back to article Labour moots using speed cameras to reward law-abiding drivers

The new shadow transport minister has suggested that the country's network of average speed cameras could be used to monitor and reward careful drivers with prizes, cheaper car tax, or by deducting penalty points from their licence. Conscious that her party was perceived as anti-motorist when in government, Angela Eagle …

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  1. David Taylor 1

    Careful drivers? Penalty points?

    Why would careful drivers /have/ penalty points on their license in the first place??

    1. Just Thinking

      Negative points

      I am a very careful driver. Does that mean I could build up negative points?

      Could be useful for when you are really in a hurry.

      1. Elmer Phud
        WTF?

        Points don't make prizes

        So far I've yet to get a point.

        As I've got over 30 years of an unstamped license I must be a really safe driver and can I have my free Zonda as I obviously don't speed or do anything else to attract Les Blues.

    2. Graham Dawson
      Big Brother

      Easy

      Driving down a clear road behind a driver who is obviously driving dangerously (swerving, randomly changing speed, possibly talking on his phone, though tending to remain under the limit - in fact remaining well below the limit, causing a hazard), they may have accelerated (after carefully checking their way was clear) to pass the driver, only to find a speed camera van lurking behind a bridge support. The safe driver making safe use of speed gets punished whilst the unsafe driver who may be under the speed limit but is obviously driving badly gets away with it because he was under the limit.

      That's how careful, good drivers get points.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even Driving instructors

      Can have up to 4 points without any problems...

    4. Eponymous Howard
      Thumb Down

      Rehabilitation...

      ...is a fundamental part of any system of justice.

  2. mafoo
    FAIL

    Database fetish

    The labour party really has a fetish for collecting large amounts of peoples habits, statistics, biometric information - and storing it in databases.

    For this to work, average speed check cameras would have to be installed over the whole of the country - expensive. then they would all have to be networked up in a way that didn't fail - expensive.

    What prizes is she suggesting? 50p off a gingsters pasty at a motorway service station (That might bring their price below a fiver!)

    As for reduced points on the licence - i can see people hiring someone to drive their car round the M25 at 40Mph for a few weeks just to reduce their points.

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot
      Happy

      Careful now!

      They don't need any more help coming up with dopey ideas!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Already done

      The police have already installed a nationwide ANPR system, though nobody seems to have noticed. The data - number plates and timestamps - is already being captured and stored centrally. Calculating average speed from this would not be hard.

    3. No, I will not fix your computer

      @Database fetish

      >>For this to work, average speed check cameras would have to be installed over the whole of the country - expensive. then they would all have to be networked up in a way that didn't fail - expensive.

      GPS in all cars, dumping the locations and speed to collection points, automatic tickets when you're over 10% +2 and automatic removals if you're constantly under the speed limit, it would work in a 2000AD Judge Dredd world, but until then it won't.

  3. Titus Aduxass
    Thumb Down

    Remember to type a title here

    "Angela Eagle suggested such uses for the cameras "might make people understand there is a point to [them]" she told The Daily Telegraph."

    I thought you were supposed to have a point *before* spending millions on them. Not trying to invent a point for them sometime afterwards.

    1. Michael C

      misread

      There is a point, people just don't understand it.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        or

        There is a point, people just don't enjoy it.

  4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    FAIL

    so

    Whats the point, although some main routes have average speed camera the majority of motorists will never go through them.

  5. The FunkeyGibbon
    Black Helicopters

    The best thing about being in opposition is...

    ... you can spout rubbish like this and nobody has to take you seriously. :-)

  6. Gary F
    Thumb Down

    Is this is why they are no longer in Government?

    A loony idea. How about random prizes for pedestrians who don't mug people? Or prizes for horny men that don't do rape?

    A lot of the worst speeding offenders have incorrect or no data at all registered with the DVLA anyway. They are effectively immune to speeding tickets and I expect they don't care if they aren't eligible to win a prize for not speeding.

    Prizes for Internet users who don't hack or download copyright material? Prizes for pedos who only download pictures of over 18s? ;-) The list of idiotic ideas goes on.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Thumb Up

      @Gary F

      "A lot of the worst speeding offenders have incorrect or no data at all registered with the DVLA anyway."

      You missed disqualified drivers who don't give a s**t.

      I'm sure there are a few more reasons as well.

  7. tony trolle

    Just remembered why I left the UK

    speed cameras, shoot coming back soon.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good idea

    Damn, typing that title hurt

    Now the downside..

    Such a shame the whole idea will track your movements, be linked to a huge database, ooh that could be used for ID cards perhaps...

    I spot a business opportunity though, I'm available to drive your car correctly, courteously and in compliance with all the road traffic laws, rates on application though if you own anything less than two years old by Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bugatti or an Audi R8 I'll do it for free.

    1. Michael C

      um, no.

      Just because we have data is no indication that we have the CPU power to MINE that data. A look up is one thing, but turning hundreds of millions of disparate data points collected each day into a map noting the pathing of each and every car in the EU, accounting for their travels when the take roads not accommodating speed cameras, track that back to a driver no less (more than one person commonly drives each car), and even then try to use THAT output in some meaningful way?

      Look, here in the USA we researched building a national education database to track the performance of each student, teacher, building, and district across the country. nothing more than a repository of grades and what classes each kid took. A few dozen data points on each kid each year, plus some additional data on each schools curriculum and association of student to class to teacher. Something a bit more complex than a medical history database in terms of data volume, and with a lot more cross referencing and trend analysis.

