decision that the Wandsworth Borough Council speed camera trial was not legally
sound draws a line in the sand for enforcement and compliance on the UK’s
for Transport’s (DfT’s) decision to declare Wandsworth Borough Council’s (WBC’s)
speed camera trial illegal makes an important point about the roles and
responsibilities of road enforcement here in the UK. It means that, for the
foreseeable, fines and endorsements for unsafe driving on public roads will
remain the responsibility of properly qualified agencies.
It also means
that local authorities need to consider other means by which to maintain and
improve road safety.
October 2022, the scheme was not supported by the Metropolitan Police
(‘the Met’), London Mayor or Transport for London (TfL). It attracted criticism
from road safety professionals and the media for several reasons.
significantly, WBC had contracted with a private-sector supplier to impose a
20mph speed limit along two roads. Despite not gaining support from the two
organisations named, a WBC spokesperson stated that the aims were to support
the Met and TfL with their speed enforcement work and to contribute to wider
London efforts towards Vision Zero.
In reality, it
meant that, for the first time in the UK, a borough council and its
private-sector partner would be issuing fines for excessive speed on public
WBC’s aim had
been to issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) of up to £130, the cost of which
would be reduced to £65 if the recipient paid within 14 days. This led to
accusations of revenue-generation, rather than there being any safety — or
environmental — imperatives.
any PCNs were actually issued the DfT told the DVLA that sharing registered
keeper information to support a scheme of the type being operated by WBC was
and is illegal, and told it to stop.
declaring the trial a success, the changes in driver behaviour it caused were
negligible — average speeds on the streets covered by the pilot reduced by just
1-2mph. This is not enough to have an appreciable effect on pedestrian/cyclist
safety or on vehicle-related emissions.
The same effects,
and better, are consistently achieved by solutions that are a tenth of the cost
of the solution used by WBC, which utilised a Home Office Type-Approved (HOTA)
Radar-triggered Speed Information Displays (SIDs) provide a check on motorists’ progress. Often, simple outside reminders of their real speeds are
enough to encourage compliance — as is being proven daily at many locations around the UK.
SIDs do not need HOTA and deployment/re-deployment is fast and simple.
They achieve same effect as the WBC pilot, and better, without the
need to issue PCNs.
To increase the range of technology options available, Truvelo has now
developed Automatic Community Speed Watch (ACSW). This replaces roadside
Community Speed Watch volunteers with an automated camera.
The camera used, Truvelo’s radar-activated VIA-Cam, is bi-directional. It can monitor traffic in
both directions, in all light conditions across a wide temperature range
(-15 to +50C), and measures all vehicle speeds above 5mph.
As well as increasing operatives’ safety, ACSW removes the subjectivity and fallibility of having humans involved in the monitoring process. It adds another intermediate
step between SIDs and full enforcement, and enables local/roads authorities and
the police to implement solutions which can be escalated in line with the
incidence and severity of offences.
And, it is legal — ACSW is already in successful operation in the UK.
In Hertfordshire, on-grid and off-grid
first-generation solutions are being used to monitor driver behaviour and
generate warning letters to drivers, the entire scheme being funded by the
Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Results have been extremely positive and the county is now looking at
implementation of the solution at several other sites where poor observance of
speed limits is seen as a problem.