Monday 19th October 2015
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Hidden speed cameras (‘stealth traps’) are like Marmite, love or hate them.  We recently posted some pictures of these cameras on our Facebook page and some people commented that the cameras are just another way of stinging motorists.  Others argued that no one should be speeding in the first place and if you get slapped with a fine you deserve it.  Well, that is true but I think what a lot of us don’t like is the sneaky nature of hidden cameras.

Hidden speed cameras have been successful; there’s been a 25% increase in fines over the last year. Most drivers have been caught on the M25, M4, M5 and M1. Avon & Somerset police and Nottinghamshire police have both reported big increases over the last two years in motorists caught speeding and they credit the grey cameras with this increase.

Complaints mostly centre on the fact that they are painted grey rather than yellow which is what makes them sneaky as they are less obvious. The new versions of speed cameras (Hadecs 3) have cameras that can take shots of all the lanes of a motorway carriageway with wide angle photos for detailed verification.  Advance signs do warn motorists about speed cameras ahead so why should we complain about speeding when a) we shouldn’t be speeding in the first place and b) we do get warnings of cameras ahead?

So fair enough!  But hiding speed cameras in roadside tractors and horse boxes is really sneaky. This is what Humberside Police did recently.  They placed a hidden speed camera in a tractor horsebox at the side of the B1253 in East Yorkshire.  Their aim is to catch out speeding bikers on a road with high collision rates. What they are doing goes against government guidelines. The Department for Transport say that any vehicles which use mobile speed cameras should have livery and clearly state that they are enforcement vehicles. The Association of Chief Police Officers shares this stance but the police are not legally required to follow the guidelines. In their defence Humberside Police are saying they are keen to address the high mortality and accidents rates among motorcylists on the B1253. Over the last 10 years there have been 76 collisons including three fatalities on this road.  Humberside police have been really defensive about this operation which they call Operation Kansas and said that “no further explanation is required”.

Individuals who have captured the tractor and horsebox and posted the images online are up in arms.  So is the Alliance of British Drivers who say: “What do they want to do? Do they want to get motorists to drive at a safer speed or do they just want to catch people? That is what they're clearly doing by acting in this manner. If they want to get people to slow down they should make themselves as visible as possible. To hide themselves away like this is totally nonsensical and scurrilous.”

I think they have a good point about visibility.  If you see the warnings and the cameras you intuitively slow down and this can help to correct a bad driving style.  When there are no warning signs and no obvious cameras what is there to slow you down?  It’s really tempting on a clear stretch of motorway to put your foot down and get to your destination faster.  If you really think about it, cameras and the speed camera warning signs are educating drivers to watch their speed. So is the idea to catch people out and just add to the government coffers through increased speeding fines rather than educate drivers?

The RAC don’t like hidden speed cameras either.  They say: "Speeding is a factor in many accidents but hiding speed cameras is not the answer". The MP for East Yorkshire, Sir Greg Knight also doesn’t approve of these hidden speed cameras tactics: "I am concerned to learn that Humberside Police are not following Department for Transport guidelines which say that vehicles from which mobile speed cameras are deployed should be clearly identifiable as an enforcement vehicle. I intend writing to the chief constable about this matter."

For more information on speed cameras click here.  Looking at the responses to posts on our Facebook page about hidden cameras it is certainly an emotive subject. The political parties seem to be catching the mood of the public.  Labour plan to repaint the cameras to make them easier to see and the Conservatives are making moves to get rid of them altogether.  What do you think?

Should hidden speed cameras be banned let us know in the comments box below.