The face of enforcement in the UK could be set for a big change, suggests Simon Griffiths, technical director, RedSpeed International, UK. As well as being more accepted by the general public – since they are seen as more fair than spot-speed technology – such systems are bringing more far-reaching benefits
It is widely acknowledged that the UK is one of the leaders when it comes to automated enforcement, with in excess of 3,000 fixed speed cameras deployed. Public perception of the cameras is hard to manage, particularly when the popular press sells the technology as a cashcow and unfair to drivers. Their benefits are often overlooked – until there is a fatality.
It could be argued the UK has reached saturation point with fixed speed systems, with public patience drained. Certainly the UK safety camera or casualty reduction partnerships face tough decisions in the short-term. Funding has altered; annual budgets are passed down to be spent on road safety in general. Revenue raised from fines goes immediately back to the Treasury. Faced with the costs of upgrading existing wet-film sites with new digital cameras, decision-makers need to decide whether to continue investing in spot-speed technology or look for alternatives.
Right: Average speed enforcement will be an ideal deployment for school zones
A number of options are available. Variable message signs, speed bumps, and traffic-calming measures have all seen some success. But automated enforcement manufacturers are offering a new alternative to fixed or spot-speed cameras. Average speed enforcement cameras are a familiar site at roadworks sites on motorways. Their use is not exclusive to these fast-moving highways though. The networked systems lend themselves well to both towns and suburbs. Hospitals and schoolzones in particular can benefit from the deployment of a camera at each end of the street. The enforced zone would be extended beyond the 200m range of a fixed camera.
Average speed enforcement
Whereas some cameras are deployed on multi-lane highways, RedFusion (a multipoint-to-multipoint, multi-lane average speed camera developed by RedSpeed) is capable of enforcing multiple speeds along a route. If cameras are deployed at entry and egress points and at any point along the route where the posted speed limit changes, the driver’s average speed will be determined for the length of the journey along the route.
Left: RedSpeed’s RedFusion system in situ on the Blackwall Tunnel in London
Average speed enforcement is demonstrating higher levels of compliance than spot-speed in a number of European countries where it has been deployed. This leads to reduced criticism that the cameras are there purely to raise money.
There are opportunities for other enforcement applications to be incorporated into these ALPR-driven systems. Already in the USA, cameras are being considered for Amber Alert cases to identify and alert authorities to vehicles suspected in child abductions. Where legislation will allow, they could also be used in road user charging. If the end-users are willing to accept the next generation of cameras, the future of speed enforcement could still be at the side of a road – at least until car-makers perfect in-vehicle technology.
Simon Griffiths is the technical director at RedSpeed International and is based in the UK
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