‘Stealth’ cameras may have to be repainted and signposted

Monday, February 9, 2015 - 13:00
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One stealth camera seen on the M25

Road minister orders urgent review of ‘stealth’ speed cameras on Britain’s motorways

John Hayes, the roads minister, has ordered the Highways Agency to review both the colour and signposting of the camers, which are grey rather than the highly visible yellow cameras seen around roadworks.

As previously reported on FleetPoint, the cameras have already been deployed along stretches of ‘smart motorways’ to enforce variable speed limits when the hard shoulder is used as an additional lane at peak times.

The camera is able to cover all lanes of the motorway and can take rapid pictures of the offending vehicle unlike the current set-up which includes two cameras to catch a speeding car entering and leaving the zone and is unable to cover more than one lane.

More than 600 motorists have been caught speeding since the cameras were deployed on the M25 in Kent in October.

In an article that appeared in today’s edition of The Telegraph, Mr Hayes said: “I have been concerned about ‘stealth cameras’ and have ordered a review as a matter of priority to look at exactly where they are, what they are being used for and how they are signed. That includes the colour of them.

“It seems to me that it is important that they are identifiable. At the moment as you know people assume that speed cameras are painted yellow. I think it’s really important that people know where speed caqmeras are. The suggesttion that stealth is involved is not reasonable.”

Also in the article, Ed King, President of the AA, stated: “Motorways are our safest roads, are we going over the top when really we should be concentrating on where the majority of accidents happen which is actually on rural roads and lower speed roads.”

Do you see the stealth camera as a help or a hindrance? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. The 70mph limit was set back in the 1960’s after an AC Cobtra was clocked doing 150mph on a stretch of the M1. The limit is in my opinion way out of date, car technology has moved on in leaps and bounds, the stopping distances have halved since the 60’s and car safety is way beyond what it was. I fell comfortable at 75 on a motorway and I am not endorcing those drivers who sit in the outside lane bullying people out of the way so that they can maintain 90mph plus but lets get realistic about this. If the Motorways are the safest roads in Britain, why are they plastered with speed cameras? The government views the average motorist as a piggy bank to raise funds for the government coffers to use elsewhere and this is the ONLY reason for this practice. If they are going to raise money in this unfair manner it is time it was used where it is really needed fixing the appalling state of a large number of roads that would shame third world countries.

  2. We all know the truth, which is that bad drivers (in terms of ability, observation, forward planning and indeed damn-awful obtuse or aggressive attitude) are the real causes of most collisions.

    I can’t be the only one who knows of a driver who you’d be perfectly happy and relaxed to be a passenger with at speeds up to (say) 100mph – simply as you know that they will exercise good judgement and drive according to the prevailing conditions.

    We also know of many that we would not wish to be a passenger with under any circumstances, simply because they are a terrible driver, no matter what speed they drive at.

    Removing the truly dangerous (who we all know are largely the ones who drive slowly, not fast) though would need actual investment of time and resources, as well as courts – in short it’d be a large COST.

    Scamera’s (yes I use that spelling deliberately, for that is what they are) are in contrast an EARNER. They may not DO anything remotely positive enough in road safety terms to justify their deployment, but they MAKE money rather than COST money.

    In these times where the UK has a massive deficit and so we cannot expect to spend money wherever we want, then I can understand that the Government cannot afford to implement measures to remove the real menaces from behind a wheel and onto public Transport.

    However, the use of Scamera Technology to fleece us instead is a disgusting and underhanded misuse of power.

    ‘Safety Camera Partnerships’ now have way too much influence. They now lobby Government and The Public through the Press as though they ARE a Government Body (& therefore acting in our best interests), when the reality is they are Businesses operating for Profit.

    My local paper recently ran an article where ‘Go Safe’ where campaigning for night-time camera vans to operate in the local area. The paper ran the article with no journalistic questioning – at no time did the paper ask the Go Safe spokesperson if Go Safe stood to open a new revenue stream by persecuting motorists in the dead of night as well as during the day.

    Also last weekend, A Scamera Van was operating in torrential rain in Mid Glamorgan area. I understood that they should not be used in rain, as the rain distorts the beam and the readings can be inaccurate? So why was this Scamera deployed?

    (As you can tell) I find the hypocrisy and sharp practice of Scamera use to be deplorable and intolerable. Calling them “Safety Camera’s” is a blatant misrepresentation of what they really are, and its high time that their misuse was stopped.

