RESEARCH - The Effectiveness of Speed Cameras

RAC Foundation LogoLove 'em or hate 'em, speed enforcement cameras save lives. This review of the evidence of the British experience with speed camera enforcement shows that camera use results in a substantial improvement in compliance with speed limits, a particular reduction in extreme speeding, a marked reduction in average speed at fixed sites and an appreciable, though more modest, reduction at mobile sites.

The report states that:

the judgement can be made that in the year ending March 2004, camera operations at more than 4,000 sites across Great Britain prevented some 3,600 personal injury collisions, saving around 1,000 people from being killed or seriously injured.

If British Columbia intends to reach its Vision Zero goal for 2020 speed enforcement by police and voluntary compliance by drivers will not be sufficient as that is the current status quo to be improved on. Automated enforcement has a place and should be part of the political will if we truly intend to reach the goal.


Otherwise the automated "enforcement" will remain a revenue tool primarily, with no "safety" accountability - other than the usual re-hypothicated statistical mumbo-jumbo.

If automated enforcement is so great for safety - how come there are more tickets issued over time in areas that have those systems installed?
(Shouldn't the revenue dry-up completely once everyone is so safe thanks to the automated enforcement?)

If automated enforcement is not about money - how come there are changes done to light's timing to increase revenue while increasing rear-end accidents?
(Isn't the point to prevent accidents?)

If automated enforcement is good for us - how come there are thousands of people in small town all over the US living way beyond poverty lines owing hundreds of dollars for automated tickets - going in and out of jails - because their $80 ticket grew into a $1000 debt?
(Isn't the point to make everyone happy and prosperous by removing the road-death-toll?)

The unpreventable deeds of the few (drunk, underage, racers) are used as an excuse to criminalize the many (85% driving over the posted limit).
This is not safety, this is slavery.

P.S. Do not believe the "prevented X number of collisions" for a second - stating that is just as valid as me saying that my prayers have prevented this planet from cracking open again and again.

Links to information (especially if they are from BC) would be greatly appreciated to bolster your point of view.

In general, "prevented X number of collisions" is a comparison to what the trend was before implementation to what happened after implementation. It will always be hypothetical because it is not possible to measure what doesn't happen. It can be a reasonable indication of whether something is effective or not if done carefully.

I've saved the best for last, your subject line. It's simple to say, but needs an alternative. What type of penalty would you impose instead of $ and why?

In reply to by DriveSmartBC

Why a penalty at all? Penalty/punishment/negative reinforcement are not the panacea to a responsible society.

The only safety oriented action in response to an unsafe action while driving is the removal of the offender from the decision-making role while on the road. But not the kind of removal where your license is taken and you continue to drive - the kind that stops your car from starting and sends an Uber/Taxi driver to pick you up every morning to go to work. Thats where I see honest road safety in the future.

I suppose it will start from in-car tutorials / suggestions / monitoring (i.e. "You seemed to have taken this corner a little too fast", "That was not a full stop", etc).

It will move in to "You have 10 points left on your license" part after a trial period.

You are given a point for every kilometer driven and some are taken for every "questionable" action. If the ratio of kilometers to points falls below a certain threshold - you must take Uber for the rest of the month. Some actions are "grave" - license is invalidated on the spot - park your car - call someone with a valid license.

While the type of system I describe may seem like an Orwelian hell, I believe that if monetary penalties were out of the picture, and everyone is judged by a machine in-context of each questionable action (with a safe suggestion added to each case), and there are working alternatives to transportation - then roads will be safe.

Otherwise its all emotional arguments and shuffled statistics, while budgets are bloated from extra money that naturally leads to more creative ways to make money and the safety aspect gets ultimately lost in the process. There should not be hypothetical statistics or what-ifs used to take real money away from people.

Saying "driving is a privilege, not a right" is under-developed. Make driving a true privilege - not a necessity that it currently is. I also think that providing alternative affordable means of personal transportation will remove those who do not wish to operate motor vehicles on their own and in-turn that will make roads a little more safe.


Automated enforcement numbers going up (not down):…
Yellow lights:…
Traffic ticket to prison

I always scratch my head at speeders that try and claim speed cameras are a supposed "cash grab" instead of taking responsibility for their reckless/dangerous speeding that is a proven fact in causing injury & death. I find their attitudes not only selfish at the highest levels but also extremely dangerous.

