By on January 26, 2010

The UK Sustainable Development Commission yesterday released a report recommending the use of average speed cameras for round-the-clock tracking of motorist journeys nationwide. The government advisory body said that widespread deployment of average speed cameras was required to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide by automobiles, a factor that some believe is linked to global changes in temperature. The report made a number of recommendations affecting the driving public.

“The business models associated with private motoring are not aligned with sustainability,” the report explained.

The commission suggested that the government take immediate action to encourage the use of mass transit and discourage automobile use in general. Speed cameras were seen as an easy method of accomplishing this goal.

“Enforcing the speed limit has also been shown to be a very cost-effective way of reducing CO2 emissions from road transport with estimates of a reduction of 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide simply by enforcing the 70 MPH speed limit,” the report claimed. “In 2009 the Home Office approved average speed cameras to enforce speed limits in urban areas. Cameras are networked together and can be placed at entry and exit points to an area with a fixed speed limit, for example 20 or 30 MPH.”

The report also called for a “clear timetable” for the introduction of Intelligent Speed Adaptation technology that would use global positioning satellites to take away control of vehicle speed from the driver, making it impossible for a car to exceed the limit on a given road. The same information communications technology (ICT) infrastructure could be used for congestion pricing, tolling of every journey and charging for insurance by the number of miles driven. The commission explained that such systems would require a substantial and ongoing financial investment.

“ICT does tend to need higher revenue funding to maintain and upgrade systems once in place,” the report conceded. “Systems will have continuous running costs and may need regular software updates. Computer hardware can have a working lifetime of as little as five to ten years.”

Motoring advocates responded that imposing average speed cameras, often known as SPEC cameras, would reduce safety.

“SPEC systems do nothing for good drivers, making them become zombie-like,” Safe Speed co-founder Claire Armstrong said. “Their visual search patterns are altered and compromised, drivers say it is like driving in a fog. They tailgate and stop paying attention, traffic bunches, and drivers become mentally tried, having to spend a disproportionate amount of time concentrating on their speed.”

The Association of British Drivers pointed out that much of the climate change rationale that underpins works like that of the Sustainability Commission are based on discredited claims by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“The evidence is now overwhelming that the UN IPCC reports have tried to scare governments into submission with doomsday scenarios — perhaps to distract them from the poor quality of the ‘evidence’ supporting their assertion that mankind’s CO2 emissions really do drive the climate,” ABD Environment spokesman Paul Biggs said. “This is an exercise in global warming alarmism aimed at underpinning ‘green’ taxes and restrictions on the general public, with a disproportionate focus on drivers.”

As evidence, ABD pointed to three recent scandals. In the first, leaked emails from respected climate scientists described how charts were manipulated to “hide the decline” in global temperatures in IPCC reports. ABD then pointed to an IPCC report author’s recent admission that the claim that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 was false. Finally, the group showed how the IPCC linked the issue of climate change to the severity of disasters such as hurricanes and floods without proper scientific scrutiny.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

27 Comments on “UK Climate Change Activists Push for Average Speed Cameras...”

  • avatar

    These guys really need to go have some fun…preferably behind the wheel of a car.

  • avatar

    I hate to see the proud British people headed down this socialist path. Just let ’em drive, for heavens sake! Increasingly the “climate change by people” “settled science” is being shown to be a fraud that scammers like AlGore have made millions from.

  • avatar

    Wow. Newsflash! This has nothing to do with climate.

  • avatar

    The British are “subjects” we in the hated USA are citizens. See how that works. Sorry this thread is probably going to get nasty, as these usually do, but this points out one of the reasons I’m glad that this former colony is not part of the Commonwealth, but separated itself by force. I just hope that the Constitution will win against such schemes in our courts. 1984 was a while back, but it just took a little more time.

  • avatar

    The irony is, that in the UK, the civil servants whose job it is to implement transport policy often don’t (or can’t) drive themselves. This means that schemes such as these average speed cameras get put in place without very much reasoned argument or opposition. The government delegates responsibility for these decisions to QuANGOs who base their decisions on flawed advice from selected interest groups. This absolves the government from taking any of the blame when things (inevitably) go wrong.