  3. Has every one forgotten that the 70mph speed limit was never introduced for safety….Barabara Castle brought it in to conserve fuel during the oil crisis! DOT statistics show that most accidents happen within the speed limit with people driving too fast for the conditions , something which speed cameras cannot stop..
    One final thought..company car drivers are responsible for around 40% of all accidents..ban them says everybody…..however company vehicles represent 70% of all on road vehicles..which means the 30% of all owner drivers are responsible for the majority of all accidents and as such are by far and away the biggest hazard on the road….

    • That’s not true Ian, she introduced the 70mph limit in 1967 and reduced it to 50mph as a result of the oil crisis in 1973

  4. Stealth camera’s don’t slow drivers down, as they cannot see the camera in the first place.
    Stealth camera’s are revenue raisers, pure and simple.Driver’s will not slow down until they see the camera,simple.

  5. Cameras for speeding in areas where accidents have been proven to be numerous can do nothing but benefit the motorist and penalise those who choose to ignore speed limits.
    There are however many related issues;
    Smart motorways–these are inanimate stretches of tarmac. The “smart” is supposedly introduced by an unknown specialist remote from the site guided one assumes by the assistance of cameras situated somewhere in the vicinity of the stretch of motorway being restricted.
    My experience to date comprises numerous 40 mph restrictions on stretches incorporating hard shoulders to ease the weight of traffic when the volume of traffic for many many miles in the affected area has amounted to no more than 6-8 vehicles in sight in the direction of travel.
    This would appear to be a fund raising exercise with no thought at all for congestion avoidance or safety. Where are the notifications of to whom one must complain in these regular circumstances or are we obliged to put up with yet another faceless and mindless enforcement agency .
    A recent TV programme clearly illustrated the hugely outdated stopping dimensions to which we are asked to adhere and these one assumes are key to the calculation of a speed limit which must be appropriate to 2015.
    In those hugely dangerous areas where a 3 lane motorway is festooned with as many as 3 traffic cones on the hard shoulder or even on the adjoining grass verge, where is the police enforcement when vehicles race past at 80-100 mph on a regular basis? Naturally nowhere to be seen!!!
    PS.–Love the intelligence test of 8-?=5. Does this provide some form of filter to those wishing to pass comment?

    • Barry – Thank you for your comments. A lot of intelligent and measured analysis here. As for the little equation, it’s just so we know you’re human and not a spam bot 🙂

  6. Actually, there’s cynical and deliberate move to camouflage Scamera’s positioned allegedly for ‘safety’ too. Yes they are still yellow, but the ones put up in the last couple of years use a muted dull flat Yellow instead of a high visibility reflective yellow of the older boxy Gatso’s.

    They are far less visible in daylight, and are really hard to spot (even if you know its there and are looking for it) in the dark. Particularly under Sodium street lighting they fade into the background to be practically invisible from the vehicle.

    This is a DELIBERATE change, as the colour, shade and absorbtion of (rather than lack of reflection) of light is so effective it cannot be coincidental.

    This implies a cynical profit-through-penalty mentality, where road safety and lives are cast aside so that they camera can hide and thus ‘catch’ more offenders.

    In other words, to hell with the safety, lets NOT slow them down before the (say) iffy crossroads or junction, with a Hi-Viz warning – let the driver execute the unsafe speed and risk lives, and THEN punish him after the event!

    All the evidence is out there to say that Camera’s are being ‘sold’ on the back of saving lives and increasing road safety (which actually they do not achieve anyway) while in truth they are set-up to permit and tacitly encourage the offence, just so that they can catch the offender.

    The thing is… getting the driver to slow to a safe speed BEFORE the high risk area is far safer – BUT DOESN’T EARN MONEY OFF THAT MOTORIST, whereas catching the driver when its too late DOES.

    There is no other rational explanation nor justification for the strategies and methods that are employed using these Camera’s.

    ‘Safety Camera Partnerships’ lobby using the safety of persons as the justification for their highly profitable activities – so we are meant to take it on the chin – they are trying to make it socially unacceptable to criticise their deployment and use. The reality is that ‘safety’ is a nice socially acceptable smokescreen so that they can make an awful lot of revenue with no real safety motive nor any solid deliverable safety gains.

    I just wish a heck of a lot more people would actually catch on that its nothing more than a legalised highway robbery con.

  7. Don’t forget these cameras were installed with the purpose of regulating the variable speed limits. Their deployment was on the condition that they would only operate when the motorways are being ‘smart’ to encourage a constant flow of traffic and enforce the variable limits.

