Sat-navs criticised as Scottish speed camera fines fall


By Michael MacLeod

SCOTS drivers have put the brakes on at speed cameras, sending speeding fines plummeting by a dramatic 60 per-cent.

New government statistics show almost 50,000 motorists were punished for speeding last year compared to 114,000 in 2006.

Some experts claimed the fall shows hard-hitting safety campaigns are making their mark.

But motoring organisations believe speed trap detecting in-car satellite navigation devices are behind the reduction in fines.

Almost half of Brits now own sat-nav systems, many of which warn drivers of upcoming camera sites.

Huge fall in fines

The speeding fine figures, provided by the Scottish Safety Camera Programme (SSCP), which runs the nation’s speed camera network, show a fall in fines throughout all areas of Scotland over the last four years.

Huge reductions in the number of drivers caught speeding on camera were recorded in Dumfries & Galloway – from 14,001 fines to 4,603 – and Strathclyde, where fines fell from 26,288 to 9,107.

The RAC’s road safety chief Andrew Howard insisted that the fall in fines reflected motorists’ growing knowledge of camera sites.

He said: “As a speed camera spends longer at one spot on the road, regular users have to be quite daft to be caught at it.

“In other words, rather than catching people who speed, they now catch those who forget that they shouldn’t be speeding, or tourists.”

Speed cameras are opposed by campaign group Safe Speed, who say they encourage speeding between cameras rather than changing driver behaviour.

Spokeswoman Claire Armstrong said: “More people are buying sat-navs to know where the cameras are likely to be.

“The motorist is encouraged to observe cameras rather than the road ahead.”

But a spokeswoman for Tom Tom insisted the devices aimed to help motorists drive safely and responsibly.

“Improved safety”

The SSCP says the drop in the number of drivers being caught by speed cameras was a positive development.

And the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (ACPOS), who spearhead seasonal road safety campaigns, agree.

They said: “Safety cameras are designed to improve safety, and any reduction in the number of motorists being caught is positive as it shows motorists are driving within the speed limit.

“The Scottish police service and partner road safety organisations will continue working to reduce casualties on our roads through education, encouragement and enforcement.”