Every driver has the "Choice" of their actions, so to blame the government and call it a cash grab is totally unrealistic.

Cameras are proven to help save crashes/injuries/lives, and with vast improvements over the years I blame the government for not having them back on our roads. The government is more concerned with their pay checks and public opinion to reimplement speed cameras even with the proof they work, they even lie against the proof in order to gain public brownie points to secure their own jobs, very sad.

I do think their effectiveness could be increased if they added penalty points to the tickets rather than just fines.

I was not a supporter of photo radar.  I felt that some of the locations were selected according to potential volume of violators and not potential danger.

I was also not comfortable being asked to account for myself a month or more after an alledge violation.  Hell I sometimes don't remember what I had for lunch two days ago.

Having said that, perhaps drastic times call for drastic measures.

On top of the above, another problem with enforcing traffic laws with automated devices such as photo evidence is that the charges are laid under the strength of Sec 81 of the MVA that provides that the "owner" of a vehicle is liable for the actions of that vehicle.  In other words no driver penalty points, no follow-up for repeat/multiple offenses.

There's a monitory fine, but nothing remedial is avaiable to teach a lesson.  Sometimes money doesn't present the deterrent it should.  The old "any problem that can be solved with money isn't a real problem".

So.... consider the vast changes to the way "we do business" in BC with respect to driving....  maybe another is in order.

We've already made great "leaps forward" ????? Police officers can deem a driver guilty of driving with a blood alcohol level over limits at the roadside.  (that's a topic for another day)

So why not another "ground breaking" law change ?

I propose the govt. amend Sec 81 of the MVA.  If a charge is laid against the owner of a vehicle, that owner is deemed to be the actual driver at the time of the offense unless siad owner nominates the actual driver and that actual driver accepts responsibility.

OK now we have some teeth in charges against owners...

I don't know about you, but if I loan my truck to my brother in law and he gets a ticket in that manner and when I approach him to take reponsibility he says he'll pay the fine, but I'll have to eat the points, that's the last time he ever uses a vehicle of mine.

The current "owner charge" system works such that if the owner nominates a driver and the driver accepts, the driver is then charged as the driver.  If the driver won't accept then the owner is assessed the fine only.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out all the driver has to do is pay the owner for the ticket and nobody gets the points for the violation.

Now, areas of chronic speeding ?? School zones for example.  Permanent, or perhaps like red light cameras, moveable but permanently moounted camera intrastures.

I don't know the dollar breakdown.  I don't know what it costs for the equipment, the maintenance and the processing costs perviolation.

If the cost can be recouped in certain locations, then have the equipment there all the time.

In my neighborhood they have just installed one of those pernament speed reader boards by the local school ground.  "Your speed is _____ "

To heck with that.  How about "Your speed was ____, your ticket will be in the mail, have a nice day"


Prove it.

Show me statistical evidence that the wide, straight, arterial roadways where they were employed (South Granville Street, South-West Marine Drive, South-East Marine Drive, 400 block East Keith Road, etc etc) experienced a reduction in fatalities due to the presence of RCMP officers hiding in plain Dodge vans with a camera on a tripod behind them.

I'll tell you a story. I was once driving south on Grand Boulevard in North Vancouver, and observed that a vehicle had crashed into some bushes at the corner of an intersection; the driver was slumped over the wheel. Two or three vehicles had already stopped, and it was evident that people were attempting to render assistance; I couldn't imagine being able to add anything with my presence there, but a few blocks futher on, when I turned onto East Keith Road, I immediately spotted one of those radar vans. This being back in the days before mobile phones, I saw an opportunity to alert the emergency services to the situation, and pulled over behind the van, then hopped out to ask the police officers onboard to contact nearby police/ambulance services to attend the scene.

What a waste of time. What a farce. Those guys got so annoyed, so excited, demanding that I move my vehicle immediately as it was blocking their camera. They didn't give a flying f*ck about the emergency situation, only how many tickets they could hand out in the time they were there.

Save lives, my back foot.


The research shows that speed cameras save lives by reducing excessive speed.It would be great if ICBC conducted an experiment on high way 19-the sixth deadliest in BC. Start with the Malahat and the Comox Valley Area -where IRU rader campaigns constantly tow drivers at 45 kph over the limit. Constantly tow when they are present-which is not often enough to change the behavior of high risk drivers.