    We can debate whether speed or bad driving kills endlessly, however a major issue remains that these cameras are capturing speeding motorists outside of these parameters – a camera that had been installed to enhance safety in areas of high accident rates (a long-forgotten requirement for camera sitings) would have had to have been clearly marked, a requirement that has been sidestepped in this instance. Are there legal implications here?

  8. Just another avenue for the government to tax the already over taxed.
    How many times do you come across someone on a motorway who is driving at 50mph. And i don`t mean a lorry!
    These people in my opinion are more of a danger than someone who is doing 80mph when the traffic conditions allow it.
    The sooner we have a change of Government the better and i am not bothered about anyone who comments on this. Freedom of speech i believe is allowed in the uk or just about these days anyway.

  9. Graham said it all and more. Great comment.

  10. The ‘holier than thou’s’ who simply say ‘don’t speed’ are clearly not experienced drivers on our roads. The vast majority of people are safe and sensible drivers – the ‘bad’ ones are often incompetent, ignorant and/or inconsiderate and generally speed isn’t a factor in those either.

    Human nature means we internally assess risk and tend to drive according to the conditions – the ever increasing ‘war on speed’ is now resulting in many roads having decreased limits, and limits that are only really relevant at peak traffic times. This places the legal limit way below most drivers inherent inbuilt ‘safe’ speed. This in turn forces drivers to focus more on the speedometer, and to travel consciously slower than their own internal speedometer would have them do (or they’ll break the posted limit). This has to result in more drivers inadvertently drifting over posted limits, and then falling prey to these stealth tactics. I view the moves towards lower and lower limits, and greater and greater use of cameras to ‘enforce’ as a cynical stealth tax on motorists – there are far more effective ways to improve road safety (but none so lucrative – offering the biggest financial return for the least effort!).

    Surely if the true aim is less incidents, then the camera’s SHOULD be super-visible, so that motorists are alerted and so enter the ‘dangerous area’ at the speed at which the powers-that-be deem safe, and thus improve safety (but decrease revenue)? There’s the rub – make road safety actually WORK and you save lives, but eliminate REVENUE. Right now the evidence suggests that road safety is taking a very poor back seat to revenue, and the biggest ambassadors for cameras are those running them FOR PROFIT! We should NOT forget nor underestimate that when wondering why things are as they are.

    Its way past time that we stopped believing blindly the mantra that ‘Speed Kills’. Speed can be a ‘factor’ in incidents, but then can a lot of things – speed isn’t in itself a cause. ‘Bad Driving’ kills, and this includes inappropriate speed (too fast or too slow) as well as hundreds of other contributory factors. If ‘speed kills’ was true, then the motorway would be the most dangerous road to be on – it is the safest by a HUGE margin.

    Sanctimonious and ill-informed people like some of the earlier posters really ought to THINK a little more about what the propaganda says and what the true situation IS – all the evidence is there to show that they aren’t one and the same.

  11. Why can’t drivers just keep to the speed limits. My experience is that some drivers are far too aggressive and ignorant of other road users, they just have to be there first regardless of the risks and inconvenience to other road users. Driver education and changing attitudes is the way forward.
    Thank you.

  12. I think most of the public see speed control cameras as just another money making idea, very few of the cameras are actually in high accident areas. If the powers to be had actually placed cameras on the roads to catch poor driving and dangerous drivers the cameras would by now be welcomed by the public (the powers to be not making as much money though ?). 100 MPH on a empty motor way at say 0300 hours is safe @ 1500 hours in fog and heavy traffic, the safe speed maybe 30MPH and there is what we should be looking at.

  13. Neil, how is that “underhanded entrapment”? Entrapment is when they encourage you to break a law you wouldn’t normally have broken. This is not at all what they are doing. Dave has it right – if you speed, you are breaking the law and endangering lives. Complaints that they didn’t know a camera was there is equivalent to the “it’s not illegal if they’re not watching” logic, which is completely ridiculous.

    I’ve yet to see a single argument as to why it matters whether you can see there is a speed camera there that does not link to “I don’t want to be seen breaking the law”. If you don’t speed, you won’t get caught. It really is as simple as that.

  14. Why is the minister not concerned with the 600 people committing a crime?

    1. If people didn’t speed there would be no justification as to the cost.

    2. Is the minister complicit in trying to help the criminal speeders evade capture by having them cameras painted?

    • I think the problem is more with the underhanded entrapment nature of them. Painting the cameras won’t help anyone evade capture, it’s simply a common courtesy to inform you that they’re there and you are being monitored…like every other speed camera

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