Prolific Speed Cameras

A recent media report states that a speed camera in the Limehouse Link tunnel in East London issues the most speeding tickets in the country – on average about 50 per day. That’s 17,620 tickets in 2014-15.

There is one camera in the tunnel westbound, although it is moved around between three different locations within the tunnel (this is not an average speed camera system along the tunnel but a conventional gatso type). Often the active camera is near the westbound entrance, where the road slopes down into the tunnel and hence vehicles have a tendency to speed up and where they are just coming out of a 40 mph limit area. With a speed limit of 30 mph, the cameras being both invisible and poorly signed, you can see why they are so productive.

This writer looked at the accidents in the tunnel soon after it was built and when speed cameras were first installed. This is what I said back in 2003: “Why was this done? At first glance on the reasonable grounds that there have been a number of serious accidents on this stretch of road, including two fatalities, although there is no evidence that they were speed related (your editor has studied the police STATS19 reports on the accidents).

In fact there is a major design defect in this tunnel. It has a “pavement” at each side with a kerb that is several inches high, unlike most tunnels. Many of the accidents appear to be caused because people hit the kerb and are deflected into other traffic, or in the case of motorcyclists who seem to experience particular difficulties, are ejected from their bikes into the path of other traffic. The problem is that because of the poor lighting in the tunnel, and the fact that the kerb and pavement are a uniform monochrome grey that matches the surface of the road, drivers simply cannot see them. They therefore tend to follow the more brightly lit sides of the tunnel and run into the kerbs.

Comment: A few pounds worth of paint to highlight the kerb would have solved almost all the accident problems but instead we have the dogmatic approach of installing expensive speed cameras, and fining motorists, for no good reason.”

Needless to point out that my representations on this subject to the head of road safety at TfL fell on deaf ears.

Roger Lawson

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