By on June 28, 2007

speed12.jpgAs a “victim” of the UK’s anti-speeding jihad, I’ve been watching their “safety camera” campaign with morbid fascination. Here you have a reasonably democratic government unleashing a mega-tsunami of electronic surveillance to curb a behavior practiced by the vast majority of its populace. The results have been staggering: millions of licenses imperiled or revoked, tens of millions in pounds in fines collected, no appreciable diminution of violations and no increase in road safety. And yet, the jihadists remain determined to carry on. So when speed camera opponents launched a “scrapcam” petition, I expected a groundswell of support. Silly me.

Last November, as part of [former] Prime Minister Tony Blair’s commitment to web-based accountability, the UK government launched an online petition-posting widget. In February, an anti-camera group called Safe Speed uploaded a petition calling for the Prime Minister to “scrap speed cameras.” Their one-paragraph call to action characterized speed cameras as a lousy landing at the wrong airport.

“Far from making our roads safer, speed cameras have replaced genuine life saving policies and distracting everyone from more important safety factors. Instead… -We must have road safety policies based on skills, attitudes and responsibilities… We must avoid needlessly prosecuting skilled and responsible drivers driving safely – We must measure what is important, not make important that which is easily measured – and you can't measure safe driving in miles per hour."

On Tuesday, the petition closed, with some 28k signatures collected. Speaking to us today from London, Safe Speed’s founder pronounced himself pleased with the results. “Considering we had no publicity, it was a good showing” Paul Smith asserted. “Of the 7,700 petitions online, ours was the seventh most signed.”

Smith is not so happy with the government’s response. The officials sent every signatory an email that attempted to ameliorate their concerns. Smith considers it patently unfair that the government should have the last word, and not allow petitioners to email signatories who agree to such contact. In fact, he’s “ABSOLUTELY LIVID” that 10 Downing Street sent out an “inaccurate and grossly misleading” rebuttal.

Safe Speed responded with a press release tearing apart the government’s pro-camera argument piece by bloody piece. Here's a small sample of their evisceration [Safe Speed’s answers indicated by an asterisk]:

Speeding kills. It is a contributory factor in 26% of all fatal accidents in Great Britain.

* No it isn't. According to Department for Transport figures exceeding a speed limit it is a contributory factor in 12% of fatal crashes. We know that many of those are caused by reckless and 'abnormal' driver behaviour.

The facts are stark. If a child pedestrian is hit at 30mph they stand an 80% chance of surviving. But if they are hit at 40mph they stand an 80% chance of dying. That is why the Government is committed to achieving appropriate vehicle speeds on the roads as part of its integrated road safety strategy.

* The true facts are more encouraging. In 2005 in built up areas (20, 30 and 40 mph speed limits) 11,000 child pedestrians were injured out of which 47 were killed. 0.42% were killed. So clearly we're not running into them at 'speed limit' speeds because at 30mph we would have killed 2,200. The claim is grossly misleading.  

Independent research published in December 2005 shows that safety cameras had saved around 1,745 people from being killed or seriously injured, and had prevented around 4,230 personal injury collisions on Britain's roads each year.

* That very same report reveals – buried in appendix h – that 'regression to mean effect' accounts for a full three quarters of the benefit claimed. To make the claim while ignoring the known error is nothing less than a FRAUD.

Clearly, Smith and his cohorts know their onions. Not so clearly, their campaign is gaining ground.

On the first of April, the Department of Transportation officially disowned the speed camera policy. They transferred all responsibility for the scheme’s implementation to regional authorities, giving them the freedom to amp-up or ditch the entire policy as they see fit. Equally importantly, a seven-year case against speed cameras at the European Court of Human Rights is set to be resolved tomorrow.

The case was brought by UK resident Idris Francis. Francis’ briefs argued that the UK government does not have the right to legally compel Mr. Francis to identify the driver of his vehicle at the time it was captured speeding by a “safety camera.” The demand violates his legal protection against self-incrimination.

According to Smith, if the European court strikes down the ticket (believe it or not), that’s it: speeding camera prosecutions will no longer be viable. And if it doesn’t? I mean… 28k supporters ain't much. Safe Speed's 52-year-old engineer turned road safety campaigner is resolute. “We’ll still be here, fighting this dangerous policy to the very end. It’s only a matter of time.” 

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58 Comments on “UK Speed Cameras RIP?...”


  • avatar
    miked

    The case was brought by UK resident Idris Francis. Francis’ briefs argued that the UK government does not have the right to legally compel Mr. Francis to identify the driver of his vehicle at the time it was captured speeding by a “safety camera.” The demand violates his legal protection against self-incrimination.

    IANAL, and I have never had to try this, but in the US, we have the 4th admendment that already spells out that right. If you get a camera ticket, you can always say that it wasn’t you who was driving the car and then invoke your 4th admendment right not to specify who was driving the car.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    miked:
    IANAL, and I have never had to try this, but in the US, we have the 4th admendment that already spells out that right. If you get a camera ticket, you can always say that it wasn’t you who was driving the car and then invoke your 4th admendment right not to specify who was driving the car

    I should try that one next time! How do you even start to claim that in court?