      The results? The size of the data-set would have exceeded the IRS database with just a couple of years of collected data on each kid, let alone trying to track a kid across multiple schools and 12+ years. Worse, IRS data is easily dividable to person, county, state, etc, but school data fell into odd divisions, making the architecture of the database itself massive, and meaning that any storage technology even on the horizon to use for that data was not big enough. Further, the CPU estimates for organizing, mining, correlating, and being able to generate person specific reporting from it were ridiculous. Many times what even the biggest mainframes on earth could push out. Only a massively distributed data system (each district storing and mining it;s own data) was feasible. Doing this for cars not only increases the data set by 2 orders of magnitude or more, but also adds significant computations complexity. We're 40 or 50 years from being able to have a system capable of live tracking every car.

      What they proposed with this "lottery" system is easy. We get the data, randomly throw a few names in a hat, dump the rest of the data from the buffer, and periodically draw a name. Essentially, you pick a camera and a time, and give a reward to the first person passing it who's doing under the speed limit. no data mining required, no $100B computing system.

      get a grip all you paranoid nuts, even if the government (aka, people like us that we elected) wanted to monitor us this way (which short of conspiracy theories no one has an answer, the data is valueless to everyday government operation), IT CAN NOT BE DONE using technology available even coming down the line 10 years from now, and certainly not with costs that can be hidden. Real time traffic management, yes, its possible. historical association of person, car and route looking for habits and cross association to other people? not possible. Not in 25 years.

      1. Dan 10
        Badgers

        Well...

        Just because it isn't do-able yet, doesn't mean we should give them the data. Bear in mind, that we here in the UK have found ourselves to be living in a country with more surveillance than anywhere else on earth, so it's understandable that people are getting a little uneasy about that.

        Anyway, to your discussion of databases and tech, which I found an interesting read, by the way. Can you not do that yet with a massively-parallel platform, such as the high-end Teradata stuff? Ok, so maybe you couldn't do the sheer volume all on one system, but surely you could have a data repository for each region of the country, then model aggregated cubes from the data that would then be made available to a centralised point for trending etc. You wouldn't have realtime info available for every car, but you could bypass the cubes to interrogate the fact data in each region to retrieve the travel history of a particular vehicle, perhaps? Or, given Police interest in a particular individual, the journeys of a given number plate could be retrieved from the regional operational DBs and pre-summarised via a scheduled job and reported every 24 hours?

        (Caveat: I'm an infrastructure bod currently up to my neck in business intelligence stuff, so I'm no DB specialist, but genuinely interested in your thoughts)

      2. The First Dave Silver badge
        Grenade

        @MichaelC

        "The size of the data-set would have exceeded the IRS database"

        Are you nuts? Can you say that again with a straight face?

      3. Scorchio!!

        Re: um, no.

        "Just because we have data is no indication that we have the CPU power to MINE that data. A look up is one thing, but turning hundreds of millions of disparate data points collected each day into a map noting the pathing of each and every car in the EU, accounting for their travels when the take roads not accommodating speed cameras, track that back to a driver no less (more than one person commonly drives each car), and even then try to use THAT output in some meaningful way?"

        I don't think that you have understood the nature of the Labour beast at all; for more than 40 years the Conservatives and Liberals have attacked them for their vainglorious, ill thought out and expensive projects (especially IT), projects that consume vast amounts of money - even in Labour terms - and eventually have to be scrapped, simply because these utter dimwits didn't have sufficient pre-frontal grey to anticipate the consequences of their silliness; wasted money and failure.

        Politics needs a VM or a sandbox, somewhere in which the alterations to the registry and other bits of the system are not permitted and any temporary changes are junked when the machine is switched off, along with would-be-Neo-Assange and other twerps.

      4. Velv Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        @ Michael C

        Are you a spindoctor for the Black Helicopter brigade?

        "IT CAN NOT BE DONE using technology available even coming down the line 10 years from now, and certainly not with costs that can be hidden"

        Firstly it can, and is, being done. Not 10 years away, but now. The technology is both here and (relatively) affordable to capture massive amounts of data - divide and conquer - clouds.

        As for hiding the cost of a secret sytem - easy - make it public. "We're building a database to reward good drivers. We'll log peoples movements and give prizes to good drivers". All of a sudden you have a funded database that tracks movements. Or just call it "National Security"

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Its not that they can

        But that they want to that is the worrying thing.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        uh hu

        and 640KB of memory is enough for everyone.

  9. M Gale
    Thumb Down

    Better idea.

    Rip the things out.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Not such a good idea...

      They're commercial, not government. They are used to produce information on how jammed up various routes have become. That ultimately turns in to traffic reports on the radio, live traffic data for your sat nav, etc. etc. That is USEFUL.

      I know an engineer who actually worked on the traffic monitoring camera system (i.e. the blue cameras you see by the side of roads, on bridges, etc). It seems that the company had to jump through many many legal hoops to show that their network really did collect just a few digits from each number plate (not the whole thing), and disposed of it properly rather than storing it when the average speed had been calculated, and at no point had enough data to identify individual cars.

      Labour's idea would require a significant change in the data protection laws to permit the cameras to 'see' the whole number plate, and significant technical modifications to the system to allow it to actually generate the vast data set needed for processing in order to deliver the information. And the prizes are probably shite anyway.

      1. Alan Lewis 1

        Ahh, the VRN recognition system :-)

        @bazza I was the IT manager for the company that developed the original character recognition software, for the AA. Most of the developers were under-grads/post-grads, and when it became known that the software was being given to the Police.... the reaction was 'interesting' to say the least. What was funny at the time was being flashed by the trail system, on the M40 - the large black sign at the "south" end flashing "J* *** and the vehicle speed"... :-)

  10. Stephane Mabille
    WTF?

    Car registration?

