'Visible' speed cameras unveiled
|03/12/2001||Monday, 3 December, 2001,
Speed cameras have not been so visible in the past
High visibility speed cameras painted bright yellow are being unveiled by the government on Monday.
The cameras, to be launched by Transport Minister John Spellar, will come with new rules on the position of camera signs as part of a drive to cut the number of accidents.
Despite plans to introduce thousands more cameras on the UK's roads, the government is worried many drivers brake suddenly when they see one.
New cameras will be bright yellow in the 15 areas where police forces use money from fines to pay for more cameras, the "netting-off" scheme.
Updated regulations will be announced for the rest of the country early next year but ministers have indicated every camera in the country will eventually be repainted.
Under the new measures, speed cameras must now be visible from a distance of 66 yards on roads with a speed limit of up to 40mph and 109 yards for speeds above that.
Police forces will also be forbidden from putting up speed trap warning signs on long stretches of roads where there are no cameras.
The signs will now have to be no more than two thirds of a mile from the nearest camera.
The government has already announced that speed cameras can only be put in locations with a history of crashes.
Motorists believe the government - or the police - are just using them to collect money
Mr Spellar said: "These rules should ensure that motorists are not caught by surprise by cameras.
"I hope that this will reinforce the government's message that cameras are there to save lives at places where there is a history of speed related accidents.
"They are not there as a means of raising money."
Cameras in beauty spots can remain grey under the new regulations.
In August, Norfolk's chief constable Ken Williams, who chairs the Association of Chief Police Officers' traffic committee, argued the need to make speed cameras more visible.
He said hidden cameras alienated drivers and added: "Police officers get no joy out of issuing fixed penalty tickets, but they get a lot of satisfaction out of changing behaviour and attitudes to speed."
Mr Williams' force was one of the first to introduce bright cameras as a solution.
Now they will appear in Cambridgeshire, Cleveland, Derbyshire, Essex, Lancashire, Lincolnshire, North Wales, Northamptonshire, Nottingham, South Wales, Staffordshire, Strathclyde, Thames Valley and Warwickshire.
Applications from 12 other police forces to join the netting-off scheme are being processed.
Richard Freeman of the Automobile Association (AA) told BBC News Online that drivers would welcome the high visibility cameras.
"All our research shows that the public do not like the idea of speed cameras being hidden away or not clearly signed," he explained.
"And it is a pity that we have seen a gradual erosion of camera signing.
"We have also seen the opposite - where there are signs but no cameras.
"So motorists do not know what is going on."
More than 75% of drivers still support the use of speed cameras, according to Mr Freeman.
"But problems begin when people think there is an element of entrapment," he added.
"Support drops off in areas where cameras are not well signed because motorists believe the government - or the police - are just using them to collect money."