back to article Jeremy Clarkson tilts at windmills

Following last week’s round-up of road news by El Reg – and a number of reader comments about the new “average speed” cameras that are being rolled out across the UK - it's nice to see Jeremy Clarkson taking up the subject in his column in the Sun. (Just kidding- we know this has been a bugbear of JC since the dawn of time). …

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@Adrian Jackson

So, your suggesting that the most important thing to be watching, all the time, is your speedometer ??

How silly of me, I thought it was more important to watch the road.

Speed cameras in any of tehir forms don't work, for the fact that people are paying attention to their speed more than the road and because too many drivers today are driving at the speed-limit and not at an appropriate speed for the road (there are many instances where driving considerably below the speed-limit is preferable e.g. a small lane in a country village, limit 30, stupid to drive at that speed).

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@Craig Powell

"pull over and stop for one mile" - hahahaha.

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Dead Vulture

Why all the "sadly"s?

Sadly, there's nothing sad about the fact that the system, sadly, works. If you seriously can't, sadly, get behind of the wheel of a car without, sadly, committing a criminal offence (that's what speeding is, sadly, in case you'd sadly forgotten) then, sadly, you shouldn't be driving. Sadly.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Paul Hayes

I agree with what you´re saying, but this system has been type approved by the Home Office...

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@Nottingham AC

"Do what the rest of us do; Spray on Mud, Broken Plate, Clone, Or the Very Expensive and night only! IR ReactoLight LCD Cover."

Anything , ANYTHING but actually drive at or below the limit.

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Anonymous Coward

@Equal Distances

How do you "stop for one mile?" Craig?

Still doesn't explain variable speed limits where you pass a 50mph and then a 40mph soon afterwards. So then what is the average?

You can always use Anne Robinsons excuse "I have not driven through here before and didn't know there was a speed camera". But she still got banned but only for 6 months.

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RE: Myth

<Quote>

The system would be totally useless if it was as simple as changing lanes to fool it.

</Quote>

I totally agree... but then again, given what I've seen of the N3 project it's not difficult to imagine each camera running completely independantly of each other!

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@Craig

Sorry to be a pedant, but could you explain how you pull over and stop for one mile? I would have thought stopping would involve not covering any distance at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Adam Foxton

i.e. 70mph is a sensible speed for this Dual Carriageway. Driving under it is fine, driving over it is only fine if you judge it to be safe.

Driving under the speed limit NOT fine if you it is way under the speed limit. I was stuck behind an idiot doing 40mph this morning in the outside lane while trying to pass a slow farm vehicle doing a little over 35mph. The speed limit was 60mph. The result? A queue of half-a-mile with some very irate drivers, myself included.

Either drive at the limit or let others pass and THINK for Christ's sake!!

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No, its not a game Tim Jenkins

What is said child doing running out into the middle of the Motorway anyway?

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@Adrian Jackson

The arguement you and a number of people who defend speed cameras is completely valid. And of course it is also true that many people myself included argue against speed cameras at the same time as being habitual speeders.

My reasoning is not that it suits me (believe that if you will) but instead that the statistics regarding speed cameras simply don't show a link between presence and road safety in the vast majority of cases (unless you choose to intentionally analyse them in a statistically flawed way which is current goverment practice).

Bluntly put I do not believe that exceeding the speed limit is by itself dangerous driving, speed cameras treat it as such, come with other costs and don't detect the vast majority of genuinely bad driving.

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Silver badge

Want to buy...

A couple of very high-power infra-red lamps

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Anonymous Coward

@Matt Eagles

"As soon as Clarkson and his Leftie cronies "

Clarkson a Leftie?? Are you sure? I think his politics reside somewhere between Mussolini and Ghenis Khan.

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If breaking the motorway speed limit is such a big deal

Why don't the government specify that every new car sold is fitted with a speed limiter set to 70mph?

My guess is that they're not bothered about the speed people drive at.

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Anonymous Coward

@Jamie

Well there's your problem! The guy who had to stop shouldn't have brought a donkey onto a motorway.

