Motorways should have high speed limits enforced by camera

Morning View
Morning View

Painful though it is for some motoring activists to accept, speed cameras have played a key role in cutting road deaths around the world.

In Northern Ireland, there has been a long-term reduction in road fatalities, which has been masked by last year’s rise in deaths.

A total of 79 people were killed, which was a sharp rise on the 56 fatalities in 2013, which was itself a rise on 2012, the safest ever year.

But in fact all of these years were exceptionally safe by historical standards. In each of the years prior to 2010, more than 100 people died each year on the Province’s roads. In most years from the 1960s to the 1980s, more than 200 people died.

The remarkable progress in road safety is in line with the rest of the UK, and is attributable to multiple factors including seat belt laws, drink driving laws and better designed cars.

But there is no question that motorists are now more aware of speed than they were 20 years ago, due to the increase in enforcement and other factors such as the speed awareness course that has now been taken by thousands of motorists.

The dangerous Bangor to Belfast road was once a route on which motorists routinely flouted speed limits, where there is now widespread adherence due to average speed cameras.

In England, there is current controversy over a proposal permanently to switch on speed cameras on the M1 as a way of raising funds for Bedfordshire Police force.

This might seem unpalatable, but the idea of permanent speed cameras on motorways is not unreasonable, even if a debate is to be had as to where cash raised from fines is spent.

In return for such enforcement by cameras (which spare police manpower), there is an argument that motorists should be allowed an 80mph limit on motorways, our safest roads.

It is better to have a strictly enforced 80mph limit than a haphazardly enforced 70mph one, as has prevailed in England in which some motorists are fined travelling in the low 70s and others escape fines driving in the lows 80s.