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Survey reveals backing for long-range enforcement cameras following trial

Date: 21 February 2019   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Long-range cameras that have been trialled by the police to catch motoring offenders have widespread support, according to the RAC.

The motoring organisation says it surveyed more than 2,000 motorists, following a Gloucestershire Constabulary trial of a camera that can catch drivers who speed, tailgate, use handheld mobile phones or don't wear seatbelts from up to 1km away.

It found that 59% were in favour of the camera being widely used, while only 28% were against. 

The most popular benefit of the camera's possible introduction was given as more effective handheld mobile phone law enforcement. 

Of those surveyed, 71% said they thought the camera would make UK roads safer, while 50% believed it would lead to an increase in drivers being caught speeding. 

Of those who were against the camera, the most popular reason given was the absence of visible deterrence, as opposed to conventional speed camera vans and police officers with handheld cameras.

RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: "While speed enforcement can split driver opinion, the findings of our survey show widespread support for the new long lens of the law. 

"This is perhaps because drivers are used to speeding being enforced by a variety of means, and are frustrated a similar focus is not employed to catch those they regularly see committing other motoring offences.

"Although this new long-range camera could be used to enforce illegal mobile phone use or tailgating, it's primary use will no doubt be to catch speeding drivers, if indeed it becomes more widely used by forces. 

"Some drivers will inevitably end up being very surprised when a notice of intended prosecution letter arrives on their doormat when they felt they had managed to slow down enough after spotting a police car in the distance."

Williams said long-range cameras may bring some speeding-related safety benefits that conventional cameras do not. 

He said: "Fixed, single location cameras at accident blackspots are effective road safety tools and average speed cameras are good at controlling speeds over longer stretches. But as both are visible deterrents it could be argued they don't have as powerful a long-term effect on drivers' behaviour as the fear of being caught by a long-range speed camera on a motorway or straight country road would.

"On the other hand, those that were against the use of these cameras claimed the lack of a visual deterrent was reason enough for them not to be employed by all UK police forces. 

"However, with dramatically fewer road police officers on patrol these days, enforcement of multiple motoring offences via long-range camera could be seen as a more efficient use of police time, and something that is clearly very much welcomed by drivers who don't break the law in these ways."