    Hi,

    I'm I wrong when I remember that average speed cameras not used for speed enforcement (as road work speed restriction area) but for traffic monitoring were not supposed to record full number plates but only the last 4 or 5 digits to be able to average speed but not identify cars? So they are also another source of ANPR?

    1. Mister Cheese
      FAIL

      Yes...

      ...you are wrong. TrafficMaster sensors (the blue cameras) monitor speed by dropping some of the registration-number, but the SPECS cameras (the yellow ones) record the whole registration number for speed-limit enforcement purposes.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: average speed cameras not used for speed enforcement

      I think you are thinking of trafficmaster cameras - http://www.ukspeedcameras.co.uk/guide.htm#Traffic Master

  11. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    A triumph of muddle-headedness

    It is often said that, when in opposition, you are free to think the unthinkable.

    But in cases such as this, the unthinkable should remain unthunk...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flakey tech

    Not sure that these average speed cameras are as accurate as they "man" would have us believe. I suspect they work reasonably ok at lower speeds (probably around a 25% failure rate) but I have been experimenting with them and in a 50 they aren't triggered by driving around 60-65. It appears that a lot of people are becoming wise to how bad the mark 1s are. Maybe the new ones they just released will be better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You could be right.....

      But are you sure it's not your Speedo?

      More to the point, just because the limit is 50, doesn't mean the threshold the camera is working on is 55.

      That said, lets do the maths

      - Camera's 1 mile apart

      - 60 Limit

      If you take >= 1 minute then you're OK.

      If you take 51 seconds (approx) then you're doing 70.

      If you take 45 Seconds you're doing 80

      Maths could be wrong, but seems like fairly simple kit to get right. Assuming of course that the cameras are reliable at picking up and reading number plates!

      Keep in mind that some camera's are fake and/or empty boxes (especially when you get into fixed speed cameras).

      Always wondered if you could force a buffer overflow by forcing the camera to read a stupidly high speed! Could you, for example, drive one car past camera 1 with the reg ABCD 123 and 1 second later have another drive past Camera 2 with the same reg? At what point is the calculated speed too large (the example above would only be 3600 MPH so prob not)

      Horrible yellow things, the only thing worse is the Speed Vans

      1. Dan 10

        Also

        Crossing lanes repeatedly would influence your speed, because you aren't travelling from point A to B in the shortest possible manner.

        Do the sensors also have a laser rangefinder to calculate the distance between the camera and the target vehicle, pass that data to the central computer, and does the central computer take those distances (difference distances to target recorded by each camera) into account in order to calculate speed? If not, that distance would be a large variable in itself.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The tech itself is decidedly un-flaky

      It is simple maths, if you measure the time it takes something to travel a known distance then you can easily calculate the average speed.

      However, there are a good many things that are "flaky", such as your numberplate (could be obscured in some manner), the trigger point for raising a speeding ticket set by the relevant authority (too low and you risk costly court action and a serious loss of public support), your speedometer (check it against your GPS - chances are when it reads 60 you are more likely only actually doing 55-57), the applicable laws (innocent until proven guilty and all that) and finally your driving (just as it is easy to accidentally drift over the speed limit it is easy to drift under).

      [Now, if you travel faster than the limit you are asking for points, and regardless of the reasoning below you could be legally slapped if your speedo shows 1mph over the limit - just to make sure no-one is stupid enough to try out just how fast you can travel through average speed cameras]

      All of these together means that you could probably have a damn good go at travelling at 65 in a 50 without triggering the "man's" cameras - you would probably only be averaging 62-63 on your clock which in reality would probably be more like 57. So given a nice 10% leeway on the cameras with an additional 2-3 mph margin needed to avoid any legal "discussions" it is pretty certain that many of the average cameras are set to trigger at around the 60mph mark anyway.

      Now, you could be correct that the cameras are not reliable, it is certainly possible but on the balance of probabilities it seems unlikely. Or you could be super special and the "man" is letting you off in a kind of weird double bluff to catch everyone else and so narrow the deficit through speeding fines. Or you might be on a motorbike and so immune to average speed cameras through the cunning act of having no forward facing numberplate.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: average cameras

      I don't believe they are triggered the same way as normal speed cameras - you won't see a flash and the first time you'll see an issue is the notification of prosecution in the post.

      I suspect you have been lucky and the average they have indicated is below the threshold set (which is likely to be something greater than 10%+2mph ) some of which will come down to the speedometer in your car being upto 10% fast - so speedo reading of 65 could be real speed of 59 to 65

    4. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Flakey tech

      You may not actually be driving fast enough to trigger the camera.

      The absolute minimum trigger speed for a camera is 10% + 2mph above the speed limit, so on a motorway with a 70mph speed limit, you are safe to drive at 79mph. This avoids any arguments about how accurate the camera's speed measurement is, and bad press about over-zealous enforcement.

      Also the tollerance level for your speedo's accuracy is that it must not show you driving any slower than you actually are, but it can show you as driving up to 10% faster. Typically car manufacturers go for the mid-point and show you driving 5% faster than you actually are. That means that if your speedo is showing 83mph, or possibly up to just under 87mph, you could still be safe.

      Another thing is that speed cameras can be, and often are, set to a higher speed than the minimum permitted. So if your cameras in the 50 mph zone were set to 60 rather than the legal minimum of 57, you might find that you actually aren't driving fast enough to trigger them.