The good thing about variable speed cameras is that for them to be effective you have to catch all the entry and exit points a particular distance. Country roads will be free of them for a while yet, so I'm just sticking to them instead. Speeding has never been more fun! Of course, I have to drive even faster to make up for the windey roads :-(

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@Jamie re: One main gripe with Speed Cameras instead of Police.

Surely the car that was following you for that distance would have pulled out into an overtaking lane and overtaken you?

Or are you one of the many people who illegally drive in the outside lane of motorways regardless of whether they're overtaking other vehicles?

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Dan
Boffin

Elf-n-safety

When did El Reg's readership get all Judge Dredd? Use your brain and drive according to the conditions. Do you really think 30 is safe outside a school? You'll still kill a child with that 1.5 tons of metal you're in. Even the 20mph 'school zone' limits can still be too quick. Likewise, if I'm on a non-congested motorway, in a well-maintained car which I know well, in good conditions, and I'm switched on and not obsessing with the speedo or dicking around with phone/satnav/food/drink/passengers, how is 85mph dangerous? It's safer than going too slowly on the same road. Like all laws, speed limits can never be exactly appropriate for all circumstances.

Scientist cos you lot all just appear to be too dim to understand this today.

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Go

Blurred vision

Sorry to disappoint you... I visited a company that makes ANPR systems, they had arabic plates in their lobby. Mud, arabic lettering, reflective paint - all tested regularly and well within their cameras' capability.

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Stop

Maintaining constant speed

If you can't drive at a near-constant speed without checking the speedometer every 2 seconds, then you need to brush up your driving skills or shouldn't be on the road. It's not exactly tough, keep your food steady on the gas and pay attention for changes of gradient. Or if you really can't drive, buy cruise control. It amazes me how people claim they should be allowed to speed because they're such good drivers, then in the next breath admit they're not able to keep within the speed limit.

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Pirate

It's about saving lives stupid...

To all the comments concerning the simplest way to not get caught - don't speed.

Unfortunately, it's more complicated than that.

(i) I don't want to live in a surveillance society.

(ii) I don't want a fully automatic judge-jury-and executioner. How many speeding tickets ever pass through human hands? How much of the process is fully automated.

(iii) When so many people do break the law you have to start questioning the law.

(iv) Speed does not kill, but inappropriate use of speed can be contributory. How can thousands of Germans drive at 150+mph every day and their accident rate is not proportionally worse?

(v) If you deskill the drivers (i.e. don't allow them to think), then you end up with loads of drivers with poor driving skills. Hence the drive everywhere at 38mph brigade...

(vi) Poor but slow driving is considered good, yet fast and good driving is considered bad?

(vii) It's actually easier to drive fast now, than it was 20 years ago. In the good old days there were no fixed cameras, you had to be alert for policemen. Now, they are so rare, you can drive as fast as you like away from the main revenue locations.

P.S. Pirate, because no red-coat is taking me alive!

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Coat

Solution

Electromagnetic pulse generator installed in boot, aimed skyward, combined with James Bond-style number plate that flips over to reveal a different plate or blank plate.

How about an organized slowdown to perhaps 1/3 the posted speed to protest these? Traffic would be in a snarl in no time.

Isn't the world Orwellian enough without these things?

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speed limits being lowered

"The cameras are trained on the centre of each lane, so straddle two lanes on the exit of the SPECS zone and you won't be spotted."

So how come there are only 2 cameras for a 3 lane motorway? I doubt one lane is missed so the cameras must cope with more than 1 lane.

What I'm miffed about is the reduction of the speed limit on many roads. For decades, it was deemed safe and legal to drive at 60mph on many country roads yet in the last few years and with no new developments along these roads, 40mph speed limits have appeared. Why? Cars are significantly better now at avoiding accidents (eg brakes) and if you do end up hitting someone, they're safer for all involved. So why was it ok for my Dad to drive his 1960's Ford Anglia at 60mph but not for me in my modern safe car?

And why am I forced to slow to 20mph past some schools at 2am on a Sunday morning during school holidays?

I think motorway limits should be raised, if you can do 60 on some tiny country roads, then surely you can do more than 10mph extra on a motorway?

