Any driver will be familiar with this situation: you’re hurtling down the motorway, when you notice a new speed limit displayed on LED signs hanging above. The big question is do you slow down? Judging by the latest figures revealed, it seems like an awful lot of us do not!
Variable speed cameras were first installed on motorways across the UK in 2013, but in those four years alone, they have raised a staggering £526 million through speeding fines.
Temporary speed limits on motorways are designed to ease congestion and to encourage people to slow down when driving conditions are hazardous, such as in heavy rain or thick fog. However, the high number of fines issued does suggest that perhaps some people do not even realise that those temporary speed limits are not optional.
The reduction in the speed limit can be dramatic, jumping from 70mph down to as low as 20mph. Often, people will find themselves speeding without even realizing it!
Since 2013, more than 210,000 drivers have been caught speeding by these cameras, with the numbers seemingly only set to rise. The bad news for motorists is that there are plans in motions for these ‘smart motorways’ to be rolled out across the UK.
As always with speed cameras, some are proving to be far more lucrative than others. The most fines issued were on the M4 between J19 and J20, travelling in both directions, which amount to a staggering 40,320 penalty notices in the year 2015-16. This translates to a serious amount of money, which is great news for the government, but the real question is how do drivers benefit?
According to figures obtained as part of a FOI request (Freedom of Information) it appears that these changes in speed limit are causing drivers to brake sharply, and could actually be causing more accidents to occur rather than less.
Over ¼ of those surveyed don’t think there is enough notice before the speed limit changes, and 1/3 actually feel these sudden changes are dangerous due to cars having to brake unexpectedly.
Nonetheless, it seems these cameras are here to stay. To stay safe and avoid getting caught out, keep a good distance between your car and the one in front, and always stick to the speed limit shown on the gantries.