Go slow: police win the right to camouflage speed camerasBy Ben Webster
The prominent yellow boxes may be harder to identify from next year
MOTORISTS face the return of hidden speed cameras after rules governing
their siting and visibility cease to be enforced from April 2007.
Camera partnerships, which include police and local authorities,
will be able to repaint yellow cameras to make them blend into the background.
They will also be able to install cameras where there is a
speeding problem but little History
At present the partnerships are bound by strict rules issued by
the Department for Transport. The cameras must be painted bright
yellow and be visible from at least 60m (200ft) away. They can be
installed only at sites where there have been at least three
collisions causing death or serious injury and three causing
slight injury within a kilometre in the previous three years.
Many partnerships believe that the rules are too restrictive.
Last autumn, Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales Police,
said that many more lives would be saved if there were more
flexibility in camera location.
He said: “Parents often write to us and ask us to put a camera
outside a school because the traffic is so dangerous. It’s very
difficult to write back and say, ‘Please let us know when your
son is killed and then we can consider putting a camera there.’ ”
Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, said in December that
partnerships would no longer be able to keep the cash from camera
fines to pay for more cameras. They will get grants from a central
road safety fund to pay for cameras or alternative measures such
as new markings or humps.
Ian Bell, the camera liaison officer for the Association of Chief
Police Officers, said that regional differences were likely.
“If a highway authority wants to install more cameras and they
have the money there will be nothing to stop them. They may
decide to put cameras in places the criteria do not currently
allow, such as in villages and around schools.”
Lee Murphy, speed camera manager for Cheshire, said:
“If the rules weren’t compulsory we could use cameras
to tackle emerging trends rather than waiting for the minimum
number of collisions.”
A Department of Transport spokesman said: “Local authorities
will have freedom to use cameras where appropriate and where
they see fit. But we do not want to see a return to the bad old
days of cameras being hidden behind trees. We are minded to use
guidance to achieve this, but if authorities flout it we will
consider regulation. If they want to paint cameras grey we
will want to know why.”
Kevin Delaney, the head of road safety at the RAC Foundation, said:
“We are concerned that some partnerships will conceal cameras
and risk losing the trust of motorists. It makes sense for
cameras to be yellow because it slows people down at accident blackspots.”
Brake, a road safety charity, welcomed the new flexibility
for partnerships. Mary Williams, its chief executive, said:
“Requiring casualties before action is abhorrent and results
in needless deaths. We welcome the opportunity for covert
enforcement because too many motorists simply slow down
briefly for a yellow camera.”