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Alert

@michael

Michael - thanks for proving my previous point. Top man!

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How would it react to...

Here's one for Top Gear and Mythbusters...

3 different cars all with the same plate and 1/2 mile apart through the camera system...see how it copes, could be something the boy racers round here will try soon enough

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Anonymous Coward

@ EvilGav

No, I don't think Adrian was suggesting that at all. It's true, though, that you do spend too time looking at your speedo when you're seriously worried about getting a ticket. The appropriate speed thing sounds fair. but has the same flaw that all the arguments involving judgement have - loads of people let their ego override their judgement because they're such great drivers and know they can handle speed and have lightning reactions. In the rural area where I live limits have been moved out to ludicrous areas, but I've been told that this has as much to do with extending a village's planning area/limits outward as anything else. Anyway - while it seems cameras are making people look at their speedos more they're doing it because nowadays there's more chance of being caught not obeying the law. If you were trying to obey the law before this would have no effect on your driving. Finally, saying cameras don't work because people are paying attention to their speed *is* silly. That's the whole point.

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@ Mick Sheppard

"road works with cameras have more personal injury accidents in them, per km driven, that road works without cameras."

But presumably the road works with cameras are so policed because the risk of accidents is considered to be higher. So the comparison is pretty much worthless.

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Anonymous Coward

not an urban myth

It's actualyl about continuity of evidence, the makers of the cameras will obviously tell you that they work no matter what, but the issue isn't a technical one, it's a legal one.

Us Focus ST owners were discussing it recently at focusstoc.com/forums

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Anonymous Coward

@Alan Parsons

Done it, first time I was too chicken to "speed".

Second time I went above the limit by a good 20, and never got anything.

Not that I would do 70-80 in a 40 etc, but it definately makes it much more comfortable to get through.

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@EvilGav

"Speed cameras in any of tehir forms don't work, for the fact that people are paying attention to their speed more than the road and because too many drivers today are driving at the speed-limit and not at an appropriate speed for the road (there are many instances where driving considerably below the speed-limit is preferable e.g. a small lane in a country village, limit 30, stupid to drive at that speed)."

Appropriate speed? Hmmm, let me think - do you mean something like a limit set out by an expert body which gives you an indicator as to the absolute limit which you should do on a particular road? That sounds awfully like a speed limit to me.

Your country lane example proves a point - that is the absolute maximum you can risk doing on that road. But you should drive at less than that in order to be safe, especially in less than ideal conditions. The point of that limit is to show you that in absolute ideal driving conditions, with a car in it's prime, and an experienced driver, you can do 30 miles an hour. Anything other than that means you should be going slower.

Imagine a world where you can just do 70 in the right hand line, and not have some absolute idiot tailgating you and flashing because they want to go faster.

Morons...

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Re: Hmmm...

Just use an IR interference lacquer over the license plate. Transparent to visible light, invisible to IR.

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Excuse

There isnt actually any excuse for all these reasons to speed or to get round the technicalities, your energy is misdirected. (Ironically JC probably came up with a much better way during last years season - half way, stop, pullover, read the paper for half an hour, then do 120mph past the remaining cameras). However, just try the bizarre excuses in court for a laugh ("i nipped off to do some offroading half way along the contraflow"). And of course, courts always let you off if you have an amusing story.

If you have to do 50 in a 70 for a few miles, so fucking what? Grow up. You'll get to your destination a few minutes later. Enjoy the few minutes of not having to brake every 3 seconds because the twat in front doing 85 wont get out of the way. Also, why not enjoy the few moments where the chances of killing a roadwork guy are drastically reduced. After all, they only put these averaging speed cameras in because there is a warehouse full of them somewhere and they're just gathering dust.

However, its quite entertaining, in a rather smug way, to watch the people who dont understand what 'averaging over a distance' actually means and who fly through at 80. On the M6 yesterday, doing 50, I must have been overtaken about 30 times by some very fast cars, in about a 3 mile stretch.

incidentally, I got home exactly 1 minute later than planned. Next time, I'm gonna mow down one of those guys who puts the cones out! That'll shave off a few seconds.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark_T

Shhhhhhhh! Quiet!

