England & Scotland Speed Camera News

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News Article Index
“The UK government got cold feet with their dangerous speed camera programme, put on the brakes and saved some lives”
Read Full Story..
Motorway Cameras Road smashes doubled on a mile-long stretch of London motorway AFTER a speed camera went up.
Read Full Story
By Nigel Nelson And David Brown (July 31 2005)
UK Wales – The Department of Transport is to commission research to determine whether speed cameras cause as many accidents as they prevent.
Read Full Story..
Fresh Doubts Over Speed Camera Value – Official papers show that the number of crashes rose instead of fell at 70 sites in London.
Read Full Story..
Speed Cameras’ Effect on Crashes are ‘Exaggerated’

University of Liverpool research team claimsRead Full Story..

Scotland Roads No Safer After Five Years of Speed Cameras
Source: Key 2004 Road Accident Statistics (Scottish Executive, 6/15/2005)
Read Full Story..

The organisers of an anti-speed camera demonstration which saw hundreds of vehicles driving slowly along the M4 have hailed the protest a success. More info..

Protesters meet up before taking part in a 'go-slow' protest on the M4
Protesters met at two service stations before the protest began


The report into cameras was due in June but has been delayed

No new speed cameras will be installed for several months, as the government awaits a review of their effectiveness.
More info..


So naturally they’ve now put TWO more on same 1M stretch

By Nigel Nelson And David Brown (July 31 2005)

ROAD smashes doubled on a mile-long stretch of motorway AFTER a speed camera went up.

And now traffic chiefs have sparked fury by installing two MORE of the hated yellow traps in the same place.

There were only 10 accidents on the East London bend of the M11 in the three years before the first speedcam was installed in 2001.

Only five had anything to do with speed and only two people were severely injured.

But in the following three years – after a 50mph limit was introduced along with the trap – there were EIGHTEEN crashes, new figures reveal.

Eleven were linked with speed and FIVE people were severely hurt, the Transport Department disclosed.

Angry campaigners claim accidents on the stretch of road near the end of the motorway soared because drivers brake sharply when they spot the speedcam .

Motorist Pauline Caley, 42, said: “The speedcams make things more dangerous, not safer. You have to slow down really quickly from 70mph to 40mph and motorists slam on their brakes at the last moment.”

Campaigners believe the statistics are yet more proof the devices are there to raise money for the Government rather than save lives. The first camera – which snares up to 2,000 drivers a day – notches up a staggering £840,000 a week in fines. And a big slice of that goes straight to the Treasury.

Local Tory MP Lee Scott said: “If the original camera isn’t reducing speed-related accidents, why is it there?”

The Highways Agency said the new cameras enforce a 40mph limit to make it safer for work on new road lights.


No New Speed Cameras Until Report

The Department for Transport said no applications for sites would be granted until the completion of an independent review by University College London.

A spokeswoman said it was important to get things right. “We are not blocking the use of new cameras,” she said.

But road safety group Brake expressed concern that suspending decisions on camera applications “could cost lives”.

Meanwhile, road safety group Safe Speed highlighted figures it claimed showed fewer cameras meant fewer deaths.

“The government got cold feet with their dangerous speed camera programme, put on the brakes and saved some lives”


Paul Smith
Safe Speed

The Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “Every year, those in the camera partnership scheme submit applications to us for new camera sites.

“This year we are waiting for this independent review to be completed before approving any new sites. 


Brake said the University College London (UCL) review was nothing new.

” …previous reports have shown speed cameras to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 40% where they are placed” 

Road safety group 

“UCL carries out a review of the effectiveness of speed cameras on an annual basis and previous reports have shown speed cameras to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 40% where they are placed.

“There is no reason to suspect that this year’s review will conclude anything different,” it said in a statement.

The group added that it welcomed any research into speed cameras and was calling for the restrictions on their placement to be relaxed.

Road Deaths

Meanwhile, Safe Speed said Department for Transport figures showed the growth in fixed and mobile speed camera sites grew by under 1% for 2003 to 2004, compared to 33% between 2002 and 2003.

Founder Paul Smith said that was the “true reason” road deaths fell last year.

“The government got cold feet with their dangerous speed camera programme, put on the brakes and saved some lives.

“Speed cameras are a dangerous distraction to drivers, police and local authorities alike. In almost every case there’s something else that’s more important to road safety than strict speed limit compliance.”


