This article was written in 1996, since then the speed limit has been reduced from 70mph to 50mph.

The Good

The first camera was placed on the inbound A3 at the start of the original West London 'experiment'. It is virtually a object lesson in how to site a speed camera, just before a dangerous intersection just after a 70mph three lane dual carriageway goes to two lanes and reduces to 40mph. A warning sign is present enabling people to slow down in good time for the junction and the camera.

[Good Gatso] Full size = 84K The camera is just beyond the traffic light warning sign.

But there are no calibration marks on the road beyond the camera indicating that it has never been used in anger since these marks were added to cameras about a year after their introduction. Does this begin to raise questions in your mind as to the motivation of those who control these devices?

The Bad

Once the dangerous junction has been negotiated, there is a stretch of narrow two lane dual carriageway with direct residential access, very sensibly limited to 40mph. After this the road goes back to a three lane dual carriageway for about a mile before entering Wandsworth. This road is wider and safer than the previous 70mph stretch, with no urban features whatever, but the limit remains at 40mph. Any driver concentrating on travelling at a safe and appropriate speed for the conditions will inevitably break this ridiculous limit.

[Bad Gatso] Full size = 72K A camera sited on an open dual carriageway.

The new camera in located right bang in the middle of the best bit of this road. Copious calibration marks in all three lanes show that the reluctance to load cameras with film disappears in direct proportion to their ability to earn revenue by issuing fines that have no road safety justification.

A far cry indeed from the glib promises of 1991.

The Plain Ugly

In the opposite direction, the road again goes from three lanes to two, but this time without any houses facing the road. Hidden behind a road sign at exactly the point where three lanes go into two, is a third camera, one which is sited in such a way that it creates a serious hazard to passing traffic. The likely effect of sudden, camera induced braking as free flowing traffic merges and hence temporarily reduces following distances is not hard to imagine for anyone with any driving experience or imagination.

[Ugly Gatso] Full size = 70K A deliberately concealed camera on a hazard-free road.

Unfortunately, these qualities seem sadly lacking in the faceless bureaucrats who appear more interested in issuing fines than in making a genuine contribution to road safety.

The ABD strongly believes that it is time to curtail this abuse of speed camera technology by legally requiring the authorities to restrict camera placement to proven speed related accident blackspots and to clearly label such cameras with that justification. If you agree, then now is the time to Join the ABD.


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