Massive fall in speed camera fines

THE number of motorists hit with speeding fines after being caught on camera in Edinburgh has fallen by more than 30 per cent in the past year.

The AA put the dramatic decrease down to drivers becoming wise to where static cameras and speed traps were being set.

The number of convictions has tumbled despite a recent trebling of the number of speed traps.

The head of the region's safety camera partnership claimed speeding has now become as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

But critics said drivers only slow down when they are approaching the cameras, and then revert to their normal speed.

Many motorists are also tapping in to new technology, with a range of camera-detecting products available in high street stores from as little as 80.

New figures released today show speeding fines in Edinburgh plummeted by almost a third last year, down to the lowest level since 2003.

Across the whole of Lothian and Borders, motorists captured speeding by both fixed and mobile cameras fell by a quarter from 42,524 to 31,655.

Neil Greig, head of policy with the AA in Scotland, said: "The new figures are good news. We have always said that the best speed camera is the one that slows traffic and issues no tickets.

"The real acid test of a camera's success comes from a reduction in casualty figures."

New cameras were installed at 17 accident blackspots as part of a 2 million initiative three years ago, with a total of 35 fixed and mobile camera sites now operating around the city.

The locations of mobile cameras are advertised online, and are regularly reported in the Evening News.

The scheme is operated by the Lothian and Borders Safety Camera Partnership, a collaboration between local councils, Lothian and Borders Police and the Scottish Executive.

In 2002 only 7724 tickets were issued in Edinburgh, but for the 12 months ending in March this year, 21,493 motorists were fined - down from 31,004 in 2004/05.

Colin McNeil, manager of the safety camera partnership, said: "In today's world the vast majority of law abiding drivers wouldn't dream of drink driving and I truly believe that we are on our way to making speeding as equally unacceptable."

Up-to-date statistics on road accidents are not yet available. However, in the ten years since 1996 there has been a 20 per cent drop in injuries. In the last three years, not a single child has been killed on the Capital's streets, compared to eight fatalities in the three previous years.

Councillor Andrew Burns, the city's transport leader, said: "These figures show that safety cameras do work as a deterrent to speeding. The primary function of these cameras is to encourage drivers to adhere to speed limits - after all they do exist for a reason."

But Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign - which opposes the use of cameras - said:

"People are getting wise to the cameras. They know where they are and slow down for them or choose a different route that has no cameras.

"The speed camera programme is a disaster that focuses everyone on the wrong safety target."
Hi-tech gadgets in the battle against speed traps

THERE are a number of gadgets on the market that help motorists avoid costly fines by pinpointing speed cameras.

The speed camera warning systems vary in price between 80 and 400 and they work on two different types of technology.

The older speed detectors work on radar beams where they detect the frequency of a speed radar trap ahead and warn the driver.

The more sophisticated speed detectors use a satellite global positioning system, where every known speed camera in the UK can be logged and their positions relayed to vehicles as they approach them. The system can be updated but does not detect mobile cameras.

Laser or radar-based detectors are likely to be banned by the Department of Transport in the coming months.