Speed Camera U-turn as 500 Sites Rejected

July 15, 2005

By Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent

THE Government is blocking the installation of nearly 500 new speed cameras amid signs that ministers are beginning to doubt the effectiveness of the devices.

The 38 camera partnerships, which include police forces and local authorities, have been ordered not to use cameras at any new sites. The ban includes places where there have been several fatal crashes caused by speeding vehicles.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) condemned the ban, saying that it could cost lives because dangerous roads were being left unprotected by cameras.

The Department for Transport is reviewing the rules on deploying cameras after concerns that partnerships have failed to consider alternatives, such as improving junctions or erecting warning signs.

The review is being overseen by Stephen Ladyman, the new Road Safety Minister, who has been caught three times by speed cameras and at one stage had nine points on his licence, one offence away from a six-month ban. More than two million drivers received speed camera fines last year, a tenfold increase in less than a decade.

In a letter sent to the partnerships this week, the department said that it had decided not to approve any more sites until it received a report on the peformance of existing sites. It ordered partnerships to revise their budgets because they would receive less revenue than expected from fines. Under the scheme introduced five years ago, partnerships are allowed to keep a proportion of camera fines to pay for more cameras.

The scheme has prompted claims that partnership staff may favour cameras over other solutions because they need to ensure a steady flow of income to pay their salaries. The department is understood to be concerned that it may have exaggerated the benefits of cameras by failing to allow for the random nature of crashes.

Partnership managers accused the department of failing to give an adequate explanation for the ban. One told The Times: “We submitted our operational case in November but the department has been dragging its feet for eight months. They are clearly rethinking their policy but they haven’t got the honesty to say so.”

Ian Bell, Acpo’s speed camera liaison officer, said: “I am concerned that any delay in installing cameras where they are most needed increases the risk of speed-related crashes.

“All the sites submitted for approval to the department meet the existing criteria so it is difficult to understand why they have not been approved.”

There must have been at least four crashes involving death or serious injury per kilometre in the previous three years before a fixed camera can be installed, or two crashes for a mobile camera.

Three people died recently in two collisions on a road in Cheshire which had already had enough crashes to qualify for a camera. Lee Murphy, manager of the Cheshire partnership, said that the deaths had happened in May, six months after he had applied to the department for permission to begin mobile camera enforcement. “We were still waiting for a response when the accidents happened. We have now decided to use cameras there anyway because we just can’t wait any longer.”

Forces can deploy cameras wherever they choose for up to 15 per cent of the total time that they spend enforcing speed limits.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, which supports speed cameras, admitted yesterday that some may not be justified. Rob Gifford, the council’s director, said: “In some cases a partnership may have chosen to install a camera when an engineering solution may have been better.

“But we still believe the department should have the courage of its convictions. Cameras have been proven to work, and people may die if there is a delay in enforcing a site.”

Mr Gifford said the doubling of camera sites to about 6,000 in the past five years had helped to reduce speeding. Since 2000 the proportion of vehicles exceeding the limit in 30mph zones has fallen from 66 per cent to 53 per cent.

Paul Smith, of the anti-camera campaign Safe Speed, said: “I’m delighted that the department appears to be realising that it has used bogus statistics to justify more cameras.”


ABD Research Undermines M4 Speed Cameras

New research from the Association of British Drivers (ABD) has damned the M4 speed cameras as “a massive mistake”. The Association was also charged £111 for access to vital information about the causes of crashes which, it believes, should have been made public.

In data provided by Wiltshire Constabulary, driver inattention topped the list of accident causes, followed by poor lane changing and careless/reckless behaviour. In fact, not one single accident had excess speed as the sole cause.

But included in the crashes that allowed the Partnership to use speed cameras were:

an accident where a pedestrian fell from a bridge

an accident where a gust of wind pushed one lorry into another

several tyre blowout accidents

a crash where a car drove the wrong way up the motorway

“Excess speed” came fifth on a list of accident causes along with driver fatigue. “Excess speed includes accidents where vehicles were travelling within the speed limit but too fast for the conditions – e.g. fog – where cameras could have no effect.

Mark McArthur-Christie, the ABD’s Road Safety Spokesman, said “These statistics show clearly that speed is far from the most significant factor in crashes – but no matter what the causes, the Partnership still thinks cameras are the solution. These figures show that cameras on the M4 will do absolutely nothing for road safety. They should be withdrawn immediately.”

