But have you recently driven a 50-year-old car?  Or even one half that age.

What will become very apparent is that it does not go very well, the brakes will probably be abysmal, and the ride and handling could only be described as poor by today’s standards. 

In other words whilst the modern car will be faster, it will stop much quicker and the standard of construction is very much enhanced.  From all aspects it will be a safer car.

The 70mph speed limit (which is generally ignored on Motorways) was set when the original Mini could only do 70mph and the Morris Minor 65.  80mph would be much more sensible.

The point is that the 21st century speed limits do not reflect this century’s driving.  Gone are the days when cars with Automobile Association badges on them received a salute from the AA men on their motorbikes as they passed by.  Yes to 20mph in school areas at certain times.

Which brings us back to the original point.  Please, please Mr Department for Transport paint the speed limit on the cameras.  AERBT is read in Whitehall.  Someone please mention this to them.  You may be the next person booked for not knowing how fast you are allowed to go!

Malcolm Ginsberg
Editor in Chief

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