    Case in point: I was talking to a taxi driver this afternoon who told me about a fare he was taking along a motorway with a bus-lane. The passenger proudly asked the driver what he though about the bus-lane, to which the driver replied that if he found out whose idea it had been he would like to run them over due to the traffic chaos the scheme had caused. The passenger sheepishly admitted that it was his office that had implemented the scheme and that few of the people in the office even had driving licences.

    The UK government has a bizarre and dangerous fixation with transgression taxing because it boosts public-sector employment by creating state sector non-jobs to police parking restrictions, CCTV and traffic cameras etc. Easier to do this than to let private sector workers get to their jobs quickly, cheaply and easily.

  • avatar
    Bruce from DC

    This elapsed time over distance thing is something that I worry about here in the U.S., for certain toll roads. For instance, the New Jersey Turnpike uses a computer-readable card that drivers collect when they enter the ‘pike. When they exit, they shove the card into a reader, which calculates the toll, based on the amount of distance they covered. It would be a simple matter to also calculate the driver’s average speed over the distance and alert a waiting police cruiser that the vehicle had averaged a higher speed than the limit over the distance covered.

    More alarmingly, the EZPass RFID system that allows you to drive through toll gates on many toll roads and have the toll amount automatically debited from the account has the same capabilities and more — since it already has information about your vehicle, the vehicle owner, the owner’s address and so on and captures your unique vehicle identifier every time the device is read. It would be a simple software change to include an average speed over distance covered calculation and debit your account for a speeding violation.

    Aside from the green madness that afflicts western Europe, here in the U.S. there needs to be an end put to using traffic citations as a revenue-raising device. So, the partnerships between governmental authorities and the makers/installers of speed and red-light cameras which give both parties an incentive to maximize revenue from issuing citations need to be prohibited. As we now know from experience, it is entirely possible to “rig” these devices (by, for example, having a short yellow) to maximize revenue. And think about how many speed traps you see on the uphill side of hills vs. the downhill side. At least more recent cruise control operations appear to be on to that. In the prior vehicles I have owned (Toyota Previa, Ford SHO, BMW Z3, Saab 9-5, the cruise control would do no more to slow the vehicle than close the throttle but leave the engine in top gear (for the autobox vehicles). So, in the mountains, you were required to apply to brakes on steep downhills to avoid exceeding your preset speed. I have noticed that the cruise control on my ’08 Honda Pilot will actually shift to a lower gear and use increased engine braking to maintain the preset speed.

    Just what you need to make time in the brave new world of electronic speed monitoring. :-(

    • 0 avatar

      “This elapsed time over distance thing is something that I worry about here in the U.S., for certain toll roads.”

      The Kansas Turnpike, between Wichita and Topeka, had this 40 years ago. Your time of entry and exit were stamped on the ticket. If the toll collector noticed that the elapsed time was too short, you paid your fine then and there.

      The faculty adviser to the car club, at the college in Kansas where I was a student, drove a Mercedes gull wing coupe. During one trip on the Turnpike, he took an hour lunch break so that he would appear to be (barely) legal.

  • avatar

    Can’t we just plant more Carbon Dioxide lovin’ trees to counteract the extra CO that is in the atmosphere? Forget all the bird killin’ wind farms, plant forests of trees across the Great Plains and and Texas. Too simple?

  • avatar

    This is the phrase I find the most funny: “Enforcing the speed limit has also been shown to be a very cost-effective way of reducing CO2 emissions from road transport with estimates of a reduction of 1.4 million tons of carbon dioxide simply by enforcing the 70 MPH speed limit.” So, let me get this straight — the most emissions come from a steady state speed where the ICE is at its most efficient, but the stop and go congestion does not create more emissions. This just goes to show the UK Sustainable Development Commission has no engineers on staff. But then again, we are really talking about taxes here, not real emission issues.

  • avatar

    @Jimal what do you have against wind turbines? It is easy to site them so they kill few birds. Tall buildings kill far more birds. Trees–very important, but not going to do anywhere near the whole job.

