Newsflash! Speed cameras make a comeback

Two years after they were decommissioned following funding cuts for the Safety Camera Partnership, up to 26 speed and traffic light cameras are to be turned back on across Bristol in the New Year. In 2011 Oxfordshire County Council pulled a similar U-turn over speed cameras just months after they were switched off, after seeing the number of speeding offences in the district soar. But there hasn’t been any such surge in speeding convictions or an increase in accident rates in Bristol. George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: "While the number of those killed or seriously injured on our roads has reduced recently, there are still too many incidents, especially those involving pedestrians and cyclists" So why are the cameras getting switched on again? It could be something of a pre-emptive strike before there is a spike in speeding offences. Chief Constable Nick Gargan explained: "National research shows that they have a positive impact on driver behaviour and we have been working with the council to identify a cost neutral way of reactivating them."

Speed-cameras

And so to the cost of getting these cameras back up and running, an issue that inevitably results in accusations of local councils making a profit from motorists’ pockets. It’s already been stated that revenue raised from the cameras will be used to fund their maintenance and enforcement, which should be enough to quell any fears that the cameras will be used to swell the council’s coffers. So, if you’re speeding and you get caught on camera, what consequences can you expect to suffer?

The cost of being caught speeding

If you exceed the speed limit and get caught by the police or a safety camera then you could be in line for any of the following:
  • A verbal warning
  • The chance to attend a speed awareness course (you’ll have to pay the fee for attending)
  • A fixed penalty notice, complete with a £60 fine and three penalty points which will stay on your licence for four years from the date of the offence
  • A prosecution, which involves a court appearance, a £1,000 fine (£2,500 if speeding on the motorway), up to six penalty points and the possibility of a driving ban.

Why you could be prosecuted

The main reason police bring prosecutes for a speeding offence is that the offender was driving well over the speed limit. And while this can be down to their discretion, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) suggests the following guidelines:
Speed limit Minimum speed for a fixed penalty notice Minimum speed for a prosecution

20mph

25mph

35mph

30mph

35mph

50mph

40mph

46mph

66mph

50mph

57mph

76mph

60mph

68mph

86mph

70mph

79mph

96mph

What happens when you’re caught speeding?

If caught speeding by a fixed camera, a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) detailing the offence is sent to the vehicle’s registered keeper along with a Section 172 notice. The keeper of the vehicle must then respond within 28 days and nominate the person who was driving at the time of the offence, using the Section 172 notice. Failure to do this is a separate offence that carries an additional fine and penalty points. The police have 14 days from the date of the offence to issue an NIP, but may take longer if extra time is needed to find out who the vehicle’s registered keeper is, or if there is a delay because the registered keeper has not informed the DVLA of a change of address. If you’re stopped for speeding by a police officer, they can give you a verbal warning of prosecution instead of issuing an NIP. There will also be no NIP if the offence occurred as part of a road traffic accident.

What happens when you’re given a speeding ticket?

When you return the NIP you’ll then be issued with a Conditional Offer of a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) and you can either pay this and accept the penalty points or contest it in court – but bear in mind that the prosecution’s job is to simply prove you were speeding and saying you didn’t know the speed limit or didn’t realise how fast you were going will not be considered a reasonable defence. As an alternative to having penalty points put on your licence, something that will bump up the cost of your car insurance, you may be offered a place on a speed awareness course, a four-hour course that will set you back around £85. If you are caught driving well over a road’s legal limit, or are caught speeding and you already have over eight points on your licence, you may be prosecuted and will be sent a court summons at any time up to six months from the date of the offence. So will more council’s follow Bristol’s lead? And what will the public perception be? Let us know your thoughts in the boxes below.

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