In investigating the causes of M4 crashes, the ABD found that hard data was next to impossible to acquire. The camera Partnership even initially denied that they held data on the causes of crashes. After requesting information from a range of departments and organisations, a request under the Freedom of Information Act was also turned down. The ABD was finally forced to pay £111 to Wiltshire Constabulary for the data.

McArthur-Christie continued, “This data – now we’ve forced it into the public domain – raises very serious questions about the use of speed cameras on the M4. It also raises questions about why the data has not been made public before.”

Brian Gregory, the ABD’s Chairman, said “This work shows clearly that we need to get away from the whole “the answer’s a speed camera, now what’s the question?” approach to road safety. We also want to see them forced to publish the causes of crashes they use to justify cameras.”


Speed cameras: are they more trouble than they’re worth?

Jun 15 2005

The Department of Transport is to commission research to determine whether speed cameras cause as many accidents as they prevent.

Officials have written to universities and research institutes in Wales and England inviting bids for a two-year study, starting in September.

Road safety experts welcomed the news but warned against the study being used for a blanket roll-out of speed cameras.

The probe was prompted by the latest figures which show road deaths fell at 100 camera sites but rose at 77 others.

It comes amid growing warnings from safety experts that at Britain’s 6,000 cameras, drivers may simply slow down on approach and put their foot down afterwards.

There are also concerns that motorists may be steering clear of cameras by using alternative routes.

Outlining the research, DoT officials state, ‘There is a need to establish the broader effects of speed cameras away from the specific camera sites and, in particular, to investigate whether the use of speed cameras causes a migration of accidents to other locations.

‘Research is also needed to demonstrate whether improvements in safety performance at speed camera sites arise from the presence of the cameras or from their deployment at accident cluster locations where safety performance could be expected to improve without treatment.’

The most recent figures for road deaths, from 2003, show a 2% increase in fatalities from 3,431 to 3,508.

And an internal audit by the Department for Transport found the number killed or seriously injured had gone up at one in every seven camera sites.

Motoring groups have welcomed the research project but warned it could be a mixed blessing for drivers.

‘This could be a double-edged sword,’ said Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA Motoring Trust. ‘Speed cameras may drive some of the problems elsewhere, but that could be used as an argument for either no speed cameras or more cameras.’

The RAC said it is also alarmed at the possibility of ‘blanket coverage’ of cameras and that the Department for Transport should broaden its perspective.


Speed cameras ‘may cause accidents’ 

By David Williams Motoring Editor, Evening Standard

24 June 2005

Fresh doubts over the value of speed cameras were raised today after a surge in accidents at sites where they are installed.

Official papers show that the number of crashes rose instead of fell at 70 sites in London.

At 32 speed camera sites there were an average of 48 more accidents involving death or serious injury over 12 months compared with previous years.

At 38 traffic light camera sites there were on average 62 more accidents, Association of London Government papers show. An investigation has now been ordered into why the cameras have not cut deaths and injuries. Some could be ripped out.

At other sites engineers will design traffic-calming schemes – in addition to the cameras.

Experts today claimed drivers were “distracted” by cameras and forced to look at their speedometers instead of the road. The alert comes after West Midlands police announced plans to remove 10 cameras and take film out of 150 more after fears they were endangering road safety.

Transport experts are baffled by the rise in accidents at specific sites in London. Overall, cameras cut accidents by 21 per cent, a study by the Transport Research Laboratory shows.

London’s remaining 730 speed and red-light cameras have all seen accident levels fall, according to the London Safety Camera Partnership, made up of councils, police and TfL.

The association’s report says: “The partnership will review the sites where collisions have increased. The review will include casualty/collision analysis, collision mapping and speed survey data.” Some cameras will be replaced by electronic signposts which, instead of fining drivers, display their speeds.

Each investigation will cost about 500 pounds, costing the partnership 35,000 pounds. A partnership spokesman said possible reasons for the cameras ‘ failure included rising traffic-levels and accidents caused by factors other than speed. He said there could be “individual reasons” at each site.

Possible solutions include changing street lighting, road markings and junction layouts and re-phasing traffic lights.

The investigat ion has prompted demands for an overhaul of the Government’s speed camera policy. Paul Smith of SafeSpeed said cameras were “nowhere near as effective” as claimed.

In 50mph zones policed by cameras, drivers spent so long studying their speedometers that they missed 40 per cent of what happened in the road ahead, he claimed.