  • avatar
    chamar

    A great part of the problem is that the Automotive design has come a long way since the 30s~50s when the original speed limits were set, so while in 1950 30mph may have been a dangerous proposition, today the cars do not even feel as moving till then hit a solid 65mph+ range.

  • avatar
    KTF

    In the UK if the driver is not identified the points and fine get sent to the registered owner of the vehicle instead.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It’s the Fifth Amendment that protects criminal defendants from self-incrimination, not the Fourth Amendment.

    States with cameras tend to have statutes that compel a defendant to testify against himself, and will otherwise punish the registered owner in the absence of an identified defendant. You would likely be convicted, then need to have a successful appeal in order to prevail on a camera ticket based upon a Fifth Amendment argument. (And be prepared for the judge to alternately mock you and roll his eyes as he imposes the maximum punishment.)

    Some states make camera offenses civil matters, rather than criminal, which also arguably evades the constitutional prohibition against self-incrimination. From parking tickets to the OJ Simpson civil trial, civil courts are now routinely being used as a means to impose fines and punishments without the same legal litmus tests (guilt beyond a reasonable doubt vs. a proponderance of the evidence) required in a criminal court.

  • avatar
    omnivore

    chamar … force is still an exponential function of speed, in 2007 just like in 1950. While I don’t dispute that today’s cars are infinitely safer and more capable than cars were 50 years ago, a speeding car is still just as dangerous to people and objects outside the car as it was back in the day.

  • avatar
    NoneMoreBlack

    Not to be pedantic, but it’s the 5th amendment that guards against self-incrimination. Pleading the 4th (right against search and seizure) might get some funny looks when the judge is asking if it was you who was driving.

    /edit: Oops, too slow.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Excessive speed monitoring can be dangerous. It appears the Australians have also developed a taste for excessive enforcement. In order to avoid speeding tickets a driver has to constantly look at the speedometer instead of the road. The Aussie speed enforcers also love staking out places where overtaking is possible on an otherwise curvy road which is leading to drivers spending dangerous amounts of time in the wrong lane. Like in the UK, it is nothing more than revenue raising. Most of the automated enforcement has been handed over to private companies who get a share of the fines which motivates them to book as many drivers as possible regardless of the circumstances. In some towns 80% of driving residents have got a speeding ticket over a 24 month period. This does nothing more than erode respect for the Police and other traffic laws.

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    omnivore:
    June 28th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    chamar … force is still an exponential function of speed, in 2007 just like in 1950.

    Force has nothing to do with speed, and the formula has been force=mass * acceleration since Newton published it in 1687. Or since the Big Bang, whatever your preferred reference.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Where I am they use video cameras and an officer must view the camera tape. No easy snapshots and mailing of fines. The process is still there but no private companies get involved.
    Not true in washington dc. they shortened the yellow lights and revenue for the private concern as well as the city went up

  • avatar
    miked

    Areitu: From what I’ve read, you go to the arraignment, say that you weren’t driving the car and that you’ll sign an affidavit to that fact. Then when the judge asks you who was driving the car, you say that the 4th admendment protects your right to privacy and you won’t be stating that. I’ve read from a number of differenct sources that it works.

    Pch101: Yes, I know the 5th protects self incrimination. I meant the 4th because it protects your right to privacy. You could probably also use the 5th too in some way. But I’ve read that the 4th works. I think it works a lot like why the police can’t search your car during a speeding stop. The camera can get your for speeding, but it has no probable cause to “search” your car. E.g., you can have a big black box in the back of your car during a normal traffic stop, the policeman can see the box because it’s in plain sight, but if he asks what’s in the box, you have the right not to tell him. Here the camera sees the person driving, but you are not compelled to release the identity of that person.

  • avatar
    miked

    # chamar:
    June 28th, 2007 at 12:39 pm

    A great part of the problem is that the Automotive design has come a long way since the 30s~50s when the original speed limits were set, so while in 1950 30mph may have been a dangerous proposition, today the cars do not even feel as moving till then hit a solid 65mph+ range.

    You ain’t kiddin! A couple of months ago I picked up a ’76 CJ-5. I’m shocked that when going through a corner, I actually have to go the speed suggested by the little yellow sign. And the speed limits actually feel reasonable (or even a little fast).

  • avatar
    miked

    # omnivore:
    June 28th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    chamar … force is still an exponential function of speed, in 2007 just like in 1950. While I don’t dispute that today’s cars are infinitely safer and more capable than cars were 50 years ago, a speeding car is still just as dangerous to people and objects outside the car as it was back in the day.

    Force Is a linear function of acceleration.

    Momentum is a linear function of velocity.

    Energy is a quadratic function of velocity.

    Really, though the speed limit should be set on the kind of accident encountered. In residential area, a low speed limit makes sence because it doesn’t matter if a pedestrian gets hit with a 1930’s car going 25mph or a modern car going 25mph, it’s still going to be not good.

