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Do Automatic Fines Make Our Roads Safer?

Automatic FinesEvery day, 33,000 penalty notices are issued by police and local authorities; that’s one every 2.5 seconds. The vast majority of these are automatic fines, and the penalties are issued without human judgement being exercised. But, does automatic fines really reduce accidents?

Do Automatic Fines Make Our Roads Safer?

If you trigger a speed camera many will say, “tough, you were speeding.” But what about putting your foot down to safely get past a cyclist? When a machine instead of a person decides on a penalty, they cannot use judgement.

A recent report from the RAC, ‘Automated Road Traffic Enforcement: Regulation, Governance and Use’ found that in 2015, eight million parking penalties were issued by councils, 2.5 million tickets were issued for contravening bus lanes or box junctions, 500,000 for taxing the car late and a million were for speeding or running red lights. That’s not including the 1.2 million people who attend a speed awareness course every year to avoid three points and a fine.

Local authorities and police forces believe that cameras are a better use of resources as budgets and staff numbers fall. Money talks, and between 2010 and 2014 the number of traffic officers went down by 24 percent. When cameras first began being used it cost £1.5 million to cover one mile with speed cameras; today that figure is just £100,000.

It was recently reported that even that is costing much for some forces and half the cameras on many roads are actually turned off. But who knows which half? Of course driving within the limit is important, but it is not always the same as driving safely: Can a camera spot a driver using a mobile phone, or one over the alcohol limit? 

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