When one of these radar vans is parked monitoring traffic, are there signs erected advising the public that this is a van containing a speed monitoring camera ?

From my experience when a van is spotted, some drivers slow to much less than the speed limit, causing drastic braking by other vehicles down the chain.

Once past the van, the traffic resumes it's "normal" flow, the speeders speeding the law abiders travelling at a legal speed.

The drivers who don't see the van and are nabbed, don't even know they've been caught for several weeks.

It remains a mystery to me how this "saves lives by reducing excessive speed."

Are we saying that after getting a number of these tickets, people become fed up with the fines and slow down ?

Since the tickets in BC were issued to the "owners" of the vehicles apprehended, there was no remedial/follow-up action taken against the drivers (ie, no points), just the monetary fines.

Those who say photo radar is a money grab.....

Our traffic law enforcement system is intended to track drivers who continually disobey traffic laws.  That's why on top of the initial prescribed fine for particular offenses, through ICBC there is a second graduated fine system (penalty point premiums and driver risk premiums) and on top of that, regular reviews by Drive Safe BC that can result in further remedial action such as license suspensions.

We hear on this site, many apprehended violators asking "how can I avoid the penalty points and just pay the fine."

Now, with the photo radar system, we have people thinking a plain traffic fine system with NO penalty points is the way to go ????

I have to agree such a system of "road taxation" without accountability sounds a lot like, if not a money grab, at least a "pay as you go speeding program."

As I stated in an earlier post, in suggesting that photo radar might be a very good way of curbing speeding in particular locations of concern.  By installing permanent radar spots by playgrounds and school, we are creating a form of "speed bump".  In doing so we must realize that traffic will only be slowed in that particular area.

At the time I had suggested permanent photo radar in certain areas, I had not read the RAC Foundation report on the UK's camera program.  I have now learned from that report that the most successful application of photo radar in the UK are the permanently located radar camera sites.  In the UK they have about 6000 speed cameras, of which 3500 are permanently installed at locatons of concern, the balance, mobil.

Our strongest tool in curbing dangerous driving behaviour is a system that places continuous accountability on each driver.  Fines alone do not place that continued onus on drivers.

Driving is a linear action.  It continues along a stretch of roadway.  A "snap shot" of one action at one point along a corridor may not be indicative of the actions of a driver.

Personally with the technology available, I'd much rather see some form of disguised traffic montiring vehicle, equipped with multiple cameras catching offenders committing multiple and continual offenses along a stretch of roadway.  Such footage would go a long way to create dialogue and interest from the motoring public.  Much like the videos that have been enjoyed my many of the "homeless person" standing on the median holding the sign stating he is a police officer monitoring distracted driving behaviour.

Yes, let's see permanently installed electronic monitoring of speed on the Malahat. Advertise it. Also drones monitoring tailgating and other agressive driving, impaired driving -and a  police car and tow truck to haul them away. It will save lives.

There is no reason why points can't be added to the insurer of the vehicle, and a definite must in my opinion to make automated enforcement extremely effective, rather than just a fine.

If the owner/insurer lends out their vehicle, a simple log book for who and when someone else is driving the vehicle so the actual driver at the time can receive the fine & points. then if the owner/insurer doesn't get another driver to sign and just lends their vehicle out, well then they get the fine & points, it's their vehicle so their responsibility, very simple. 

Fines by themselves is ridiculous, it leaves no one accountable and no ones license at risk, sure the monetary fine will curb a certain amount dangerous driving habits for certain people, but to some dangerous drivers, money is no object or consequence.


There is no reason why points can't be added to the insurer of the vehicle, and a definite must in my opinion to make automated enforcement extremely effective, rather than just a fine.

You should think before making statements like this.

  1. There's no requirement for an owner/insurer of a vehicle to even hold a Driver License.
  2. You can't give a driver penalty points for somebody else's violation.




Very easy answer to your confusion, here lets look at this.

