The £1m-a-year motorway speed camera that is causing accidents
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:37 AM on 07th January 2009
Since the camera, like this one, appeared the number of accidents has risen by a quarter
A motorway speed camera which has increased the number of crashes and injuries at its site is revealed today as the most profitable in Britain.
It is estimated to catch up to 500 drivers a day, generating nearly £1million a year in fines.
Yet accidents have risen by a quarter and casualties have almost doubled since the Gatso camera was installed on the M11 at its junction with the North Circular A406 near Woodford, Essex.
Police said crashes happened because motorists slowed down ahead of the camera and then speeded up once they were clear of it.
Campaigners demanded the scrapping of the camera and accused the authorities of using the devices to raise cash rather than save lives.
The camera, jointly run by Essex Council, the police and the Highways Agency, is on the southbound M11 where the road narrows from three lanes to two and the speed limit drops from 70mph to 50mph.
Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show that in the five years before the camera was put up, there were 13 accidents and 14 casualties. In the following five years, the number of accidents rose to 16 and casualties to 24.
Motoring campaigner Paul Pearson said: 'The undisputed fact is that no lives have been saved by this camera.'
A Highways Agency spokesman said: 'The accident data does not show a pattern of accidents which would be consistent with the camera itself being a factor.'
Mr Pearson, who runs the website PenaltyChargeNotice.co.uk, said: 'What may well be one of the most profitable speed cameras in the country is actually causing accidents and injuries and yet Essex Police are refusing to remove it.
'In February 2008 we witnessed the aftermath of a three-car pile-up immediately in front of the camera. It was obvious that it was the camera that caused the accident because cars were having to reduce speed and merge and then of course some motorists slam on their brakes when they pass the camera.'
Mr Pearson said he had written to Essex police and his MP, warning them the camera was causing accidents.
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SPEED TRAPS CAUSE MORE ACCIDENTS THAN THEY PREVENT So many speed cameras are there for money-making purposes and not to prevent accidents. They encourage sudden braking and force drivers to focus on spotting them rather than other hazards.welshrarebits
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An Essex police spokesman said motorists were causing the accidents.
'People are slowing down for the cameras and then speeding up again. This in turn causes the collisions,' he said.
'They shouldn't be speeding up. They should stick to the speed limit.
'The camera is there to reduce collisions and to reduce congestion into the nearby A406.'
Department for Transport figures reveal that just three per cent of car accidents are caused by drivers exceeding the speed limit.
But nationally around two million motorists a year are hit with speeding fines and a £60 fixed penalty from around 6,000 cameras.
Speed cameras already face the axe from a Tory council which has condemned them as a 'blatant tax on the motorist'. They plan to scrap £400,000 a year funding for the speed-traps and to pull out of the Government's speed camera partnership scheme.
Ministers predict a boom in new-generation digital 'average speed cameras' which track a vehicle over many miles and work out its average speed over the distance. This puts a stop to drivers reducing their speed as they pass a camera, only to accelerate again a short distance down the road.