      1. Andrew Macrobie
        Flame

        @jonathanb

        There's no defined minimum trigger speed; some police forces have practiced zero tolerance (1mph over) for a while now (am thinking lincolnshire). I personally got tugged by the SPECS system on the A616 some years go for doing 67mph in a 60. I wasn't particularly amused, but hey ho...

  13. g e

    Or maybe

    just decommission them.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    sounds creepy

    The reward for good behaviour is that the government should leave you the fuck alone.

    I'm sick of the government "rewarding" people with money. Where do you think they got the money from in the first place? They tax you, take a significant cut of it, then give you back maybe 1% of that as a "reward". Does anyone else smell bullshit?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Creepier than you think.

      The government is already gathering far more data than sane or reasonable to make sure you're on your bestest behaviour, all the time. It's far too easy for some enterprising bureaucrat looking for a nicely browned nose to figure out some wrong or other and then fish up plenty of "wrongdoers" from the seas of data, dish out a lot of fines, and present a celebratory report full of glowing words and numbers about this "success" in "combatting crime".

      That is why gathering data without a direct, defendible, and clear reason to use it is a very clear and present no-no. Privacy laws are just about the only defence we have left against this sort of abuse, but since they rely on willing compliance by faceless faraway clerks, very strong defenses they are not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Megaphone

        true

        And the database state is heavily biased towards spotting the kind of crimes nobody cares about.

        It's very easy, it seems, to have a CCTV system automatically issue fines for minor traffic violations; kind of difficult, on the other hand, to build a CCTV system that's actually worth a shit when someone gets raped or killed.

        But wait! I hear you ask; if people are forced to wear a number plate just like cars, then everything will be fine, right? Your government issued IPv6 address can be printed onto your car and onto your forehead so that we always know where you are and what you are doing, no more crime, right? It must follow that total safety is the logical conclusion of total surveillance.

        You could fence off every building and every public space so that the government can run a checkpoint at the entrance and screen people for drugs and weapons. This would have the plus side that you would need a damn good excuse to go anywhere. In general people would only be allowed to work, to the hospital, or back to their own home.

        Homes are the most dangerous places though, as we all know, household accidents are up 500% because terrorists have been importing dangerous products. You burnt yourself on the stove because of terrorists, not because you are an oaf. So for safety reasons you can't have a stove anymore. The government will issue you a daily allowance of soup and bread from a dedicated feeding centre.

        Total control of food means total elimination of obesity. Remember obesity? It used to be the worst thing in the whole wide world. It was just so tragic that some people were fat. But now they're not, and it's all because the state had the courage to do the right thing.

        Now that you are totally safe and no one can hurt you, don’t you feel great?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Presumption of Guilt

      If you reward people for abiding by the law, aren't you showing that you believe we're all law-breakers by default? Don't schemes like this amount to presumption of guilt? Aren't the rewards effectively refunded, automatic fines that you supposedly never realised you'd paid (but you did, through taxes, etc)?

      That, to me, seems to be the inescapable implication of this disgusting idea. And that's before getting onto the inevitable Big Brother database that would be needed to make this work.

      It also sounds like an attempt to copy the Tories' Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Wink stuff about manipulating us in positive, helpful, friendly ways, rather than in more honest, authoritarian ways where they simply threaten us with punishments and penalties.

      And in case anyone's interested, Angela Eagle's identical twin sister is Maria Eagle, who was involved with the extreme and cartoon porn laws.

      Politicians: what a load of nudging winkers!

    3. Scorchio!!
      Thumb Up

      Re: sounds creepy

      I like your choice of phraseology and your language. Labour as a party embraced the neologism 'incentivise'; they took on board a mixture of behavioural psychology and modern commercial practise, except for good fiscal practise. The problem with the Labour party is also that they specialise in silly, expensive and unrealisable projects, whilst revelling in the art of passing silly, inconsequential, interfering legislation.

      These idiots should be kept away from office. Forever. Since the war each time they have left office they have left a gaping hole in our budget and a set of unrealisable projects, or white elephants.

      It's a pity they didn't invest the money in something that mattered, like poverty, paying for the wars they forced the MoD to pay for instead of the normal practise of using the contingency fund... ...no, wait, Iraq should never have happened. Off to the Hague with them, Blair, Brown and Straw. Pity it cannot be Nuremburg with the attendant ultimate penalty. Creeps? Oh yes.

      1. Francis Offord
        Megaphone

        Full agreement

        I recasll, not long after the war, the top income tax rate was put at 39 40ths, nineteen shillings and sixpence in the pound. That was Labour for you, taxation was all important then and remains so today. Perhasps some of those in power at that time, and some are still alive, could please explain why a Top Tax rate of 50% is now so unacceotable to them. If the politicians were made subject to the same laws as the general population and with the same sanctions falling on those who step outside the law we would, perhaps, see some respect for the political classes instead of the general loathing og politicos. I can think of a phrase to describe therm but I would not use it on this page but a single word, despicable, springs to mind when looking at the general behaviour of politicos, or perhaps, disgusting. They would disgrace fully paid up members of the greedy classes whjom they effect to despise. The trouble with Labour is that it doesn't .

  15. a53
    Thumb Down

    Brain Dead

    Good old Labour, always ready, willing and able to find a way of spending other people's hard earned cash!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Road safety is all about numbers

    Don't you people understand? Driving 49 in a 50 limit is perfectly safe, and must be rewarded. Driving at 51 in a 50 limit is dangerous, unacceptable and results in the DEATHS of millions of children every second. People who do such a thing must be punished. The road conditions, your driving style and attentiveness, your car etc etc DON'T MATTER. It doesn't matter that often the only difference between a camera-enforced '50' and an unenforced '70' is the presence of cones on the hard shoulder. The only way to drive safely is to travel at or below a round-number speed decided upon by a transport minister in the 1960s. Nothing else matters.