    On limited acces highways, I can see setting a higher speed limit. Along with a speed minimum to keep the speed differential smaller. If you can’t/don’t feel comfortable doing the minimum speed, then you take a different road.

  • avatar
    mikey

    We had photo radar in Ontario in 1993 to 1995.All it really did was make a lot of money for the province.
    The OPP would set up an unmarked van on a bridge or on the side of the road and take a photo of your car.Just imagine the havoc caused when sombody spoted a van,any van anywhere brakes jammed on, swerving rearenders.Throw in a little ice or snow,nutso.
    They sent you a picture of your car time stamped speed, and fine.
    Nothing like getting a photo of your car and the girl with you[not your wife]when your suposed to be at work
    They sent my buddy a photo of his car,he sent them a photo of his money[the courts didn’t see the humor]
    At election time the wannabe premier said if I’m elected I will dump photo radar.He won no more photos in the mail.

  • avatar
    zenith

    We don’t yet have these monstrosities on the Nebraska side of the Missouri, but ther are a few over in Concil bluffs,IA, financed with gambling taxes that the people were told would improve the schools, highways,
    etc.

    It is my understanding that if you mistime the yellow and get the vehicle stopped within the painted crosswalk, but not yet into the intersection itself, you’re still screwed. Doesn’t even matter that there were no pedestrians either in the crosswalk or waiting for the WALK light–you’ve “run” the red and you’ll be ticketed and probably fined by some judge who doesn’t want to be seen as soft on crime.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    For a democratic country, I disagree that the anti-camera movement has done much or even shown that it has a lot of support. And I’m surprised by that.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I’m sorry, but I seriously doubt that a Fourth Amendment argument would hold water with a judge. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure of physical evidence. The Fifth Amendment deals with testimony.

    I believe that the more likely outcome that you will be laughed out of court for attempting to play Perry Mason in the judge’s courtroom. Judges HATE it when non-lawyers attempt to emulate attorneys.

    It may be your right to try it out, but in practice, those efforts are about as welcome as a non-member of the fraternity trying to fake his way through the secret handshake. The judge will probably nail you with an extra special fine as a reward for the effort. I wouldn’t advise doing this.

  • avatar

    While I think pleading the Fifth Amendment when you know you’re lying is wrong no matter the circumstances, attempts to automatically hold the registered owner of the vehicle liable for the ticket are also wrong and merely show the futility of trying to make speed cameras a fair, just proposition.

    The thinking process behind this mentality is nothing but a few measly orders of magnitude less egregious than the argument that says, “Capital punishment is OK even if a few innocent people get put to death, too.” But, evidently, this hasn’t stopped the crafty lawyers.

    As for shortening the yellow lights so you can raise more revenue, I’m with you, GS650G. What in the (bloody) hell is OK about that?!?!?!?

    People who blindly follow asinine, transparent traffic laws designed to raise not accident survival rates, but fine-derived state revenue, are just another contingent of that vast majority of unthinking automatons that seems to comprise the lion’s share of our world’s human population.

  • avatar
    kken71

    Does anyone know how the speed camera penalty system works in the UK? I took a speeding minicab clear across London a couple of years ago at 4:00 a.m. on my way to the airport, with cameras flashing seemingly every few blocks. The driver said he wasn’t worried about it.

  • avatar

    kken71:

    Does anyone know how the speed camera penalty system works in the UK? I took a speeding minicab clear across London a couple of years ago at 4:00 a.m. on my way to the airport, with cameras flashing seemingly every few blocks. The driver said he wasn’t worried about it.

    I believe they used to use photographic film and lack of money meant most cameras didn’t work or had ran out of film. The flash was meant to be a good enough deterrent that you might get caught, in fact I’ve read of cases where the cameras had to be removed because they were not visible and therefore not a deterrent but a trap.

    With one CCTV camera per 14 head of population, almost continual speed “deterrants” on the motorways and current trials in GPS technology that can catch you speeding anytime, anywhere (even if the govt deny that’s what it’s for), the 21st century UK is starting to make Soviet era Russia look as liberal as a Swedish nudist camp.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    kken71
    Its probably because the car was stolen, not a proper minicab and he had no documentation. Also the camera has to flash twice to get a legal reading to make sure the first wasnt faulty. The single flash helps everyone slow down as they see it go off, if theres 2 you know you’ve got something coming in the mail.

  • avatar
    stormj

    This doesn’t surprise me at all.

    Have you ever tried to bring up the ridiculousness of a one-size-fits-all people, cars, and weather speed limit that no one follows in a polite conversation?

    People act like you’re just a disgruntled scofflaw, when you know damn well that everyone speeds.

    Let’s face it: speeding is only a problem when it’s a problem, and the law makes no effort to discern the difference. Instead, they are happy to selectively (i.e. unconstitutionaly) enforce their stealth tax racket.

