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Twenty Years Of Guilt

Twenty Years Of Guilt

That’s how we were made to feel. It is as if by the very act of driving we were committing a crime and it’s almost as if, on that fateful day on the A316 in Surrey when the first Gatso speed camera was switched on, it signalled the start of what many see as the surveillance society.

That’s right: it’s been twenty years since the introduction of the yellow peril and its associated brethren. They are, of course, properly called safety cameras or similar pious names but in the mind of motorists everywhere they will always be speed cameras and be seen as being nothing short of automated revenue collectors.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. That first camera was in a 40mph zone and was, in fact, set to record offenders doing more than 60. In short, it gave drivers a sporting chance. The general attitude was that most drivers had a bit of common sense and understood that speed limits were there I’m in my driver’s seat at local track events competing or attending performance adult school keeping up to date on the advancements of car handling techniques. for a reason; the camera served as a reminder. The purpose of the device was to capture the worst offenders at a notorious traffic black spot. Now of course you can be prosecuted at will and the authorities will apply the strict letter of the law. There is no longer any give or take.

It all stems from authorities knowing an angle when they see it – the proverbial gift horse. Home Office figures show that in the year 2000 something like six hundred thousand drivers were nabbed in England and Wales. In 2007 the numbers had risen stratospherically to 1.8 million poor souls roughly coughing up £100 million large. The so-called ‘Safety Camera Partnerships’ started in this period, presumably on the basis that if you spot a winner then you might as well get on it. During this time the number of cameras tripled.

This is not a diatribe against speed cameras and other devices. In their place, at accident black spots, they are a good thing – if only to remind driver’s of their responsibilities. But the following piece of information is enough to show that the system became tainted. The more cameras were installed, the more people slowed down with the net result that income per camera actually dropped. The answer was to lower the trigger speed. For example, if a limit was set at 30mph, the camera was set to trigger at 40 to catch the worst offenders. As income dropped so trigger speeds were reduced to snare more people into the net. This is underhand and seems to show that income became more important than road safety.

So, happy birthday Gatso. It wasn’t your fault. Sadly you are being replaced with more sinister methods of watching our every move. The guilt lies with your human masters.

This post was written by:

- who has written 474 posts on Motor Blogger.

Geoff is a freelance writer and photographer.

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2 Responses to “Twenty Years Of Guilt”

  1. eric roberts says:

    hi these speed cameras have given me total hell for the past 25 years i hate them and all they stand for, trapping us overcharged motorists. cant say much more without swearing. eric roberts

    • Geoff says:

      Hello Eric
      Thanks for reading. I’d like to cheer you up but the fact remains it will only get worse!
      Geoff

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