    Move along, citizen.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Pull the other one, it's got bells on.

    They aren't touting this in order to incentivise good driving.

    This is a very shallow excuse to track everyone's movements and if you didn't see that immediately then you need to look at their track record regarding our civil liberties a little closer.

  18. chris
    FAIL

    Reward for doing what you are supposed to?

    Imagine your boss comes up to you and says: "You punch the clock on time everyday, and for that your get a pay raise."

    Is see no difference here.

    How much will the salary be for the person or persons to go through the "Data" and give the rewards? Nothing wrong at all with adding that to the fiscal budget.

  19. Luther Blissett

    Love nu labour lost (phnarr phnarr)*

    C'mon. The general election is like so last year (almost). It's time to get over it.

    (* not the sound of rug munching)

  20. Pen-y-gors Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Same old control freaks

    New leader, same old stalinist control tendencies - and it's not just a one off. In Scotland they want to tag every bottle of booze sold in an offie so they can use it (in conjunction with CCTV) to trace back who bought it (on the off-chance that they're underage).

    (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12083695 )

    We're doomed! What choice do we have? Evil Tories, Evil Labour or deluded LibDems? Could we please introduce some form of democracy in this country that actually allows the citizens to choose between a number of sane candidates with sensible, practical and workable policies?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You seem to assume sanitity inherent in the system

      If you're a pessimist, you might ever find more amazement about the badness, the illiteracy, and the general low-brow-ness of, well, the people. If you're an optimist, you might never fail to be amazed by how the people manage to get by anyway.

      Paint me a cynic, sir, but I point you to the glaring fact that politicians are people too.

      Worse yet, and I've run out of words, generally not of the kind that actually understands technology, or much of the impact of what they're on about anyway. A sociologist not stuck head-deep in the dark end of politics might do better. Possibly.

      Speaking of sociology: For most of what we do, as in the people, there's a sort of established pattern that allows us to avoid the most eggregious of perviously made errors. Call it culture, if only for the sake of argument. For the cutting edge of technology, and for this discussion "recent developments" is measured in decades or even centuries, such simply does not exist yet. And therefore, neither bureaucrat nor politician actually has a clue what to do about it, which, thanks to the very nature of the critter, makes them want to do as much as possible about it. Sort of like a staunch, fearless, forward, vote-drawing intention to make every mistake possible in the name of whatever the buzzword du jour is, thereby possibly convincingly learning by doing as apparently learning by listening to the experts is, er, just the wrong way around in their book. As amply demonstrated recently.

      There are lots of things inherent in the system, but don't expect sanity among them. It doesn't seem to survive very long at all in that environment. You may have to try and get yourself elected to try and change the system from within, but since you haven't, I presume you treasure your sanity.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    He should work in a nursery for a while

    Here, kids you have behaved well, have a candy. And beware nanny has eyes on her back and if you behave badly she will know.

    This probably says it all.

    There is a number of fundamental difference between adults and toddlers and the biggest one is probably that adults DO NOT NEED TO BE TOLD EVERY MINUTE TO BEHAVE PROPERLY AND BE REWARDED WITH A CANDY IF THEY DO. Becoming _RESPONSIBLE_ is an essential part of growing up and people who fail to understand this difference should not be allowed anywhere near running a country.

    1. Elmer Phud
      Megaphone

      Shhhh

      please don't shout -- this isn't the Daily Mail, thank you.

  22. Chuunen Baka

    Country's favourite illegal activity

    Every time speed camera come up, it generates more heat than light. I can only suppose that the angry folk disagree with the very idea of speed limits and that they should be allowed to whizz around as fast as they like. How come the Daily Mail never gets worked up about drug laws, for example, other than to say they're too lax?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      dunno about you

      But I get worked up about drug laws.

      I want to enjoy a drink while I drive my car excessively fast. Is that so bad?

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge
      FAIL

      Wow, it took till the second page for that one to come up !

      It's not about having no limits and/or driving everywhere as fast as you like.

      It's about having a **sensible** road safety policy where "speed in excess of some arbitrary limit" (which note is very much NOT the same as "inappropriate speed for the situation and conditions") is not elevated waay above the other more significant road safety factors. It's about having a road safety policy where drivers are positively encouraged to think about their driving and take responsibility for it, rather than constantly trying to dumb down driving and take away the very risk assessment and self responsibility that goes hand in hand with safe driving.

      Speed cameras rigidly enforce an arbitrary limit on a minority factor. They detract from road safety overall by suppressing risk assessment and imposing a driving system where "driving to the rules" is considered more important than "driving safely not hitting anything" !

  23. Grahame 2
    Big Brother

    reward?

    They seem to forget that the 'rewards' are taxpayer funded, so are in effect a rebate on a fine already paid by everyone.

    Minus the huge admin costs of course.

  24. Richard Porter
    FAIL

    Bonkers idea.

    Governments are totally obsessed with the numerical value of speed regardless of safety and road conditions and with total blindness to other dangerous driving habits. With a few exceptions speed limits are fixed 24 x 7 x 52, whether it's a hot sunny day or a howling blizzard. They should be set so that to exceed them would be dangerous at any time and not used to tell idiots what speed to drive at. They give all the wrong messages. Saying that it is dangerous to exceed the speed limit implies that it is safe not to, though that may be untrue in either case.

