Smile you're on camera: speed enforcement

malaysia fixed speed cameraThis is Malaysia's first fixed speed camera, installed in 2017 near Kuala Lumpur. Automated speed enforcement through camera technology, supported by a rigorous administration system that penalises drivers who break speed limits with monetary fines, saves lives by slowing down traffic. Drivers know they will be caught, and fined if they are caught, so they slow down. Slower speeds mean drivers can stop in time, and collisions, when they do occur, can have less grave consequences.  

Speed cameras raise funds, through fines imposed on speeding drivers, that enables installation and maintenance of cameras to be self-funding. Funds raised can also be ringfenced for increased expenditure on supportive road safety measures to combat speed, for example the building of pavements, cycle paths, and speed humps to segregate and protect people and slow down traffic in urban areas. Secondly, fixed speed cameras reduce the need for police to enforce speed, which is time-consuming. 

Different kinds of cameras 

There are different kinds of speed cameras. The one pictured above takes a single photograph of the number plate of a vehicle travelling at a stipulated speed above the regulated speed limit of the road. Average speed camera systems require two cameras. They work by recording a vehicle's front number plate at each fixed camera site. (The distance is known between these sites and the average speed can be calculated by dividing this by the time taken to travel that distance.) Mobile cameras (often called "radar guns") are portable, and can be used by enforcement officers at different sites. 

Disparity of instalment between nations 

Cameras have been, and are, being installed around the globe. There is disparity between countries regarding rate of instalation of speed cameras. For example in the UK cameras have been installed in significant numbers across the road network over the past 20 years. In low and middle income countries, progress has been much slower, impeded by logistical problems, such as issues regarding irregularity of power supply to cameras and inefficiencies in the related administrative and judiciary processes [1]. 

Evidence cameras work 

Speed cameras have been proven to reduce speeds and consequently save lives in numerous case studies and reports from around the world, on roads in towns and between places. 

  • A four-year national evaluation of more than 4,000 speed camera sites across the UK found a 70% reduction in speeding at fixed sites, a fall of 6% in average speeds and a 42% reduction in deaths and serious injuries [2].
  • Researchers at Liverpool University developed a mathematical model which proves that speed cameras substantially reduce crashes, even when accounting for random fluctuations in crash levels (known as ‘regression to the mean’) [3].
  • Analysis of data from 551 fixed speed cameras across England found that fatal and serious collisions dropped by an average of 27% in their vicinity following installation [4].
  • Annual deaths and serious injuries dropped 68% at all 408 speed camera sites in Scotland, when comparing the three-year average post-installation with the three-year average prior to installation [5].
  • A review of 35 international studies into the effectiveness of speed cameras found that speed cameras reduce average speeds by 1-15% and serious and fatal crashes by 11-44% [6].

End notes

[1] O David*, C C Ojugbana, E Onyewelehi, A Eseanobi, Investigating effectiveness of speed cameras in developing communities the Nigerian perspective, Injury Prevention, 2010

[2] The national safety camera programme: Four-year evaluation report, PA ConsultingGroup, UCL, University of Liverpool and Napier University, commissioned by the Department for Transport, 2005

[3] Speed cameras do reduce accidents, say researchers, Phys.org, 2008

[4] Deaths and serious injuries down a quarter near speed cameras, RAC Foundation, 2013

[5] Key Scottish Safety Camera Programme Statistics 2011, Scottish Government, 2012

[6] Speed cameras for the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths, Cochrane Injuries Group, 2010