The Highways Agency plans to install cameras on motorways that could enforce the seventy miles per-hour limit. These should provide the authorities with rich pickings as – according to a survey for Autocar Magazine – nearly ninety-five percent of motorists have admitted to speeding on the motorway. Up to this point, enforcement cameras have tended to be temporary fixtures close to roadworks that protected the workers, or mounted in vans by the roadside and on bridges. The new cameras will be installed on the M1, M6 and M25 as part of the smart motorway network. This helps maintain traffic flow by creating capacity via measures such as varying the speed limit and opening the hard shoulder for non-emergency traffic (as necessary). The cameras have been nicknamed 'stealth' cameras by parts of the media as their colouring is likely to be grey rather than the more visible bright yellow. Critics, therefore, have argued that installing cameras that are hard to see will have little impact on slowing down traffic. However, the Highways Agency has stressed that the cameras will be signposted and that - as with every other road type 'the onus is on the driver to abide by the speed limit'.
How The Speed Limit Is Enforced
The smart motorway cameras will not necessarily penalise motorists for slightly exceeding the speed limit. This would be impractical and unpopular enough to cause significant problems for the government. As such – in general terms only - the Association of Chief Police Officers has guidelines that provide motorists with a little breathing room. The rule of thumb is that drivers are not normally punished until they exceed the relevant speed limit by ten percent, plus two miles per hour. On the motorway this is seventy-nine (seventy plus ten percent is seventy seven, plus two miles per hour). Those that are not excessively over the limit are typically punished via a Fixed Penalty Notice that incorporates a one-hundred pound fine, plus three to six penalty points on the licence. More serious cases, however, such as when motorists hit ninety-six on the motorway typically result in court cases and heavier punishments. Repeat offenders that receive twelve points in three years typically have their licences revoked. There are exceptions for those that prove disqualification would have an excessively detrimental influence on their lives. Furthermore, new drivers are banned once they receive six points in two years. This is to encourage responsible driving from the day one.