    1. david bates
      Thumb Down

      Indeed...The M42 is a case in point...

      It has variable speed limits. They use it to easy congestion.

      Did they use it a few weeks ago when I was travelling down in the snow at 35-40 (in the middle lane, which was the only one that was really clear) and BMW drivers were still howling down the snowy outside lane?

      Take a guess...

      Im assuming they're controlled by the Highways Agency - the same one that told me if I was tailgated by a lorry when going through a speed-restricted roadworks I should 'take their number and report them'. They failed to explain who would be driving the car while I was doing this...

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Punitive mindset

    Hmmm interesting!

    I, for one, am interested to see if there is any mileage in changing government/state from a punitive mindset into a positive one.

    So, rather than laws about doing things wrong the laws cater for doing things right.

    <still dreaming>

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting idea, and no, bloody hell NO!

    The idea to reward points as well as take them away has a certain appeal. In fact, this idea is something that we might explore for crime as well as holding positions of public trust. For the best redemption is the one you've worked long and hard for to earn. And the kudos you get for holding a position of public trust you ought to lose if you betray that trust, in addition to whatever you did to lose the trust again. But of course, there must be a way to earn them again. Iff we're being pedantic about keeping score, then we might as well go all the way.

    But that doesn't mean that the ANPR cameras and the associated database are suddenly a good idea. They still must go, for the privacy implications alone. And as already mentioned, there are numerous issues like obvious gameability of this proposed scheme. In fact, even if the effect is positive, the use of this data is outside its original (already fantastically overly broad) scope and therefore feature creep, of which we have too much of already.

  27. Herby Silver badge

    26 years late?

    1984 is coming, and if things like this goes through, it just solidifies the prediction.

    The future is here, some not as fast as others, but it is coming!!

  28. JP19

    Blue sky thinking

    From someone who has mostly sky between her ears.

    Read this for a review of what 10 years of Labour did to us....

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/reviewofbooks_article/10030/

    It isn't a question of not wanting to vote for a Labour politician, more a question of wanting to beat them to death with a club. Not that the Condems are very much better and the Tories being so effing useless is one reason we had 10 years of Labour.

  29. StooMonster
    Troll

    They just can't help themselves

    Labour Party solutions to everything involve authoritarian state-monitoring of the individual, and they don't even consider for a second that it might be a bad thing -- after all it has the added benefit of creating public sector non-jobs (e.g. Average Speed Camera monitor and arbitrator or awards to public, prolly with associated quango too).

    They used to say Labour were red (socialist) in tooth and claw, but these days they seem to have the air of Terry Gillliam's Brasil's beaurocratic authoritarian nanny-state rather than red.

  30. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Happy

    Did'nt take NuLabor long to recover it's old confidence

    In the belief that a big enough database assisting in cradle-to-grave surveillance was *always* the right answer to a problem.

    Almost as good as Ms Perry's "Age certify all internet sites"*

    *Except Perry is part of the coalition and has the ear of a Minister where as this idea is for an effort to prove she is doing "something," whatever that something is.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      The reason for the smile.

      Is *not* because I approve this idea.

      It's my *amusement* at how soon the Blairite tendency would return to their *favorite* things (large intrusive databases to "solve" a problem they perceive).

      The serious beating Labor took at the last election did not hit *some* of them hard enough with the clue stick to think that *maybe* they ought to review their policies.

      What's odd is that they should be less exposed to the kind of senior civil servants who "advice" Ministers on what a *good* thing this sort of idea is. So *maybe* she is capable of independent thought. It's just she believes that this is a *good* idea on her own.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A question of purpose.

    If they are to enforce speed limits then use them for that. If they are to collect data then use them for that. If they are for rewarding safe driving them use them for that.

    Don't come round here and say 'We have this unpopular ineffective box that we need to justify the use of. Let's think of some wizzo bolloxs to try and convince that this wolf is actually a nice sheep that we should really love it and let it reward us for being good little subjects!"

    It is this abuse of technology that gets technology - well or poorly applied - a bad name!

  32. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    Eagle's ideas [...] do not address such privacy criticisms

    So, absolutely no change there, then.

  33. ZiggyZiggy
    WTF?

    Rewards for using the car then?

    So this would be technically encouraging us to use the car more... at a time when they are all trying to push us away from it and on to public transport to save the world - or something like that

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Could do what we do on this side of the pond...

    Use a baseball bat or a shotgun on the damn thing. Problem solved. After 2 or 3 expensive cameras are trashed and they can't catch anyone, they stop trying.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Haven't got a shotgun

      Can't reach a camera 10 foot in the air with a baseball bat!

      Fixed ones are OK to reach, and there's a group who used to (they still at it?) give the fixed cameras a tyre necklace and then light the petrol they'd accidentally spilt all over it!

  35. Colin Millar
    FAIL

    - "might make people understand "

    People understand speed cameras perfectly - its just that some people don't like them. What eagle wants is for people to understand her need to be a control freak and to agree with her when she insists that she knows what is best for you.

    What is it about politicians that they don't understand how human beings work?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Semi-conscious

    "Conscious that her party was perceived as anti-motorist when in government, Angela Eagle suggested such uses for the cameras"

    ---------------

    But somehow she was *not* conscious of the fact that the last Labour government was perceived by many as the most pernicious, liberty-hating, privacy-invading, surveillance obsessed, Orwellian megalomaniacs that we've ever had the misfortune to have running this country.

  37. Ally J
    FAIL

    Aaargh! Fnckwits!

