NI 36 - Will Cameras issue speeding fines on Smart Motorways?

Post date: 05-Feb-2016 09:46:32

Smart motorways should help to manage the traffic flow but concerns have been raised that they could also be used to raise revenue by issuing speeding fines and PCNs.

You might have heard of ‘smart motorways’. The name conjures up images of intelligent traffic management monitoring and reaction to that massages the flow of cars and lorries to reduce congestion and shrink journey times and with that pollution levels from all the UK travel. This system may activate the legal use of the hard shoulder as a motorway lane as required to ease blockages, have gantry signs warning of impending dangers with dynamic speed limits calculated at peak congestion to aid the better flow of congested traffic. The reality however might not be so pleasant with the motorists' actually sleepwalking into an Orwellian scenario that will criminalize many previously law-abiding drivers on what are some of the worlds safest roads to travel along.

The National Police Chiefs Council current recommendation is that police forces only prosecute drivers if they exceed the speed limit by 10% plus 2mph hence on the motorways provided you are below 80mph you should be ignored and not prosecuted. With this new camera system this may now not be the case any more.

The new grey speed cameras being installed across motorways are grey to hide them more from the motorist. For anyone looking for speed cameras their eyes will now be very more substantially off the road ahead, creating alarming hazards at such high speed with only split seconds between safety and danger with potential enormous repercussions in cost of life and road repairs, trying to identify and make them out from their surrounding architecture.

These new HADECS3 (Highway Agency Digital Enforcement Camaera System3) has ZERO TOLERANCE built-in to it as standard. Hence if you stray over the speed limit by only 1mph you will now face a £100 fine with 3 penalty points on their licence creating increased car insurance premiums for the next 5 years! The camera has no discretion so if you speed expect a nasty letter in the post.

Where are these cameras at the start of 2016?

Stretches of the M25, M6, M62 and M4/5 have them in situ' and this is to be extended to include the M1, M23 and further extend on the M3, M4, M5, M6.

Basic driver support advice - as if you need to be told this?

1. Never drive under a red "X" in your motorway lanes

2. Strictly keep within the speed limit shown on the gantries

3. A SOLID WHITE LINE indicates the hard shoulder.

Never drive in it unless directed to unless forced to by having a breakdown.

Emergency refuge areas are provided as a place of safety but these are 2.5km (what happened to miles?!?) apart!

- The serious concern here is the lack of a hard shoulder in the event of an emergency or breakdown.

- This creates many very serious dangers and potential pile-ups to happen!

I know for I had sloppy roadworks on the M1 in 2014 (on a long journey to York) puncture and shred a brand high new quality rear tyre, before Chesterfield junction, forcing myself to pull up in lane 1 because there had been no hard shoulder for some 20 miles due to resurfacing. I had kept going for as long as I could, much of it very slowly with hazards as I was on the alloy wheel rim with little rubber remaining, trying to find a pull off point but there were none!! From lane 1 with hazards on I evacuated female passenger over a 3.5 feet steel blockades onto the hard shoulder whilst I then in carefully on the inner edge next to the barrier on lane 1 tried to ensure no dozy driver drove into the back of my stranded car by not expecting a stationery vehicle ahead of them!

I raised my boot lid to help get the earliest attention of on-coming drivers, thinking that should press their alert button, of which many were breaking the 50mph speed limit in force by 10mph or more. Police eventually came to help. They conned the rear of the car off after telling me off for using common sense in seeking to warn oncoming traffic until they arrived at the scene in trying to avoid a pile-up or any avoidable accident happening. The police closed my boot and I moved from against the steel blockade in lane 1 (could have jumped through in seconds if had needed to) to the hard shoulder lane on the other side of the blockade. I had my temporary flag and pointer from my car boot that I had used to try to get approaching cars to signal and move into lane 2 asap so that they did not have to slam on their brakes to avoid or hit our car or take anyone out by violently swerving to avoid it. There were a few near misses and we (including road worker near by that came to us) have no doubt that some vehicles would have crashed into our car without my grabbing their attention to alert them of the hazard a few seconds ahead, they should have already reacted to the hazard but had failed to.

The police officer informed me that every hour a minimum of 10 vehicles be they cars, vans or HGV's were stranded with punctured, collapsed, shredded tyres 24 hours of each day and that it could be an hour before any emergency vehicle was free to arrive and recover our car as so, so constantly! WE WERE NOT IMPRESSED, all 3 lanes off the motorway had been badly, roughly gouged to remove the top surfaces in preparation for the new tarmac to go down but they had not kept any of the lanes clean or cleared the sharp stones and rock size debris they had created and left when reopening the lanes so hundreds of punctures were inevitable.

The whole episode was very frightening and we feared for our safety and lives as I tried to stop our car somewhere safe and even more so as we evacuated the car asap from the middle of lane 1 and then anticipated crashes into it as people blindly raced up to it. That forced myself to act sensibly in minimising my danger whilst setting the car up to alert people, putting boot lid up to further visually aid the hazard lights, and using objects within boot to assist me in giving lane 1 motorists some early warning a few hundred feet behind our stationery car.

The future?

The new government has confirmed that all speed cameras must be painted yellow by October 2016.

The government has also blocked plans by Bedfordshire police to turn on all their cameras as an alternative source of revenue, the Treasury confirmed that any money raised would go into its bank account and not that of the police.

The threat does remain and many people obviously see this as another stealth tax on the motorist with the government reaping the rewards but personally I would expect the total sums to be very insignificant in the grand scale of monetary issue, no more than some loose change?

Source: 2016 motoring correspondences with personal commentary

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