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Mobility & Transport - Road Safety

United Kingdom


United Kingdom


In the UK, camera enforcement is organized by partnerships between police, local authorities and the court [12]. These partnerships not only look at speeding but also at red light running. The cameras are called safety cameras; the partnerships are called safety camera partnerships. The objectives of Safety Camera Partnerships are to reduce death and serious injury by reducing the level and severity of speeding and red light running. The aim is to do this by preventing, detecting and enforcing speed and red light offences using, but not limited to, camera technology and driver education programmes. Some partnerships also include road safety engineering as a method of contributing to the aim. The programme is part of the UK government's Road Safety Strategy that seeks a 40% reduction in fatalities and serious injuries by 2010 and a 50% reduction in fatalities and serious injuries of children (compared to the average of 1994-1998).


Gains et al. [25] evaluated the Safety Camera Partnerships in terms of driving speed and crashes. They included 38 areas where a Safety Camera Partnership had been running for at least one year. The main results were as follows:

  • Vehicle speeds went down. Vehicle speeds dropped by around 6% following the introduction of cameras. The number of cars exceeding the speed limit was reduced by 31%. At fixed camera sites this was 70%; at mobile camera sites 18%. The proportion of vehicles speeding excessively (i.e. by more than 15mph (24 km/h)) fell by 91% at fixed sites, and by 36% at mobile sites.
  • Both casualties and fatalities went down. After allowing for the long-term trend, but without allowing for selection effects (such as regression to the mean) there was a 22% reduction in personal injury collisions at camera sites; the number of fatalities and severely injured decreased by 42%.
  • There was a positive cost-benefit of around 1:2.7. In the fourth year, the benefits to society from the avoided injuries were around A£258 million (€ 369 million) compared to enforcement costs of around A£96 million (€137 million).

Success factors

Success factors for the camera safety partnerships were [42]

  • Evaluation of both the effectiveness of management and financial control, and the effectiveness of crash reduction.
  • Extension of trial partnerships programmes to general implementation.
  • Sustained debate among researchers to establish conclusive evidence of effectiveness.

Procedures and guidelines

Each year, a Safety Camera Partnership has to submit its plans for the following year to the Department for Transport for approval. These plans detail the activities the Partnership proposes to undertake. Once being approved, the Partnership publishes its plans and makes sure that the location details of fixed cameras are made available to both the public and local media.

The Department for Transport issues an annually updated handbook, which contains clear rules and guidelines covering where and how safety cameras should be placed, and measures to be taken to ensure that drivers are aware of them (published on Department for Transport under the Road safety area). The handbook states, for example, that fixed cameras must be located only at sites where there have been at least four crashes per km involving fatalities or seriously injured casualties in the last three years. Additional sites may be considered after all possible sites meeting this criterion have been dealt with. All safety cameras should be bright yellow to ensure maximum visibility. The Department for Transport is now undertaking a review governing the use of mobile speed cameras. The Association of Chief Police Officers has asked for the review because they think the current guidelines are too restrictive. One relaxation being considered is to extend the maximum distance covered by mobile camera sites from 5 km to 20 km.

Funding mechanisms

The Partnerships are funded on a 'cost recovery' basis through money raised from fines. This money is reinvested into the road safety camera programme. The partnerships will only be reimbursed enough to cover the programme costs, including facilities and equipment costs as well as public information campaigns. The remaining fine revenues go to the National Treasury. The Partnerships do not make a profit; they have been set up as a transparent way of taking the funds from fines and using them to prevent collisions. There is no incentive to place cameras other than to improve road safety.

Public acceptance

Local and national surveys conducted during the Partnership programme showed a generally positive attitude by the public to the use of safety cameras for targeted enforcement. However, there is an indication of some decline in support [42] (Table 4). The Department for Transport has responded by providing information on its website clarifying the rules governing the implementation of cameras and their use. The Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety has also published a leaflet to dispel the negative myths about the use and effectiveness of cameras.

Statement about speed cameras 1998 2003 2004-2005
Cameras are intended to encourage drivers to stick to limits, not to punish them 83 80 76
Fewer collisions are likely to happen on road where cameras are installed 67 72 68
Cameras are an easy way of making money out of motorists 45 45 52
Cameras mean that dangerous drivers are more likely to get caught 78 68 61
Use of safety cameras should be supported as a means of reducing casualties - - 79
The primary aim of cameras is to save lives - - 68
There are too many safety cameras in our local area - - 22

Table 5 Percentage of drivers answering yes to statements (Source: Lynam et al, 2005)