    They truly have no idea, do they? Stick all the names in a hat and there's a chance you could win a prize? This from a party who managed to create so many new crimes there's probably as much of a chance for you to get nicked for something as there would be to win a prize. So stupid it hurts to even think about it.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    The Most Dangerous Drivers Are...........

    Morons who do not indicate, usually they are the most speed observant drivers. Maybe they are so paranoid about looking at the speedometer all other driving skills are abandoned.

    A vast majority of crashes are caused by bad driving and not speed

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bad habits

      I thought not indicating was the latest fashion? It certainly is in these parts - sitting on your footbrake for long periods and dazzling the poor sod behind you, that's now standard practice. Going around with headlights out or not on, and one foglight - yeah that's about right too.

      Not bothering to indicate and wondering why cars or pedestrians are in your way.. yeah I'll give it 6 months before that's standard practice.

      Make periodic driving retests compulsory, or even make insurance discounts for an up-to-date advanced driving certificate more substantial than they are now.. oh hang on, common sense spotted. Move along, there's nothing to see here...

  39. HollyHopDrive
    Coat

    Just one minor flaw in an otherwise brilliant plan

    A couple own and share a car. Mr A drives it very carefully and Mrs A has a lot of points and generally speeds and drives fast.

    How does Mr A win the lottery?

    Oh, that would need a tag per person, oh, and that would also conveniently mean that all that monitoring could be linked to road charges per mile, and reduced tax for those who only drive 4000 miles a year, screwing anybody who can't afford to live in a big city near their work anymore because of stupid house prices that were allowed to get beyond a joke, meaning moving to the sticks was the only answer to actually affording a home big enough to accomodate their family needs.

    Looks like new new labour may be old new labour with a refreshed spin doctor who has had his thinking cap on during his period of being out of work.

    Right load of bollocks, and I'll only [help] vote those bastards back in once all tories / lib dems / greens / monster raving party have all died and its them or the BNP. i.e. Never.

    Rant over, I'll get my coat.

  40. Mike Richards

    Ah New Labour - it's like you've never been away

    It's taken them a few months, but credit to New Labour for coming up with another incredibly intrusive scheme for obtaining information from perfectly innocent people.

    Next - CCTV camera records to be analysed to reward people who don't walk on the cracks in the pavement.

  41. CmdrX3
    FAIL

    Un Effing Believable

    Which fucked up muppet comes up with these stupid ideas. Another ridiculous notion to try and buy back votes.

    The only reward people should be getting for driving carefully is having less chance of causing a fatal accident and no penalty points. Adults are not children... they should not be getting rewarded for good behaviour, it should simply be expected of them.

  42. PJ 1

    Already done (sort of)

    Probably the best way to do this would be to get insurers to base their risk assessment of a driver on his/her behaviour. Drive more safely, get cheaper insurance. Turns out the insurance companies think so too:

    http://ezinearticles.com/?Auto-Insurers-Vehicle-Electronic-Tracking-Device-Can-Discount-Your-Car-Insurance-Premiums&id=344980

    There has also been recent discussion about such a device in the uk. A chap I knew a few years ago was trialling one too.

    Frankly the whole big brother thing sounds like a multi million IT fail waiting to happen.

  43. Rogerborg
    Big Brother

    nuLabour thinking in the raw

    From the the crowd that made "cockholster" a lucrative career path and gave prisoners X boxen in return for not stabbing each other too often.

    So having introduced so many laws that everyone is guilty of something, the idea is to arbitrarily reward a token number of random people who didn't get caught breaking one law at one specific point in time? Presumably irrespective of their past or future behaviour.

    You know, I think even Orwell would have a hard time satirising that, but I'd love to see him try.

  44. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face
    Grenade

    Patronising Bastards

    Why don't they just fcuk off and leave us alone?

  45. Starkadder
    WTF?

    Get Lost

    The intrusive and invasive ANPR system operated by the ACPO is of doubtful legality. Our main concern should be closing it down, not using it to spy on people even more. Eagle has completely lost the plot.

  46. system11
    Stop

    Sigh

    They still don't get it, if they want to be less hated then just LEAVE US ALONE! Enough of this bullshit, turn road policing back into an attempt to stop genuinely dangerous drivers rather than persecute anyone who drifts a couple of miles over the limit. Inappropriate speed is the danger, someone travelling at 80 on a deserted dual carriageway at 11pm isn't going to hurt anyone, most of the downright terrifying driving I see happens well within the limits, and in fact may even be made worse by artificially low ones.

    I'd like to see them look at tailgating - I'd estimate I get tailgated at least once every journey I make, especially when I'm sticking to the limit for fear of points in areas that are obviously rated lower than they should be.

    It's usually Audi drivers.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wow

    I am so happy that these people are not in power any more.

    The Tories wont go for this purely on the basis that it involves giving money away as opposed to taking it.

    What strikes me most is that Labour still dont seem to acknowledge that we have a problem with their data gathering idea's. The public trust in government is simply not high enough for us to accept that they hold that kind of data on us, which as Ally J points out above;

    "This from a party who managed to create so many new crimes there's probably as much of a chance for you to get nicked for something as there would be to win a prize"

  48. Shez
    FAIL

    Speed is the answer

    It seems that Labour (and many other motoring organisations) have overlooked the fact good driving is not all about speed. If they honestly believe that they can determine a good driver based purely on the speed they travel through a known monitoring point then they're wrong. Driving is a complex skill and any reward for good driving should take all elements of that into account.

