‘Smart cameras’ snap thousands near Hemel Hempstead

Variable speed camera on the M1 motorway
Variable speed camera on the M1 motorway

Speed cameras have proved smarter than the thousands of speeding drivers they have trapped on motorways in the Gazette’s patch.

Since so called ‘smart’ variable speed cameras were installed on the M1 and M25 from 2014, some 41,746 drivers have been caught exceeding the changing limit, which can drop from 70mph to speeds of just 20mph.

This army of accelerator-happy motorists have been forced to cough up in excess of £104m in fines.

In the Hemel Hempstead area, between junctions 6 and 7 and junction 8, more than 5,150 penalty notices have been issued in the same period.

The figures have been revealed in new Freedom of Information data, obtained by car savings website Confused.com.

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at the website, said: “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 last year alone.

“We’d 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.

“Of course, speeding can land drivers with more than an expensive ticket as motorists with points for speeding can also face increased car insurance costs at point of renewal.”

Confused.com believes knowledge of the role of variable speed cameras seems to be relatively low.

When unprompted, a whopping 27 per cent of drivers were unfamiliar with what variable speed cameras actually are, despite more than half driving through these zones at least once a month.