The Parliamentary Transport Committee has called for the more widespread use of average speed cameras on Britain's roads in order to combat offences which are going undetected due to falling numbers of traffic police.
Regular speed cameras have always been controversial, drawing criticism from sceptics who say they're more dangerous and environmentally damaging than other speed limit enforcement methods. Critics say the fixed cameras cause drivers to brake sharply when they notice them, and then accelerate once they have passed the camera.
In its conclusions and recommendations, the committee calls for the greater use of avearge speed cameras which reduce the likelihood of drivers claiming to have been unfairly caught speeding and lessen the environmental impact of sharply decelerating and accelerating cars.
The committee recently posted figures for its detected motoring offences. The data shows that between 2004 and 2013 the number of recorded offences dropped from 4.3million to 1.6m. The committee was quick to add that this was not due to better-behaved motorists but was the result of the reduced number of traffic police on the road.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), feels that alternatives should be considered. "With speed enforcement, the solution should always be a safety-based decision, whether implementing fixed or average speed cameras," he said. "Many roads which are perfectly safe would not benefit from cameras, so there wouldn't be a case for putting cameras there.
"Roads with speeding problems or accident blackspots should be targeted. Average speed cameras are expensive to install, so the money could be better spent on improving signage, lighting and a number of other road safety features. Roads can be re-engineered to be safer, so options and permanent solutions need to be explored, rather than a blanket average speed camera introduction. The merits of average speed cameras are apparent, and their compliance record is promising, but the idea of a blanket introduction to try to control drivers' speeding seems a more extreme solution than the problem warrants."