Edmund King of the RAC Foundation said: “It is highly worrying that accidents are going up. There could be conflict between motorists who slow down for cameras and the growing underclass of unregistered drivers who do not.”

Rob Gifford of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety said: ” Cameras are sometimes the best answer but not always.”

Mon 23 May 2005

Speed Cameras’ Effect on Crashes “Exaggerated”

RESEARCHERS have questioned the ability of speed cameras to reduce crashes on accident blackspots.

Dr Linda Mountain, who led a University of Liverpool research team which investigated 149 blackspots across the UK, claimed the case for cameras on 30mph roads had been “exaggerated”.

The team also looked at the impact of other speed reduction measures, but only humps in the road were found to have a “significant” impact.

Dr Mountain, whose research was funded by a Government body, said: “Speed humps and cushions had a significant impact on fatal and serious accidents but cameras didn’t.

“It was a surprise. I expected to find some reduction.”

In total, humps reduced personal injury accidents by 44 per cent compared to 29 per cent for other engineering schemes and just 22 per cent for cameras.

Sue Nicholson, head of campaigns at the RAC Foundation for Motoring, said: “We have become fixated on speed cameras and need to think up more innovative ways of changing driver behaviour.

“Speed cameras don’t do that.”

Scotland Not Safer After Five Years of Speed Cameras


Road deaths in Scotland have remained static despite five years of speed camera enforcement.

The latest statistics from the Scottish Executive confirm that the number deaths on Scotland’s roads has not decreased since speed cameras were introduced in 1999. Last year, 307 died in driving accidents, a figure essentially unchanged from the 310 deaths figure in 1999.

Safe Speed road safety campaign founder Paul Smith argues that before speed cameras were installed, road deaths decreased every year as a result of improvements in vehicle safety and medical care. Had cameras not been deployed, Smith argues the trends show there would be 100 fewer fatalities every year.

“The truth is that Scottish road safety has not improved one jot since 1999 despite an explosion in the use of speed cameras,” Smith said.

Source: Key 2004 Road Accident Statistics (Scottish Executive, 6/15/2005)

Regional News:

The organisers of an anti-speed camera demonstration which saw hundreds of vehicles driving slowly along the M4 have hailed the protest a success. Protesters meet up before taking part in a 'go-slow' protest on the M4

Saturday, 30 April, 2005

The motorists travelled in two convoys at about 56mph across a 30-mile stretch of the motorway in Wiltshire.


M4 Protest said just over 400 vehicles took part in the action.

Sgt Nick Blencowe said about 12% of all people killed and seriously injured on Wiltshire roads happened on this stretch of motorway.

Traffic disruption

The protest group said it hoped the action would “show safe driving is too complex to be measured in miles per hour”.

Paul Smith, road safety spokesman for M4 Protest, said: “It couldn’t have gone better, it was like a picnic.”

He said the group had counted about 210 vehicles setting out eastbound from Leigh Delamere with another 200 leaving Membury to head west.

“The point wasn’t to cause traffic disruption,” he said. “We didn’t want to cause traffic disruption and we didn’t try to cause traffic disruption.

Police prepare to escort a 'go-slow' protest on the M4

The protesters were given a police escort along the route

Robin Summerhill, a spokesman for M4 Protest, said: “We are not condoning speeding.

“We just feel that far too much emphasis is now placed on speeding and not enough is being done to combat other motoring offences such as driving without insurance and dangerous driving.

“After £700m of fines, road deaths are going up, yet the greedy camera partnerships simply keep expanding.”

The Wiltshire Safety Camera Partnership recently introduced marked vans at fixed, permanent sites, along a 40-mile stretch between Bath and Hungerford.

Sgt Nick Blencowe, from the partnership, said: “We have about 12% of all people being killed and seriously injured on Wiltshire roads happening on this stretch of motorway and that’s quite unacceptable.

“We are charged with reducing death and injury on the roads. If we ignore the motorway we are ignoring a major part of that problem.”

Goodbye Speed Cameras, Hello a Spy in Every Car(click here)

August 24, 2003. Robert Winnett and Dipesh Gadher

The Sunday Times (UK newspaper) revealed today (in three articles) secret government plans examining “electronic vehicle identification” (EVI).

EVEN George Orwell would have choked.

Government officials are drawing up plans to fit all cars in Britain with a personalised microchip so that rule-breaking motorists can be prosecuted by computer.