Your comments, 

  1. There's no requirement for an owner/insurer of a vehicle to even hold a Driver License   
  2. You can't give a driver penalty points for somebody else's violation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. If the insurer doesn't have a drivers license, then a log book would be "Mandatory" for the vehicle to be driven by a licensed driver, failure to do so could result in cancelation of insurance & fine, first offense 1 year, then if the same person one year later wants to insure a vehicle with still no drivers license, a huge insurance increase, if caught a 2nd time longer cancelation and higher increase & fine. Very strict consequences even if you don't hold a license.                                                                                                                                                                          2. The law has to be changed anyway's in order to add points for automated enforcement, correct? So simple again, change the law that if you lend out your vehicle without getting your log book signed so points can be added to who was actually driving, then the points go to the owner/insurer. Part of the responsibility of owning/insuring a motor vehicle, if the person you are lending your vehicle refuses to sign, don't let them use your vehicle or very simply take responsibility for the points acquired while your vehicles is in use.                                                                                                                                                                                        PS, there is no reason to be rude if you don't agree, your entitled to your opinion without the "DUH!"

What world are you living in, anyway?

1. If the insurer doesn't have a drivers license, then a log book would be "Mandatory" for the vehicle to be driven by a licensed driver, failure to do so could result in cancelation of insurance & fine, first offense 1 year, then if the same person one year later wants to insure a vehicle with still no drivers license, a huge insurance increase, if caught a 2nd time longer cancelation and higher increase & fine. Very strict consequences even if you don't hold a license.                           

Think on this.  In the vast majority of cases, vehicles that are driven by someone other than the owner are either company vehicles or family vehicles.

Demanding "Mandatory" log books is absurd. In the case of Class 1,2 3 & 4 operation, drivers will already have been required to fill in a Pre-Trip Inspection for the day, including hours of operation. If you're a Class 1 driver, you should know this. But even with other company vehicles, it's completely unrealistic to suppose that the driver can't be identified, that paperwork isn't filed, records kept, to identify the culprit after the fact of an electronic ticket. Doesn't matter if it's a 5-ton Moving Truck or a Hertz Rental car.

When it comes to family vehicles, do you really imagine a social dynamic wherein a teenager borrowing a parent's car, or perhaps the wife of a man who is no longer medically fit to drive himself, will fill in your "Mandatory" log book before heading out to pick up the pizza? Give your head a shake. Again, I say Duh! only even louder.

The law has to be changed anyway's in order to add points for automated enforcement, correct?

Incorrect, so far as I'm aware. Certainly with the Speed Camera Vans in use back in the 90's, where the owner could nominate the driver responsible, points would be added to that driver's license on conviction.

This process of Driver Nomination - including adding points to a Commercial Driver's NSC Profile - may be researched here.

The fact is, it really isn't an issue. No company is going to tolerate having their vehicles driven unsafely, nor is any vehicle owner. Upon receipt of the ticket, they will take effective action to prevent a recurrence.  So all this crap about mandatory this and log book that and strict consequences/fines is so much unnecessary hyperbole. Redundant noise, is what I'm saying.

Hey, I know a joke. Do you know what are the three longest years in a Truck Driver's life?

Grade Six!




Class One Driver is correct.  The law needs to be changed.

The "nomination" feature of the photo radar system was an option.  If the owner didn't nominate a driver, then nobody received points and the owner just paid the fine.

Hmmm, I loan by friend my vehicle.  I get mailed a ticket.  My friend is willing to pay me the cash for the ticket and I pay the ticket as the owner and nobody gets any points and the offense isn't place on their driving record, or,,,,  I rat out my friend and he gets the fine and the points.  I wonder just how many would be nominated in that system ??

A system where the owner/principle opperator is assest a fine and the points unless another person admits to the offense, now we have some teeth in the system.


A system where the owner/principle opperator is assest a fine and the points unless another person admits to the offense, now we have some teeth in the system.

How can the authorities possibly assess Driver Penalty Points against someone, without a shred of proof that they were driving?  Think about it.

By changing current legislation I would say. Would that be fair or ethical? Interesting question, but it would certainly cause the registered owner to be even more careful who they allow to operate their vehicle. They would be able to shift the points onto the driver by designating who it was.

I guess a few years ago you could have said "How can they deem a driver guilty of drinking and driving at the side of the road by a police officer's say so ?  The driver's only option is to appeal their guilt."

But the government wrote a law and it has passed the test.

As for owners of vehicles..... "the owner/principle operator of a vehicle is deemed guilty of any Motor Vehicle Act offense committed by the said vehicle unless another person admits driving at the time of the alledged offence."

So it would place an onus on the person responsible for a vehicle to know who was operating the vehicle at any given time and not loan the vehicle to anyone who, if there was a violation wouldn't step up.

