Fixed cameras “may cause poor driving” | Smart Highways Magazine: Industry News

Fixed cameras “may cause poor driving”

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A telematics company says analysis of its data suggests that the siting of fixed speed cameras could be causing poor driving rather than making roads safer.

Wunelli, a LexisNexis company, analysed more than a billion miles of driving behaviour data and found evidence that drivers “brake excessively” just before speed cameras to avoid being caught.

It says 80% of all the UK speed cameras investigated had hard braking activity, with braking increasing six fold on average at these locations.  Wunelli defines a hard braking event as a change in speed of 6.5+ mph over a 1-second timeperiod, which is enough to propel a bag on the passenger seat into the footwell.

It says its key findings are:

  • 80% of the UK speed cameras investigated are creating braking black spots
  • Motorists hard braking activity increases on average by 689% at these locations
  • Women exceed the speed limit 12% less than men and hard brake 11% less
  • Motorists are most likely to speed at 5:59 am and least likely to speed at 5:16 pm
  • Motorists driving in 30 mph zones are found to be speeding 12% of the time and at least 18% over the speed limit
  • Motorists in Caithness speed 36% of the time, whilst motorists in Greater London only speed 8% of the time
  • A 30% reduction in speeding is achieved by  those provided with feedback via personal dashboards or smartphone devices

The Wunelli analysis also identified that drivers of 4WD gold estate cars are typically the safest drivers as determined by fewest speeding, braking and claims events.

Paul Stacy, Founding Director, Wunelli said, “these findings question whether speed cameras are serving their purpose as a road safety tool or whether they are instead encouraging poor driving behaviour.

“The breadth and depth of data Wunelli can now aggregate and study means driving behaviour analysis is now possible on a range of vehicle factors, if you wanted to identify which car driver is least likely to be involved in an accident based on the driving behaviour we have recorded, they would be the owner of an estate car, gold colour, 4 wheel drive and about £10k in value.  Of course, that’s not to say gold-coloured 4WD estate owners are all safe drivers.”

The analysis also uncovered that residential roads (under 40mph) have significantly more accidents per mile than roads with higher speed limits. This type of information is not only hugely valuable to insurers but immensely important for motor manufacturers and the designers of the cars and the road networks of the future.


There is evidence at some fixed speed camera sites of heavy braking causing nose-to tail collisions, however this is not an issue for average speed systems. The nose to tail collisions at fixed sites tend to be non-injury or slight injury, as opposed to the KSI (killed or seriously injured) casualties that speed cameras have been proven to reduce – even when taking regression to mean into account. Speed cameras reduce the number of serious and fatal collisions, but they are not a panacea for eradicating all collisions. Drivers still have to take some responsibility for their safety, and have the choice of staying within the speed limit so they don’t have to perform heavy braking, or risk going into the back of somebody who is.

The interesting thing about the “safest driver” identifued by Wunelli, is who they are (age/gender/socio-demographics etc.), not which car they drive, favourite colour, shoe size or hairstyle. It would also be interesting to note if Wunelli’s dataset is representitive of the general driving public, or if their analysis is skewed by the profile of their customer base.

The fact that roads under 40mph limit have the most accidents, is not a revelation. This is because they tend to be urban roads, with more traffic and more junctions. The RAS30 and NTS datasets on have a wealth of data on vehicle use and collision rates.