    I’m all for reducing CO2, but — well, what racebeer said. Too many people who want to tell other people how to use their carbon. If they want you to use less they should just raise the price of it and let people decide where they are going to conserve fossil fuels.

    • 0 avatar


      I can’t speak for Jimal, but my concern with wind turbines is economic. They are to date heavily subsidized – our local utility has been coerced (that is the correct word, too) into buying power from a planned windfarm at something like $0.25 per kw-hr. People generally don’t understand that they have to be maintained, that they wear out and will need to be replaced – in short, that they aren’t exempt from every ill of every other type of power supply. Further, unless you can distribute them widely with a smart grid to wheel power where needed, you have to heavily discount them based on reliability of wind. I think the figure is delivered power divided by 10. Can’t have that as baseline. OK, lets add pumped storage or chemical battery storage – then that’s less economically attractive. I think we should continue working on them, but they aren’t a panacea as constituted now or the near future.

    • 0 avatar

      Another aspect of the wind turbines as a shell game.

    • 0 avatar

      David, I was being a bit cheeky about the wind turbines… I do think we should plant more trees however.

  • avatar

    Yet another reason why I left the UK and do not intend to return.
    If you are a freedom loving individual who works hard, earns good money and gains an education and thinks FREELY – ie, doesn’t soak up the nonsensical drivel that pours out of every government department and the majority of the socialist mainstream media (including the BBC) – you are NOT welcome in Britain.
    I agree entirely with the comments about the average speed camera’s – I hate driving on the sections of road controlled by them as 50% of the time you aren’t concentrating on the road, you’re concentrating on your speedo. But hey, no point in whining about it, the UK public will yet again do nothing about it and vote in more socialist/environmentalist nutters who will turn the country into a real life 1984.

  • avatar

    There still seems to be a general unawareness on the part of the public that
    1. Most of the “science” behind “anthropogenic global warming” lacks authenticity, to say the least.
    2. Carbon dioxide is a minor contributor to the greenhouse effect.
    3. Carbon dioxide generated by human activities is a minor part of total carbon dioxide.
    4. Money and effort spent to reduce generation of carbon dioxide is thus wasted.

  • avatar

    I’m really disapointed that the advocacy group felt it necessary to drag the global warning argument into their, completely unrelated, safety objections to these cameras. Seriously, whatever your take on the subject, you have to realize that taking a stand on this issue ensures that anyone with an opposing view is going to consider you an idiot right out of the gates, regardless of your other points. Amateurs…

    The real blunder in evoking the global warming argument is it puts the motorist group in direct opposition to the entire purpose of the panel, and not just this specific proposal. This limits their ability to put forward other, similarly effective, proposals to address the same problem (minus the unpopular hard sell of additional ticketing or surveilance). Basically, they have to make the other side sell the intrusion, and not invite them to use their overall mission as a stand in for argument on it.

  • avatar

    With the shining exception of the Margaret Thatcher years, this is what sixty years of Big Nanny socialist government have produced. A thousand small cuts, each imposing more silly rules and regulations, and diminishing the liberty of a once proud people.

  • avatar

    Man-made global warming is bunk.

    Even if it isn’t, you’ll notice that every solution to this “problem” involves more government regulation, control, and taxation over the producers of the world.

    These “speeders” are travelling to their jobs, rather than holding pickets decrying the end of the world.

  • avatar

    If I ever move back to London, I’m taking a Hummer H1 just to piss them off.

  • avatar

    Trying to claim the IPCC report is discredited is stupid. It’s like looking out the window and saying “The sky is red”, when clearly when you look, it’s blue. Just because you disagree, doesn’t make it so.

    There are issues with some of the data, data that is not in keeping with scientific methods. The data sets best fitted by the naughty UK team is not publicly available. That is strikes 1, 2 and 3 in my book – the IPCC should not have included their data because the raw data is not available to other scientists to ensure that the data is what the team says it was (peer review). There is plenty of other data that has no restrictions that proves exactly the same thing as the UK team’s data.