    Can you imagine the outrage if people got hit with an extra $100 of property tax for every merely technical victimless violation of building codes, HOA rules, etc., when they were selected at random (or on the basis of their skin color, neighborhood, or color of their house) and their neighbor got off scott free?

    The government doesn’t know how to make the roads safe without destroying the economy. They just know how to make money off of it.

  • avatar
    omnivore

    miked … thanks for the clarification. I guess I don’t remember my high school physics as well as I thought I did. Anyway, we agree. Cars getting safer and more competant doesn’t mean speed limits should be raised (or not enforced) in residential areas. The highways, maybe.

    Of course, none of this safety-related discussion of speed deals with the environmental impacts of speeding. Cars are less efficient the faster they go. In an age of global warming and limited fossil fuel supplies, that’s not an inconsiderable argument.

  • avatar
    stormj

    Omnivore:

    I am sympathetic to your concerns about the environment, but setting a specific speed limit, say 55 as it was, will not necessarily address that correctly across the board.

    In fact, won’t it punish people who already drive fuel efficient cars by putting the burden on them disproportionately?

    In some countries in Europe, people have to hang signs in their car indicating their personal speed limit. Yes, that probably wouldn’t work in the US, but it sure seems to make more sense for a variety of reasons.

  • avatar
    greenb1ood

    Speed limits are developed to the lowest common (driving skills) denominator of society. Meaning that at the posted limits, society’s worst drivers should be able to control their vehicles.

    The problem is that those of us who enjoy driving and take the time to learn how to pilot a vehicle with some skill and effeciency get so bored driving at posted speeds that we are more likely to get in a fender bender due to lack of attention (No scientific data to back this up, just common sense).

    How great would it be if we could apply and test for ever higher levels of licenses based on skill that result in the driver being allowed to drive at higher speeds than the general population?

    While different speed limits on the same road sounds crazy at first, it would be no different than how we treat trucks on the freeway today.

    Any takers?

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Speed cameras are about money, this can not be disputed. Speeding tickets are also about money, this can not be disputed either. Safe speed is a combination of hardware and software and isn’t uniform to all driver’s. Some driver’s are better than others and some cars are more capable of driving faster than others safely.

    How a democratic society like England can tolerate such a big brother intrusion of privacy is beyond me. Try that anywhere in the us away from metropolitan areas and you’ll need to replace a lot of cameras filled with shotgun pellets.

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Here in nyc Bloomberg has proposed a congestion pricing plan based on London’s own congestion pricing. The enforcement of the plan would be made possible by installing lots of cameras everywhere, which would I imagine be used for much more than just congestion pricing. Fortunately I think the plan won’t get passed as New Jersey and the NY transit have both said they are at capacity and can’t handle the extra riders. Still it bothers me that that sort of thing is even being considered. And I generally like Bloomberg, but this feels a bit too fascist for my taste.

  • avatar
    SaturnV

    To follow up on omnivore’s suggestion that a lower speed limit might help fuel efficiency, what do you do about the fact that cars are maximally efficient at different speeds? In my case, one of my cars is most efficient at ~75 mph, and the other at around 60 mph.

    Perhaps the UK can take a hint from some recent Virginia traffic fine legislation and admit that the primary purpose of fines such as this is revenue generation. At least then the debate would be honest…

    -S5

  • avatar
    geeber

    omnivore: Of course, none of this safety-related discussion of speed deals with the environmental impacts of speeding.

    All vehicles within the same regulatory class are limited in the amount of pollutants they can emit, regardless of their speed. A car cannot emit any more pollutants – as defined in the Clean Air Act – whether it travels at 55 mph or 80 mph.

    omnivore: Cars are less efficient the faster they go. In an age of global warming and limited fossil fuel supplies, that’s not an inconsiderable argument.

    The efficiency argument and saving gasoline argument were the main reasons behind the adoption of the 55 mph speed limit in 1974. It still failed miserably, as it was universally ignored.

    And stricter enforcement wouldn’t have worked – as Abraham Lincoln once said, the way to get rid of a bad law is to enforce it strictly.

    On limited access highways, which are used for longer trips, the main focus should be on comfort, convenience and safety. For most of us, 75-80 mph feels right, and we’ll take the lower fuel economy levels that come with those speeds.

  • avatar
    greenb1ood

    omnivore: Cars are less efficient the faster they go. In an age of global warming and limited fossil fuel supplies, that’s not an inconsiderable argument.

    Huh? While it’s true that 80MPH(26-30mpg)is slightly less MPG efficient than 50MPH(31-36mpg), there is such a small difference that it wouldn’t matter much to the grand equation of environmental conservation.

    In reality, my car is least efficient(0-5mpg) when I’m sitting at a traffic light or stop sign, and continuously stopping and going in city traffic, so the environment would be better served by higher speed limits and less stopping. I just wish people understood how to use roundabouts!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    While I don’t favor speed limits based upon conservation (such laws tend to be ineffective), I think that you’ll be hard pressed to find any car that gets better mileage at 75 mph than at a lower speed, such as 55 mph.