    I assume they only plan to reward drivers who not only stay within the speed limits, but those who use the inside lane, and who ensure they indicate correctly when pulling out to overtake before returning to the inside, and observe a suitable gap between themselves and the car infront, and keep their car in good working order (will the camera's check for broken lights even if they're not switched on, or deduct points for using fog lights unnecessarily), and who haven't just slowed down to pass through the monitored area, need I continue?

  49. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    A number of points

    So she's paid about 65k a year to come up with something like this - I'm definitely in the wrong job.

    Just what is she on because I need something for tonight.

    Besides telling us that we are being good boys and girls, just what "IS" the purpose of this system, how much will it cost and how much will it cost to maintain?

    Does she have shares (or a directorship) in a "camera" company?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Insurance

    Maybe this idea should be done by insurance companies, reducing your annual policy....

  51. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Can't even do opposition properly can they?

    Went back to your source and - shame on El Reg - it's Maria Eagle who's to blame for this twaddle, not twin sister Angela.

    I just needed to check the veracity of:

    "I have seen lately this idea actually if you were to use the information you get from them to have a lottery, have a draw of those who drive under the speed limit,” she said.

    Please tell us who's great idea this is, Maria... and then just stop listening to them. [Need to work on the grammar too.]

    The most obvious fact is that this requires even more widespread and diligent surveillance. The virtuous won't get their rewards anyway as their details won't get logged or processed correctly/at all. The opposition with the stupid ideas stays in opposition.

    It's a lose lose win situation.

    Not that you asked, but I think average speed cameras work quite well, and if deployed selectively to protect roadside workers, improve safety in narrow lanes, maintain better/more consistent throughput on the M25 etc. then they have my (qualified) support.

    Glad I don't have to share this country with tony trolle. Left the country because of speed cameras (and only just remembered)? Sounds like a right wanker.

  52. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Stupid stupid stupid, no wonder a Tory paper told us this

    Rewarding people for good driving is encouraging them to use cars, which isn't what we need in the twenty-first century. As has been mentioned, the scope for fraud is considerable. And as also has been mentioned, some good drivers don't have any road cameras near them.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    A job for Lord Sugar

    Yet another stupid idea from the stupid idea party. If they wanted to show that speed cameras were for safety and not a nice little earner, just replace fining people with a ban varying from a few days to a few weeks depending on severity. Rewarding people for abiding by the law is ludicrous. What next? Cash incentives for not robbing a bank? M&S vouchers for not shoplifting?

    And Lord Sugar? To tell her she's fired.

  54. Anonymous John
    Unhappy

    Hmm.

    1 DVLA letter worth three negative point arrives, and asks who was driving.

    2) Both husband and wife already have nine points, so both claim they were.

    3) Police investigate and charge both with perverting the course of justice.

  55. Scorchio!!
    FAIL

    Orwell

    This is just another variation on Labour's Orwell habit. Orwell gave his characters the five minute hate, thereby technically allowing a massive release of a concoction of reward associated chemicals, Labour give us the reward points scheme, much like a supermarket loyalty scheme.

    Last night I drove on a significant part of the M25 - much of which has been and will be modernised - and was horrified as I did a camera count. The state can now monitor the passing of a vehicle for long distances. Sure, Labour can say this might be useful for tracking terrorists but, in their naiveté they don't allow for the abuses that can take place - as did with RIPA, and councils spying on parents applying for school places - and assume that their (supposedly) honest intentions will not be usurped by some maleficent government.

    Then there is the use of cameras disguised as discarded coke cans and the like, admittedly for what seem like the justified and reasonable purpose of monitoring fly tipping, which means that some hypothetical future Winston would not be able to clandestinely meet his Julia in the countryside for a loving tryst. If he did he truly would be 'the dead'.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    No problem I think

    Maybe I can beat them with their own methods...

    I object to gambling on (ahem) religious grounds, so being involuntarily entered in a raffle would violate my human rights.

    Get out of that one, losers!

  57. Roger Mew
    Stop

    Stupid labour twits

    Is not this what labour are all about wasting money, this would cost millions to run. Better off giving a bloke a job cutting them all down. The dangerous drivers will not get picked up either way. For example, a car is 10' off my rear end at 65 MPH. What gets that! Oh by the way its number plate was on the bonnet it read POL1CE.

    Ditto I reported a car doing between 110 and 120 on a 60 road, again it was filth. The first car caught on the M4 speeding in fog some 35 years ago by a monitoring camera was a TVP police car, and in fact it was out of area, should not have been there and was only vehicle recorded driving faster than visible allowable speed.

    Yes I know, set a crook to catch a crook. If speed limits were more sensible then people would not be tempted to go faster.

    Oh latest, as more cars are electric, and new tyres quieter speeds will have to be reduced as people cannot hear them coming. I have approached Toyota as one manufacturer and suggested buzzers as they now have to fit in Japan, but the UK's continued response is just to reduce the speed limit. Is it not time we had a man walking in front with a red flag? Oh sorry weve done that.

  58. Sceptical Bastard
    FAIL

    Epic fail

    Ludicrous illiberal unworkable 'ideas' like that remind us why we gave that bunch of lame freaks the boot. Trouble is, we then elected another bunch of lame freaks.

  59. T J
    Big Brother

    Please, please save yourselves for the rest of us!!

    Please UK, please save yourselves!! We foreigners want to actually start visiting again one day after the telescreens and thoughtpols have been removed!!

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Rewarding slow drivers

    So we're now suggesting that deliberately slowing down limit minus 5, 10, 15, 20mph, is to be rewarded?

    I'll be the one watching the dangerous overtakes and rear-end shunts from the back of the queue...

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