One of the benefits of a completely car orientated government is although they completely overlook motorcycles to our annoyance in many respects, they have managed to implement a complete network of front facing cameras to get great photos of our faces, well eyeballs through the visor, but no number plate to go with them!

It's one of life's great pleasures!

The other is my 10 year old car which has an average speed function on the trip computer... Reset it as you enter an average speed zone, and if you get held up in the middle by a man dropping a cone a little bit wonky, you can see just how much you've got to play with by the exit... Usually resulting in me zooming past everyone a good 200 yards before the final camera...

And before anyone flames me for driving like a Clarkson, I obviously don't do this when there are people working in front of me, I have common sense, but 99 times out of 100 there are 3 miles of cones, and 1 guy scratching his arse waiting for his cup of tea about 2 miles in.

If they really want to reduce accidents, maybe they should take those damn flood lamps off of the lorries that carry the keep right arrows! They're so bright you loose any kind of night vision you once had, and a guy in a high-vis jacket is reduced to nothing more than a small silhouette!

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(Written by Reg staff)

stop for one mile

It works if you spin the middle side topwise.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

@Graham Marsden

They WORK in making people slow down.

They WORK in removing the concentration of the driver from the road onto his dashboard.

They WORK by making the road less safe.

But granted, atleast the rear end dent is only going to be caused at 40mph

More accidents, but less fatalities... WOOO...

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Anonymous Coward

@Tom Doggett

Everyone wants the speed limits increased, there are people campagining for it, also there is a lot of support for it. Its obvious.

But with the "allowed 90mph" on the motorways, is anyone realy going to go "ah yes, 85mph is what we need", does that mean we can now do 105mph? I doubt it... so whats the point.

It would be nice to see higher posted limits, but its doubtful, just lower limits, and in places where the roads are nice and big... this doesn't make sense so we are not expecting anything sensible.

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Anonymous Coward

@Eponymous Cowherd

I don't use a Camera Database.

I use something called AWARENESS to spot the cameras.

Something that a lot of drivers are missing... but will never get caught for. Unless they are unaware speeders... then they deserve it.

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Unhappy

Wasted money

I thought the approved method of preventing speeding was to make petrol so expensive you couldn't afford to burn it up by travelling over 50mph.

Talk about ignoring the real problem

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National speed limit outdated

The idea of a national speed limit in the UK is now outdated and should be scrapped. Free flowing rural motorways and dual carriageways should have an upper limit of 80mph. Busy and jam-prone stretches should all be covered with variable systems. If that costs too much, then a lower limit of 50mph should be fixed.

Abolish all cameras as well. I can't believe so much money can be justified on monitoring speeding motorists.

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Stop

They do work...

...but the retard drivers that slow down to 60mph to go past the 70mph static Gatso ones now do 60mph the whole way through the stretch of the average cameras... and *STILL* brake to go past the cameras!

Seriously people... you're only in trouble if you going OVER 70mph the WHOLE way through the average check...

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Anonymous Coward

last time i saw a set of the SPECs

it was on the M1, where there were road works, so no one got to get above the speed limit anyway!

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Pirate

It is too a game

"The child running out into the road as you 'zoom through the second at 120mph' will not be in a position to debate the matter..."

Nor would he be if you were doing 70mph when he ran out into the motorway.

What I want to know is why is some irresponsible little shit running out into the motorway in the first place? If he goes through someone's windscreen it could kill them, through no fault of their own. And the 8 pts of leaked blood is going to be a real skid hazard for anyone following behind.

I say ban pedestrians completely then we wouldn't have this potential killer on the roads at all.

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@Matt Eagles

"As soon as Clarkson and his Leftie cronies are removed from TV the better."

Clarkson a leftie? hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Idiot.

Anyhow, while all you sheep are happy for nanny to tell you what to do, some of us prefer to think for ourselves. Clarkson may be a bit of a twat, but I'd rather have him making policy that the current mob.

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Tom

Easy way to avoid the cameras

Surely, to avoid number plate recognition cameras the solution is very simple; tailgate very closely to the car ahead so your number plate is not visible.

