SpeedSpike GPS speed cameras won’t improve safety

So speed cameras are about to become even more sophisticated.  The PIPS Technology ‘SpeedSpike’ system uses a satellite positioning system and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to track vehicles and it has now been tested in England.  It begs the question, just how much taxpayers’ money has been spent on developing and deploying the various forms of speed cameras that have raked in over £1billion in fines since Labour came to office?

The problem is speed is a factor in only a minority of accidents.  In 2006 figures showed that excessive speed was reported as a factor in just 15% of all road accidents and in 26% of crashes where there were fatalities.  So while hundreds of millions of pounds are spent on systems that can generate revenue, where is the investment in reducing the 85% of all road accidents where speed is not a factor?  Perhaps the attraction of SpeedSpike is its reliance on many more ANPR cameras, which enables the police to store images of vehicles and drivers for up to two years and could be used in any future effort to conduct real time tracking of individual vehicles or people.

What is being done about the defective vehicles being driven on our roads? What about the increasing prevalence of drug-driving? What about banned or unqualified drivers who still get behind the wheel? What about the need for more road safety education for children? What about the extent of dangerous driving, where among other things we see all too often drivers tailgating, not paying attention to the road, manoeuvering without looking properly, undertaking and going through traffic lights that have turned red?

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the government is more interested in fining motorists and imposing penalties that can raise money for often minor speed transgressions in otherwise safe conditions, rather than addressing flaws in road design, road conditions, making driving tests more rigorous and improving the overall standard of driving.  Having more traffic police on patrol would deal with the problems that speed cameras self evidently cannot.  The financially motivated, one dimensional approach to road safety where technology is set to record and fine drivers who exceed limits that are often set unrealistically low for modern vehicles and conditions, has to come to an end.

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8 Responses to “SpeedSpike GPS speed cameras won’t improve safety”


  1. 1 Chuckles 20/04/2010 at 8:06 pm

    Well of course they won’t increase safety. In the unlikely event that the have anything to do with GPS, all it could do is log the position of the camera. GPS satellites are flying clocks. All they do is transmit the time from an accurately determined orbit.

    You don’t think some product of the UK education system has confused GPS with GPRS GSM network protocol do you?

  2. 2 Mike Spilligan 20/04/2010 at 8:57 pm

    All true, but most drivers just don’t seem to care. There are several good campaigning organisations (I belong to the ABD) but most won’t join until something happens to them individually. (I’ve been told that the ABD gets phone calls saying, “I’ll join if you can get me off a drink driving charge.”)
    Compared with the total cost of driving one vehicle for a year the annual subs are very small and it’s about the only thing that can be done since the RAC and AA have given up looking after drivers’ interests.

  3. 3 jameshigham 21/04/2010 at 7:56 am

    They’re not there for safety reasons – they’re there for command and control reasons, as you say.

  4. 4 Chuckles 21/04/2010 at 10:13 am

    Minor update – the only reason for the GPS is to provide a single accurate time reference all the cameras can use to ‘tag’ their images.

    Hence my earlier ‘flying clocks’ reference, it’s a very common use of GPS signals.

    Does rather suggest that earlier generations of ANPR systems might have a problem with clock drift between the cameras? I’d love to see them prove otherwise.

    Mike the ABD might want to follow up on that. A great organisation by the way.

  5. 5 Paul Taylor 21/04/2010 at 11:59 am

    I find it less suprising everytime i read about one of these screw the motorist campaigns. Only a very few select pillocks will agree that money would be better spent by a Government in educating drivers and pedestrians with regard to road safety. Any Government Labour/conservative or any of the other parties will always look to sponge money out of the motorist because its easy, the Police are not able to go out and do there job to the fullest extent because of red tape put in place by the governments as police officers (although not often) can be sympathetic given reasonable reasons for the occassional misdemeanor whereas a camera system just sais this is the law your not abiding by it give us some money. I say the motorist is an easy target purely because nearly every family in the uk has atleast one car which is used on a daily basis as time constraints make other forms of mobility inadequate.

  6. 6 Johnboy 25/04/2010 at 5:35 am

    Chuckles is spot on. This is old stuff. Has been tested in Australia for over 4 years now. It is being held up by the pollies.

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