    In the EU, highway fuel economy is tested at both 90 km/h (56 mph) and 120 km/h (75 mph). Inevitably, the fuel economy at 75 mph is generally about 20% lower than it would be at the lower speed.

    In real world practice, the differential may often be lower than this, due to various factors such as driver behavior that also impact fuel economy. But a vehicle driven at a steady 55-60 mph should, as a matter of physics, get better fuel economy than the same car driven on the same road at 75 mph. At the higher speed, the energy needed to overcome the resulting wind resistance will inevitably require more energy, irrespective of gearing, etc.

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    Reading police reports for my county, I can clearly say that camera-based speed limit enforcement is a useless idea AT BEST. We haven’t had a single death that can even be remotely attributed to people going too fast. All pedestrian deaths are due to poor visibility (walking across in front of a bus, crossing the street at night in improper location, etc.), and all car deaths are from loosing control in bad weather/being drunk, or from ignoring traffic signs (running a blinking red light seems to be a favorite way to die).

    Never did I hear anything about how to properly cross the road – they should stuff it in childrens’ heads starting in elementary school, but they don’t. Bad weather driving? Nobody cares; there’s a 10-line paragraph in the driver’s handbook. Traffic signals? I can get a 3x heavier fine for happily moving along at 80mph than for running a red light across 6 lanes. At least they’re working on drunk driving. Slowly.

    Nevertheless, the 270 is one big speed trap, and now they brought speed cameras over here, too. Speeding enforcement gets the greatest attention despite being the lowest contributor.

    Worst of all, nobody cares. The majority of the people will speed, but will still vote for the cameras because their neighborhood “has a speeding problem”. Yeah, let’s just blame that other guy next door, and call it good.

  • avatar
    Alex Rashev

    As for conservation, maybe we should up the gas tax, and let the market take care of itself. Oh, wait, all of a sudden, we don’t care about conservation; just let me drive my gas hog and fill up for cheap, and make everyone else pay for it by forcing them to drive slow. Excellent idea.

  • avatar
    miked

    But a vehicle driven at a steady 55-60 mph should, as a matter of physics, get better fuel economy than the same car driven on the same road at 75 mph. At the higher speed, the energy needed to overcome the resulting wind resistance will inevitably require more energy, irrespective of gearing, etc.

    This is in practice probably a true statement for all cars currently on the road. But I can’t give you an example where a car could get better high speed mileage. First, you are right that wind resistance is higher at 75 than at 55 (generally it increases with the square of speed). But you’re assuming that an engine is equally efficient running at a 55 vs 75. Remember that for (throttled) engines, there is a pumping loss when pulling air in. If the engine is small for the car, then you could be running at 75 at full (no) throttle and at 55 under partial throttle which means that the engine itself will be more efficient running at 75. Granted, in the real world the extra air drag usually is worse than the gain of efficiency in the engine, but it’s not a blanket true statement as it is possible to design a car to run most efficiently at a higher speed.

  • avatar
    omnivore

    Cars going faster use more gas. That’s pretty much indisputable. I’m sympathetic to the free-market argument that “if I’m willing to pay for more gas in order to drive faster I should be allowed to.” Unfortunately, fuel efficiency isn’t only about how much we’re paying at the pump, it’s also about how much extra CO2 we’re putting into the atmosphere. Fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions are directly correlated. So, I would argue, there is a real public good in enforcing higher fuel efficiency. And, greenb1ood, I would respectfully disagree with your argument that a 5-10 MPG gain in fuel efficiency is insignificant. If the entire American automobile fleet could instantly realize a 5-10 MPG gain in efficiency, we would see an immediate, significant, and very real impact on our CO2 emissions. We might not see an enormous advantage to our pocketbooks on an individual level, but collectively such a gain would be huge.

    Now, I’m not arguing that speed limits are the best way to increase fuel efficiency and decrease CO2 emissions. There might in fact be more effective ways. But, as driving enthusiasts, we need to come to terms with the fact that this act that we enjoy so much also has some very real collective costs. Until we engage in such an honest accounting, we’re not going to get anywhere.

    Alex Rashev, I think you’re absolutely right. We should jack up the gas tax. Then we can use the extra revenue to (1) subsidize public transit to get rid of the kind of driving where we’re moving 0-5 MPH, which none of us enjoy and which does enormous environmental damage, and (2) subsidize the purchase of efficient vehicles for low-income people to offset the regressive effect of gas taxation. That way those of us who enjoy driving, and who enjoy driving fast, are paying the real costs of their fun.

  • avatar
    Gottleib

    I like the full throttle efficiency argument by miked. I hope that means that a 3/4 throttle is more efficient than 1/2 throttle, because my car would be going over 100mph at full throttle.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    But I can give you an example where a car could get better high speed mileage.