Dubbed the Spy in the Dashboard and the Informer the chip will automatically report a wide range of offences including speeding, road tax evasion and illegal parking. The first you will know about it is when a summons or a fine lands on your doormat.

The plan, which is being devised by the government, police and other enforcement agencies, would see all private cars monitored by roadside sensors wherever they travelled.

Police working on the car-tagging scheme say it would also help to slash car theft and even drug smuggling.

The Big Brother scheme, outlined in documents shown to The Sunday Times and separate from the various congestion charging schemes being tested, has outraged civil liberties groups who claim the electronic vehicle identification (EVI) programme is draconian and an infringement of human rights. Even those less inclined to worry about Big Brother are likely to take offence. Tony Blackburn, the radio DJ and car buff, said: What are they going to do next? Start putting chips in people to make sure we are eating properly? The Department for Transport (DfT) is co-ordinating the project, the main impetus for which appears to have come from the police and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

The first part of an initial feasibility study, an 85-page document drafted by the Association of Chief Police Officers, is already complete and lists 47 possible applications for EVI.

Written by Superintendent Jim Hammond, head of Sussex traffic police, it acknowledges Big Brother concerns but sets out the benefits. Stolen cars could quickly be traced and uninsured drivers would automatically be identified.

It also notes that cars driven by terrorist suspects or drug smugglers could be monitored even in Europe if, as officials in Brussels envisage, EVI is introduced across the European Union.

The DfT has hired management consultants to co- ordinate the development of the system, which it is thought could become operational by 2007.

New vehicles could have identification chips, containing unique driver details, embedded in their chassis, while older vehicles could have tagged numberplates installed when they had an MoT test.

The existing network of roadside sensors, set up by traffic-monitoring companies and the Highways Agency, would require minimal modification to be used for EVI tracking.

The government is likely to face opposition from motoring groups. We need to have an open discussion about what this technology is being used for, who is being tracked and for what purpose, and what could be the hidden agenda, said Bert Morris, deputy director of the AA Motoring Trust.

Al Clarke, a spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: It is a case of whether society wants to accept it. We support speed cameras as a means of deterrence but not installing a fruit machine for the Inland Revenue or Customs in every car.

The DfT confirmed that EVI was being considered.

Liberty, the civil rights organisation, said: This could turn every driver into a potential suspect. It warned that motorists details held on a central computer could form the basis of a stalkers charter if accessed by hackers.

Saboteurs take out 700 speed cameras

UK NEWS: They are Mad – or Motorists Against Detection – and are dedicated to destroying the tools that help to keep roads safe

Stephen Khan

Sunday September 7, 2003

The Observer

They are the black knights of the road; balaclava-wearing highway hitmen out to burn, bomb, decapitate and dismember. But drivers need not fear, for it is speed cameras that this growing band of rebels are after.

Up and down the country, the tools used to keep roads safe are being ripped down, blown up and even shot apart as part of a campaign orchestrated by a gang of web-surfing outlaws. They threaten to become the most popular gang of criminals since Robin Hood and his Merry Men stalked the countryside.

More than 700 cameras across the nation have already been taken out and insiders warn that operations are about to be stepped up. Communicating through internet chat rooms, the activists move under cover of darkness, targeting devices they claim have taken a particularly heavy toll on drivers’ licences and wallets.

From the south coast to the Highlands no camera is safe. Known as Gatsometers, or Gatsos, they are being destroyed at a rate that has alarmed police forces. Particularly destructive cells are operating in north London, Essex and Wales – where they rage against machines deployed by renowned anti-speeding police chief Richard Brunstrom.

Last week Brunstrom, who is also head of the technology committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers, raised the possibility of introducing impairment meters to test the reaction times of elderly motorists, but the violent backlash against his camera crusade is growing.

With each unit costing £24,000 to replace, a huge bill is being run up. But the rebels are unrepentant, claiming the cost is more than met by speeding drivers’ fines. Speed cameras, they argue, are not about keeping roads safe, but about raising revenue. The charred remains of their victims are often adorned with stickers or graffiti which declare cameras to be stealth tax inspectors.

Recent months have seen new operations in Norfolk and central Scotland. A representative of the shadowy Motorists Against Detection (Mad) has claimed responsi bility and said hundreds of members were ready to risk thousands of pounds in fines and up to six months in jail.

The secretive figure who would give his name only as Captain Gatso warned that the campaign was being stepped up.

‘We are moving into a new phase which will see increased operations across the country,’ he said. ‘This is a struggle against an unjust form of taxation. The cameras have nothing to do with road safety and everything to do with raising revenue.

‘Our operatives are responsible people. Many are professionals with families who lead normal lives. Yet they feel aggrieved and will not just sit back and accept this. Direct action is our only form of defence.

‘These cameras are there to make money. The people attacking them are not boy racers or speeders. They are ordinary drivers who use cars to go about their business every day. They are trying to defend their livelihoods.’

Welsh IT consultant John Lockett runs a website used by speed camera saboteurs. He denied encouraging attacks and said direct action was ‘perhaps going a bit far’, but he echoed Captain Gatso’s anger.

‘I don’t endorse this action, but I don’t condemn it either. I’ve just set up a site that lets people known where cameras are. Everyone has a right to know that. What they then go and do is up to them.

‘You shouldn’t be caught for speeding if you have got to overtake a bus, let through an ambulance or swerve to avoid a kid. I think it’s wrong. To place a trap behind a tree, on a very fast corner or down a hill is unfair.’

He claimed to know a three-strong cell operating in South Wales. It had, he said, attacked one Gatso with ham mers so many times that the police had given up and taken it away.

Websites such as Lockett’s allow users to alert each other to new cameras and attacks that have eliminated existing ones.

They promote radar speed trap detectors and warn of the menace of what they call the Talivan – mobile police speed detection units. Other sites used by the rebels proudly display images of burned-out and felled Gatsos.

Even the camera widely touted as Britain’s most successful has been unable to escape their wrath. On the southbound carriageway of the M11 at Woodford, Essex, tyre tacks were found leading away from the toppled device which had been nabbing 2,000 motorists a day. Police believe a lorry driver deliberately reversed into it.

An Essex police officer said: ‘Perhaps if the person who did this could see some of the effects of speeding that we see in hospitals and mortuaries they would think differently about what they have done.’

Northamptonshire police offered a £2,000 reward for help in finding people who used a bomb to take out a Gatso on the A605 at Thrapston. The blast sent shards of metal flying more than 50 feet.

A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: ‘Attacking these cameras is an offence. If perpetrators are caught they will be arrested and dealt with.’

A counter-attack against the saboteurs is being launched by Susan Beck of the All Safety Camera Partnership, a publicly-funded body that works with the police to decide where Gatsos should be placed.

Last week it sent leaflets to schools and colleges across England and Wales encouraging young drivers to slow down. Such public safety schemes are partly paid for with speeding fine cash.

Beck said the best way to avoid speeding tickets was to obey the law and ridiculed the assertion that Mad was striking a blow for the public. ‘Cameras reduce death and injuries on the road,’ she said. ‘These units are designed to slow drivers down at recognised casualty hotspots.’

Leader: Back-seat Tax Collector (click here)

The Sunday Times UK – Comment

August 24, 2003

Motorists dread the back-seat driver who mars the freedom of the open road with usually unhelpful observations about their speed and driving ability. The modern equivalent is the speed camera, proliferating alarmingly, which has the effect of turning normally sensible road users into dangerous obsessives, slowing down sharply at the sight of one of these yellow perils and desperately scanning the rear-view mirror for the telltale flashes which show that they have been caught. Now technology is moving in such a way that even these tactics will not work. If you thought the speed camera was bad, there is worse in store. If the traffic police, government officials and the European Union have their way, we will all soon have an electronic back- seat driver in the car with us, monitoring our every move. 

Electronic vehicle identification (EVI), which could be fitted to every car in four to five years, will provide a record of where we travel and how we do it. Performing an illegal U-turn or driving through a red light could be picked up by it, as will driving a car that is not taxed, insured or carrying a valid MoT certificate. Tracking whether we are speeding or not becomes a straightforward matter, one of simply recording how quickly a vehicle has travelled between two roadside sensors and automatically generating a speeding ticket. The Association of Chief Police Officers has identified 47 ways that it will benefit from the new system, including parking offences. 

As always, there is a trade-off here between civil liberties and road safety. The new system could help to keep dangerous drivers off the road. It will also assist in tracking down stolen vehicles and those being driven

without tax, insurance and proper safety checks. The suspicion, however, will be that the system will mainly be used to clamp down further on normally law-abiding drivers and to extract spurious fines from them, while the real lawbreakers continue to get away with it. Motorists do not need a back- seat driver to remind them that this is what usually happens in Britain.