I honestly don't think that's a reasonable comparison; in the drinking/driving scenario, the police officer is right there and now, witnessing the presence of the apparent miscreant behind the wheel, in care and control of the vehicle.

As for owners of vehicles..... "the owner/principle operator of a vehicle is deemed guilty of any Motor Vehicle Act offense committed by the said vehicle unless another person admits driving at the time of the alledged offence."

Fair enough, so the owner receives a fine for the way that their vehicle was operated.

But that's a far cry from assessing Driver Penalty Points against someone for something they weren't personally responsible for.  It is NOT the reason that Division 28 exists.

Obviously, with a nomination process, wherein a driver steps up and acknowledges that they were driving and that therefore it's their ticket, points may then be reasonably assessed.

My comment had nothing to do with the driver at the time of a drinking driver event vs the driver at the time of a photo radar ticket.

The point was the government has drastically changed one "way of doing business", so could do the same with another.

Never before has a police officer been the authority that determines guilt.  That, I suggest is a bigger step than the owner getting nailed as the driver (and thus points).

The MVA already says the owner is liable for his/her vehicle and liable for any fines, we're just going one further step, and saying the punishment includes points against the owner, unless someone else steps up.

A system where there is no direct accountability unless someone volunteers, won't work, as stated before.  The actual driver (if not the owner) just pays the owner, who pays the fine, no direct accountability.

Even if the driver is the owner, he/she just pays a fine, not even a notation on their record that they were the subject of an "owner charge".

Without the direct accountability, any charges against the owner of a vehicle are just a revenue source and will do little to make our roads safer.

If the government doesn't go that final step, they may as well stay away from photo enforcement.

In reply to by my5cents

It could even be electronic where the driver swipes in, or a finger print. It could be time logged and dated, even facial recognition, that way the owner has no problem identifying who and when someone was driving the vehicle. 

Families and companies could use this so the driver could recieve the points & fine, and be resposible for paying the insurance increase, or does that go to the drivers licence points premium anyways. I'm don't know as I have never had a ticket or crash, I would just like the guilty driver to be accountable for fines, points and any monitary increases, is the point I am trying to make, and help take the onus off the owner.

Like the IRP, regaurdless of who owns the vehicle, it gets towed if any driver is caught DUI, the owner is ulimatly responsable for the bill, I believe, but I would like to see the owner be able to collect from the actual driver that got caught, again I have very limited knowledge of how this works, I have never had my vehicle impounded, maybe this is part of that already

Oh My! Grade 6! I know of some multi-millionaires who did not graduate. Vancouver's Brian Adams has been quite succesfull.. What has this to do  with preventing fatal accidents on BC Roads?

It seems that  there is, however, agreement that excessive speed needs to be controlled and electronic monitoring is a practical solution. This would be big step forward for the Province of BC. Advertise the locations and the penalties-most will slow down.The rest  will be towed and eventually off the Roads -_Please step up to the plate , Minister Stone.

I am trying to be civil and hold an adult conversation, I have no Idea why CompetentDrivingBC is acting like an Ignorant Child.

I was simply suggesting a logbook for the vehicle itself to be signed in and out by each family member so it would be easy to track who & when was driving the vehicle so the ticket could go to the correct driver, not a commercial log book. Same with many commercial vehicles that don't require logbooks or written pre trips like taxi's, sometimes more than one taxi can be driven by a single driver in one shift.

And the law does need to be changed as with photo radar points are not added or red light cameras, points are not added, I would rather see time over distance cameras but would like to see points added, simply charging a cash fine is insufficient as I stated in my previous post to detour dangerous drivers. The law should add points to all automated enforcement in my opinion, then it effects each individual drivers license, and too many points could mean loosing their license, not just a monetary fine.

I wish Todd Stone would step up, but he's well aware that's political suicide, the vast majority speed and don't want automated enforcement, one reason I believe a transport minister should be appointed rather than voted in, that way safety could then be first priority rather than political brownie points from the public.

High speed, 45 kph over the limit monitoring/enforcement would gain votes for any political party that was actually trying to get to zero fatalities on BC Roads.Who votes-not young drivers or those fueled by drugs and alcoholor, distracted by Iphones. It is the baby boomers who don't need to go 86 mph on high way 19 or  on many BC Roads.Threatened with penalties for driving the limit. Targetted as the cause of accidents on BC roads.

We will see, next election.