    If you can name a car which generates that sort of performance in a fuel economy test, I’d like to see it. I really have my doubts about this.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Two points:

    First, Around here (CO) the speed cameras take a photo of the car’s front license plate and the driver as well. So, you can certainly walk into court and say it wasn’t you in the picture, but the picture goes into evidence and then it’s up to the finder of fact (the judge or the jury) to determine whether the state has proved its case. I’ve gotten one camera ticket, and it was pretty clearly me, so I’d have been pretty stupid to go into court and say it wasn’t me.

    Of course, this also means that if your car is registered in a state that doesn’t require a front license plate (or if you’re on a motorcycle) you can speed all you want because they won’t even know where to send the camera ticket, it will just get deleted. Honestly, I don’t see how camera tickets would work in a state that doesn’t require front license plates.

    Second: Last time I checked England had a democratically elected parliament that made their laws. Ergo, if the speed cameras were truly unpopular, you would expect there to be a groundswell of people petitioning their legislators to ban the boxes, and/or a push to elect legislators who would promise to do so. In the absence of either of those two factors, I’d have to conclude that the British people must be more or less satisfied with the Gatsos. 28k signatures in a nation of 68 million isn’t that impressive.

  • avatar
    Johnster

    Good point, miked!

    About fuel conservation speed limits, back in the bad old days of the 55 mph national speed limit I always heard that there were certain cars (notably Porsches, Volvos, and Audis) as well as some large diesel semi-trucks that got better gas mileage at speeds higher than 55 supposedly due to how the vehicles’ gearing was set up.

  • avatar
    miked

    If you can name a car which generates that sort of performance in a fuel economy test, I’d like to see it. I really have my doubts about this.

    Here’s an example with a BMW 318. Look at the “Instantaneous Mileage” curve, notice that fuel economy peak around 40MPH. The location of the peak of the curve is due to the competing effects I mentioned in my earlier post. The engine is more efficient at WOT, but the wind drag will catch up at sometime. For the BMW 318 it looks like 40mph is the where wind drag starts to win. Build a more aerodynamic structure and you could pull that break even point up higher.

    http://www.randomuseless.info/318ti/economy.html

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Miked, your plot in the link validates my earlier point, and goes against your assertion. At speeds above approximately 40 mph, the fuel economy is decreasing.

    Fuel economy is related to a number of factors. But the higher the speed, the more that drag becomes the dominant factor. The need to overcome the drag requires more power, which burns more fuel.

    At highway speeds, the majority of fuel consumption comes from drag, and the proportion of that majority increases as your speed increases.

    Build a more aerodynamic structure and you could pull that break even point up higher.

    I doubt that there is a passenger car being built today where that peak speed is 75 mph, or anywhere close to 75 mph. It will vary from car to car, but this is typically going to be somewhere in the area of 40-50 mph.

    I know that we all want to drive faster (well, I do, anyway), but physics isn’t going to offer the justification. It is true that 45 mph can be more efficient than 25 mph, because drag plays a lesser role at lower speeds, but at speeds that are typical on modern limited access highways, the need to generate more power (and burn more fuel) to overcome drag is the primary culprit.

  • avatar
    philbailey

    I am truly ashamed of my countrymen for not having more backbone.

    But I suppose law abiding citizens are an advantage, when hand guns are not necessary to everyday survival.

    Be warned however, if you go touring in Europe, or take delivery of a car and you run through a speed camera, or invoke a congestion charge, it WILL show up on your credit card, long after you’ve arrived back home.

    And they’re not using film anymore, just 10 gig flash memories, which can go on and on and on………

  • avatar
    James2

    Everyone here should join the National Motorists Association. I have. http://www.motorists.org

    NMA can’t save England (which probably lost all relevance after Churchill) but they fight the good fight here in America. NMA helps in the cause against cameras and stupid legislation and tries to educate our lawmakers.

    And then, when you’re ticketed for speeding, the NMA has resources available to help you contest the citation.

    Join. Now. http://www.motorists.org

  • avatar
    chris2

    Sort of related, and definitely worth reading to see just how brutal speed limit enforcement is getting in the states…I don’t know how the citizens of Virginia have allowed this:

    Virginia Introduces $3550 Speeding Ticket
    Virginia legislator introduces new speeding ticket tax that boosts penalties beyond $3550, driving business to his traffic law firm.
    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/18/1818.asp

  • avatar

    Ever hear of a “sparkler bomb?” You tie a humongous bunch of sparklers together with a wire coathanger, stick one or two or four out crossways for fuses, light them and run. Now, I’ve never done this, but I figure that sustained 550+ degree fire would burn through the top of one of these monstrosities quiet well…

    not that I’m advocating such an action. I hate speeding cameras and I’ve never been caught by one (yet). I know if they get them around here, or red-light cameras for that matter, I will slam on my brakes, make someone smash into me from behind, get a new car, AND sue the city for reducing yellow light times etc.

  • avatar
    chris2

    way ahead of ya, SexCpotatoes:

    http://www.speedcam.co.uk/gatso2.htm

  • avatar
    Luther

    “Try that anywhere in the us away from metropolitan areas and you’ll need to replace a lot of cameras filled with shotgun pellets.”

    When I was living in Germany, the permanant cameras around many of the American Military Bases where, um, heavily modified. A can of spray paint works wonders as well as heavy explosives.

    Gordon Brown has a solution to the camera controversy. He will tax the Brits until they are unable to afford to drive in a kind of Stalin/Saddam “Where there is a person, there is a problem. Where there is no person, there is no problem” way.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/raskin/raskin17.html

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    # greenb1ood:
    June 28th, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    “Speed limits are developed to the lowest common (driving skills) denominator of society. Meaning that at the posted limits, society’s worst drivers should be able to control their vehicles.”

    In that case we need to lower the speed limits.

    “The problem is that those of us who enjoy driving and take the time to learn how to pilot a vehicle with some skill and effeciency get so bored driving at posted speeds that we are more likely to get in a fender bender due to lack of attention (No scientific data to back this up, just common sense).”

    Agreed. Most areas are too congested for enthusiast driving. I look forward to self-driving cars. Reading a car mag would be more fun than actually drivng – most of the time.

    “How great would it be if we could apply and test for ever higher levels of licenses based on skill that result in the driver being allowed to drive at higher speeds than the general population?”

    Fine as long as the highly skilled understand that there will be slower traffic on the roads, and the skilled will sometimes have to slow down because of this. Presumably skilled drivers know this – but it appears there are very few skilled drivers out there.

    “While different speed limits on the same road sounds crazy at first, it would be no different than how we treat trucks on the freeway today.”

    True but it’s a bit harder to sort out the cars from each other than to sort the cars from the 18 wheelers.

    Who’s the bigger danger – the guy rated for 70 doing 78, or the guy rated for 90 doing 98?

    With people going 90, or 110 many of the 70mph drivers might feel there is no reason for them not to go at higher speeds.

    “Any takers?”

    In theory, yes. In practice, I don’t see speed limits as a bad idea in general, though one could argue that on some roads, the limits could be raised. I don’t really see what is wrong with expecting people to obey the law.

  • avatar
    crazybob

    zenith:
    Never thought I’d find someone else from that area posting here! Council Bluffs doesn’t have speed cameras, just red light cameras. In all honesty, as much as I despise the concept of speed cameras, I really don’t mind the idea of red light cameras. After all, unlike speeding, running a red light is inherently dangerous to both yourself and others. Of course, Council Bluffs has the shortest yellow lights of any place I’ve ever been, and thanks to that I’m not a big fan of our cameras in practice.

  • avatar
    salokj

    Aw Hell,
    The ECHR found against the appellants (speed cameras stay).
    GRAND CHAMBER JUDGMENT O’HALLORAN AND FRANCIS v. THE UNITED KINGDOM

    Well, here’s to hoping that something will happen.
    Here is France it’s disgusting how it works. (I don’t know exactly how it works in the UK, and if it’s different) If you want to contest a decision, you have to pay the government in advance. If (hahahaha!!) they find in your favor they reimburse your money…

  • avatar
    jurisb

    UK is desperate of earning money in the easiest possible way, as their manufacturing base is withering faster than gm cash burnout, their governmental needs are always satisfied by means ( what a coincidence!) of taxpayers money. even when you drive into downtown of london and there is a sign saying` no parking allowed` and when you pull over for a nanosecond to read what does it say in gnome letters underneath, there is already a guy with a Canon bombarding you right on the ` crime scene`. so you have to pay a hefty fine even when you just wanted to read the rules to whom this sign applies. desperate. desperate to privatize all the streets and yards possible and then make pay parking lots. goes all around the world. have you also noticed that they put these signs near resorts or sea beaches where roads are wider than in dubai, yet you can`t park there. whenever they care of our security on the roads, it always deals with emptying our pockets. roads become better, cars faster, more silent and agile, yet you have to drive the same speed as those ford t mobiles.Sure we have got a lot of traffic…….

  • avatar

    Paul Smith, founder of SafeSpeed.org.uk, said: "It's a tragedy for justice and a tragedy for road safety. Scrapping speed cameras is absolutely inevitable -because they don't make our roads safer – but we'll have to keep up the hard work and wait a little longer." Idris Francis, (appellant), said: "Today is a black day, not just for British or European drivers but for free people around the world, where the right tosilence will be breached not only in motoring law but increasingly in otherareas of criminal law." "By their perverse verdict today, the judges of the ECHR have sent a crude message to law-makers – that the use of threats to secure confessions, and convictions based on those confessions, is acceptable." "It has been unacceptable in Britain for more than 400 years, and at present emains the case for every type of criminal offence other than modest driving offences – but how long will it be before politicians and judges, having breached this vital principle, start extending it to other offences? What price innocence until proven guilty now, or the necessity for the State to prove it's case beyond reasonable doubt? Why should the police bother to investigate crimes when they can obtain confessions by the use of threats? How many more will confess to crimes they have not committed, because the penalties for not confessing are even worse than for the crime?" "This defeat is a serious blow, but make no mistake – it was only one battle inthe war for freedom and the defeat of tyranny. Our fundamental rights have for some years been under greater threat than ever before, and the fight must go on to defeat and remove from office those who would take away our fundamentalfreedoms in exchange for supposed protection and security they can neverdeliver. Depend upon it – this fight is not over, it has only just begun." "The on-going tragedy of speed camera policy will now roll on, gathering more victims as it goes – despite the now overwhelming evidence that cameras cause far more problems than they solve."

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Well something needs to be done about the rampant disregard for rules of the road in California. Last night at 10 PM I was blown by on the freeway in still moderately heavy traffic by two Dodge Vipers and three motorcycles which appeared to be using the still crowded freeway for a personal race. I’m sure the drivers were enjoying an adrenaline high, but I don’t appreciate having my life put at risk for their fun.

    Excessive speed and aggressive driving are a daily menace in our area. Yes cars are getting better, but in general the condition of US roads is getting worse and the traffic densities are going up. I must be one of the only car lovers who also would love to see ramped up traffic law enforcement.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Wow! Looks like the British/EU police will have to drive SUVs to tote their Waterboarding equipment, SWAT gear, and automatic weapons now. The Brussels Sociopaths are getting blood-thirsty.

    Time to move to Dubai? Maybe Australia?

  • avatar
    hal

    Luther its UK domestic policy nothing to do with the EU.
    All you have to do is drive 175mph to beat the cameras so whats the problem anyway?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOx8A-TzHoQ

    The key sentence from the ruling is:
    [The Court] noted that anyone who chose to own or drive a car knew that they subjected themselves to a regulatory regime, imposed because the possession and use of cars was recognised to have the potential to cause grave injury. Those who choose to keep and drive cars could be taken to have accepted certain responsibilities and obligations as part of the regulatory regime relating to motor vehicles, and in the legal framework of the United Kingdom, those responsibilities included the obligation, in the event of suspected commission of road traffic offences, to inform the authorities of the identity of the driver on that occasion.

  • avatar
    noley

    A few thoughts.

    The UK may be democratic, but the citizenry are much more willing to go along with what their government mandates (being told what to do and how to behave) than Americans. That’s why you aren’t seeing a huge groundswell of anti-speedcam mail reaching the offices of the members of Parliament. Remember, being ruled is in the British DNA. Here in the US we are (at best!) governed. There’s a big difference.

    Safe speed is also a function of driver behavior. In France a year or so back my family and I were running at 160 kph (limit was 130). I was in the middle lane as people were still passing me. My kids are asleep in back. My wife snoozing in the right seat. She woke up, looked at the speedo and said we were making good time. This is the same woman who tells me to slow down when I go over 75 or 80 here in the States.

    She said, “People drive better in Europe. They don’t weave around as much and stay in their lanes. And everyone is running 90 to 100 (mph). I feel safer here at 100 mph than in the States at 75 or 80.”

  • avatar
    fallout11

    Six US State Supreme Courts (Arkansas, Nevada, New Jersey, Utah, West Virginia, and most recently North Carolina) have ruled that the use of traffic cameras are unconstitutional, as you must identify and incriminate yourself, you are considered guilty until proven innocent, and you cannot face your accuser and/or witnesses (the camera) in court. Further, they found that since in most cases, the company or municipality operating the cameras had a vested economic interest in the outcome of the production of evidence leading to citations and convictions, all evidence supplied was suspect and there was the appearance of bias and impropriety.

  • avatar
    gakoenig

    My intention here is not to break the TTAC TOS by flaming Mr Farago, but why are TTAC pages going down the path of “the UK’s anti-speeding jihad?”

    Our little hobby of fast cars has this intrinsic disconnect with social order – we sit here and analyze, debate and wax poetically about how modern cars handle, hoon and hammer down, but when auto journalists or Hero Cam YouTube-rs show off the same characteristics we talk about continually on a public road, we begin speaking about criminal indictments?

    We could continue the congnitive dissodance of saying that people buy Ferraris, Porsches, Black Edition Mercs, BMW Ms and Audi RSs (…etc) so that they can go to track days but who are we kidding? Real track day addicts can go out and spend a fraction of the cost of one of the latest-n-greatest road rockets and buy a Radical, Arial, Forumla car or previous gen exotic with the streety bits ripped out. All the track action + more safety + higher performance + no risking the $$$ grocery getter = better idea then tracking your $70K E90 M3 daily driver.

    Hooning through traffic is one thing where I think the vast majority of us will agree is probably a bad idea (even though I am assuming we’ve all done it when we were young and dumb). Driving a fast car fast on empty, lifeless, public roads where – beyond a shadow of a doubt – the only lives at risk are those of willing participants… where exactly is the problem?

    I don’t know when it happened, but we have conflated the idea of justice with dogmatic, rigid adherence to codified law. They are two very different things. Speed laws are intended to keep roads safe for travel by the entire community. When that community is at zero risk, I don’t see the need to crucify folks for breaking codified laws.

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