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Flame

They may work but ...

They may work but they are also dangerous because people do spend more time looking at their speedometers and slowing down because they think they may have gone a tad too fast. Maybe the powers that be don't care about a few mph over the limit, but that really just shows what a nonsense arbitrary speed limits are, and is anyone going to chance it ?

The main reason for SPECS is to force people to drive under the set speed limit. The question is "Why" ? Then, does it actually make those roads safer or not ?

Such "safety improvements" and zero tolerance don't always work for the best - Emergency services can wait behind me in a traffic queue because I'm not jumping a red light with a camera monitoring it with all the hassle that may bring.

If people die as a result; blame the Government.

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Sactimonious hypocrisy

So, to all the people who say "Stick under the limit and you'll be OK". Feeling is it's about 20% of comments on here.

Do any of you, ever, under any circumstances, creep over the limit? Would you prefer that to be witnessed by a copper who might use his judgment, or by a camera that would just stick a fine in the post?

The same copper might just see the guy driving at the speed limit but 6" from the car in front. Then a dangerous driver WOULD get his come-uppance. The camera, of course, would ignore him.

Really, seriously, which would you prefer? Try thinking, rather than knee-jerking. Copper checking your driving is safe or speed camera strictly checking you're keeping below the limit?

O

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Paris Hilton

Unfortunately Speed kills

I've an in-law that works for the department of transport.

Having spent many years in computing, he found it very refreshing to be now in the business, as he put it, of "saving lives".

Speed does kill.

Not every time, not every place, but faster driving will *statistically* have more fatal accidents.

So by enforcing the speed limit (whether by SPEC or GATSO or just funny lane markings (like darts)), reduces fatal accidents and thus saves lives.

It used to be that for Police/Councils had to show statistics for a road section to justify the placement of a GATSO camera. But that seems not to be the case anymore.

But concentrating on the SPEC, doesn't anyone else find that there are less of those "stopping for no reason jams" on those averaged sections now?

heck, I'd rather hand over control of the car to the motorway agency control and then turn around and make a nice cuppa and read a book until it was time to assume control. I'm pretty certain that all computer controlled lanes would result in faster travel times on the motorways.

Paris, cos like 90% of drivers, she'd consider herself an average driver.

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@Adrian Jackson

Sounds like you've swallowed the government statistics...

Speed does not cause accidents. Bad driving (which can, but does not have to, include inappropriate speed) causes accidents.

Speed (sorry, safety) cameras are a strict letter of the law device, that take into account absolutely nothing but your speed. Unlike a real policeman (if you remember what they look like), who could judge if you were being silly using years of experience.

Take for example a camera on a 30mph stretch near a school.

Situation 1: Pouring rain, 3pm in the afternoon, school kick out time, car doing 29mph (I know, fat chance of doing >1mph with all the 4x4s about, but go with me on this one).

Situation 2: Same road, 2am, lovely clear and dry summer night, car driving at 35mph.

Now which one of those is going to get the speeding ticket? Number 2 because he's doing 35mph past the camera.

Now which of those if most likely to have an accident and hurt someone? Number 1.

I looked carefully at the statistics for a camera near me, the headline said that it had reduced accident, and upon study, yes it had, by about 2 a year (which to be honest would have been eaten up just be standard random variations). However, dig into the figures a little deeper and you find although the total number of accidents had fallen, the fatalities had actually risen! Now I don't know about the rest of you, but I find a few more dents, scratches and bruises highly preferable to deaths.

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@ John Curry

Expert body eh?

This is a 30mph road:

http://tinyurl.com/57ncgb

This is a 60mph road:

http://tinyurl.com/5lkus2

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Saftey - Mick Sheppard

"Based on talking with friends and colleagues they feel that they spend more time looking at the speedo when driven through average speed camera zones than they normally do."

Until you, your friends and apparently a host of others can judge your speed without the need to constantly monitor the speedomoeter then I suggest you all refrain from driving.

As a few others have pointed out, the way to avoid a fine is to stick within the legal limits. If you want to travel at more than what is legally allowed then you are doing so intentionally and if caught should accept the punishment.

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