Half of drivers want average speed cameras to enforce motorway limits

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Motorists back more effective enforcement even though half admit to breaking the law

More than half of Britain’s motorists believe that average speed cameras should be used to enforce the 70mph speed limit on motorways, despite a similar number admitting to regularly breaking the limit.

A study into drivers’ attitudes to speeding found the majority also supported using the cameras in place of fixed cameras on other high-speed roads.

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The cameras measure drivers’ speed between a series of points rather than relying on a fixed single “speed trap”, making it harder for drivers to speed on stretches with average camera systems.

Average cameras are already used in roadworks on motorwaysAverage cameras are already used in roadworks on motorways
Average cameras are already used in roadworks on motorways

Fifty-eight per cent of drivers questioned by the RAC said they would support installing such cameras on roads with 60mph and 70mph limits, such as A roads and dual carriageways. Fifty-four per cent also said they would also back their use in place of fixed speed cameras on motorways.

At the moment, the cameras are used on some A roads but are only used on motorways to enforce lower limits through roadworks.

Average speed cameras were also preferred by the majority of drivers for use on 40-50mph limit roads with 46 per cent favouring them, compared to 29 per cent for fixed position cameras. However, on 20-30mph limit roads drivers preferred fixed cameras (43 per cent compared with 25 per cent).

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There was less support for average speed cameras in areas with lower limitsThere was less support for average speed cameras in areas with lower limits
There was less support for average speed cameras in areas with lower limits

Although most drivers supported camera enforcement of speed limits, the majority also admitted to speeding. Fifty-six per cent said they had broken the limit on motorways, with 36 per cent saying they drove in excess of 80mph. Three per cent admitted driving at more than 100mph.

Fewer drivers broke the limit on other roads, but 39 per cent still disobeyed 20mph limits, 33 per cent broke rural 60mph limits and 36 per cent sped on 30mph urban roads.

In 20mph zones, nearly half (45 per cent) of those who broke the limit said they did so because they didn’t feel the limit was appropriate. However, on motorways the most common excuse was to blame others, with 39 per cent saying they were simply following the example set by others.

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said the figures suggested drivers viewed average speed cameras as a fairer means of enforcement.

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He commented: “With so many motorists admitting to driving much faster than they should on the motorway, it was interesting to see such strong support for average speed cameras to be used more widely to enforce the 70mph limit. We believe drivers see these cameras as being very effective at reducing speeds over longer distances and controlling traffic flow as well as being fairer than fixed position ones as they aren’t instantly punished for a momentary transgression.

“Our research shows speed limit compliance on all types of road has improved on previous years, but as our study was carried out during the pandemic we suspect this has partly been brought about by the reduction in the number of journeys carried out for the purposes of commuting – or for other business purposes – where drivers feel greater time pressure and may be more tempted to break the law by speeding.”