    Why you should care:

    The first IPCC report was woefully conservative and most of its long term predictions for 2020 and beyond have *already* come to pass. The 2007 report is also woefully conservative as they didn’t include some of the more recent data sets showing massive acceleration in warming. We are “beating” the worst case predictions already, which means we’re in deep shit as we’re in uncharted territory.

    Even if AGW is not proven as is claimed by deniers, the facts regarding a steady and increasing rise in temperature and temperature variance everywhere (facts YOU can download from most weather sites or even check in your own backyard with a thermometer if you don’t trust trained scientists), coupled with all the other changes that are happening much faster than they traditionally do, the debate is no longer about whether we do nothing, but what will we do to curb *our* side of things just in case?

    Honestly, speed cameras are not the answer.

    Working from home for everyone who can is. If you don’t have to take a trip at all, that is a massive saving in your CO2 footprint. Working on the edges of fractions of a percent in CO2 levels by targeting speeding is not going to help at all if ~100% of the workforce has to travel. If 50% have to travel, that’s an immediate 50% cut in emissions straight away, and the roads will free up making traffic jams much less of a problem, improving air quality and CO2 emissions.

    But transport is only a fraction of CO2 emissions:

    Heavy industry needs to work on low CO2 emissions to produce stuff, but the easiest way to fix many of them is to move to solar, nuclear, geothermal and wind power sources. We need to do this for transport anyway.

    Computer rooms should be more like Google’s – passively air cooled. Running a computer room in a hot country is just stupid.

    We need to stop using so much concrete. It produces a lot of CO2 during production. It’s by far the worst building material out there.

    We need to eliminate long distance trucking, and return freight to rail and shipping. Trucks are woefully inefficient compared to either of them. Trucks should be reserved for places trains don’t go.

    Large container ships should migrate to nuclear powered engines. And arm them to the teeth so the pirates don’t get lucky. One day the oil will run out, so this will have to happen sooner or later. May as well be now rather than when it’s too late.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Most cars operate most efficiently at a speed of 42 to 60 mph, depending on the particular model. SO these average speed cameras would tend to INCREASE CO2 emissions if used in areas below 42 mph, probably (it isn’t quite that easy to work out).

  • avatar

    Folks, will you PLEASE look up the definition of “Socialist” before you hang that tired tag on every possible Goverment stupidity. Greed, power, and ego trips do not equal Socialism.

    But I will say, every time I read about the ever more ridiculous things that the UK Government imposes on it’s “subjects”, the more convinced I am that the only UK residents with any spine left a couple hundred years ago. But considering the locals elect thier government, I guess they are getting what they want.

    Good God, any law implementing average speed fineing would get voted out (via people’s referendum) in Maine so fast it would set a land speed record. Note that we used that procedure to tell the FEDS to F’off when they mandated emissions testing here 20 years ago! Though that process is certainly a double-edged sword, as it has also been used to kill some good things over the years too. Still, nothing like a direct method of overturning just about anything to keep the lawmakers in check.

  • avatar

    First off, New Labour were not by any measure a Socialist Government. They were firmly rooted in the NeoLiberal political camp (‘liberal’ in this case referring to economic rather than social liberalism – Google ‘Milton Friedman’ to gain a glimpse into how their minds worked).

    Secondly, the SDC was simply a bunch of loosely affiliated single-issue loonys (Google Jonathan Porrit if you dare…) who managed to grab some degree of Government backing by reliably recommending solutions that involved drivers paying increased costs (to the Government, of course) for the ‘privelege’ of driving.

    Thirdly, the new Con/Dem Government seems to have dealt with them in a fairly rational way – their website now reads “As of 31 March 2011 we have ceased operations”. I for one remain dry-eyed.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Lou_BC: @redapple – interesting. “An acre of mature trees can capture 2.6 tonnes of CO2 per year.”...
  • dal20402: OK, that’s a new one, but taking it at face value… (1) If it is actually possible to engineer a major...
  • dal20402: My state imposes a registration surcharge for EVs that is quite a bit more than the gas tax savings I...
  • j lu: “Though your author would argue that there’s nothing luxurious about nixing built-to-order...
  • RHD: When you have solar panels, charging is basically free.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber