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Variable speed limits cost motorists £526m in fines since 2013

Date: 16 May 2017   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

UK motorists have been caught out by variable speed limit cameras to the tune of millions of pounds, new figures have revealed.

According to data obtained by comparison website under the Freedom of Information Act, 210,538 fines have been issued after drivers have been recorded speeding by 'smart' motorway cameras since 2013, earning the Treasury up to £526m in fines.

Variable speed cameras are used on motorways to enforce temporary speed limits to reduce congestion or to improve road safety.

According to the data received by, cameras located on the M4 between J19 and 20 have collected the most fines - 40,320 - followed by those on the M5 between J16 and 17 (27,398) and J10 and 11 on the M1 (21,751). found 2,840 accidents were recorded in variable speed camera zones across the UK since the first cameras were installed in 2013, leading the price comparison website to question if the sudden changes in speed these zones often promote - limits can drop down to 20mph - is impacting driver safety.

Its research found that 32% of the motorists it questioned have had an accident, near miss or knows someone who has had an accident in a zone.

However, just 10% of those surveyed knew the speed limit can be cut to 20mph in the zones.

"There seems to be a perception among drivers that variable speed cameras on smart motorways are there to catch people out, and it's no surprise with up to £526m in fines issued," said Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at "We'd also advise drivers to research their route before heading out to take note of any areas where there may be a dramatic drop in speed. Keeping a considerable distance between your own car and the car in front can also help to avoid any sudden braking."