Smart Motorway Speed Cameras: It happened to me!

Dear All,

We’ve all sat in the traffic jams on sections of motorway caused by the misuse of “smart” motorway speed cameras many times before…

I’ve heard from countless BTST Members who’ve had close calls when a 50mph speed limit has flashed up for no apparent reason, and drivers have panicked in front of them by slamming on the brakes because of fear they’ll receive a speeding fine.

It happened to my brother in law, Gary – who has a long commute to Oxford each week —  a few months back when he entered a “variable speed limit” zone.

The overhead gantry flashed a temporary speed limit due to an escaped Emu or some such nonsense…

Everyone braked, knowing they would receive a fine if they didn’t, and there was almost a multi-car pile up. He was genuinely shaken by the experience.

We’ve talked about the abuse of smart motorway speed cameras time and time again over the last couple of years, but it wasn’t until last week that it really hit home:

I was driving along a section of the M25 around mid-evening.

The traffic was fairly light for the M25 and running smoothly.

I had the cruise control on and was following the car in front at (thankfully!) a nice safe distance.

The all of a sudden, a 50 MPH temporary speed limit flashed up on the gantry and the car in front slammed on their brakes…

I was so close to hitting the back of their car!

The same can be said for the car behind me — and presumably the concertina effect went quite a way back down the line of traffic…

I’m not easily fazed on the road, probably due to my racing background, but I was full of adrenaline!

It would be easy to blame the driver who slammed on the brakes, but I think that would really miss the point.

Yes, they really shouldn’t have slammed on the brakes because it was extremely dangerous, but no driver is perfect and we all make mistakes (whether we like to admit them or not!).

My point is that it wasn’t intentional, but rather a reflex action to seeing the temporary speed limit suddenly switched on.

What was surely intentional however, was the mis-use of the average speed camera by a Government Agency who are supposedly “experts” in road safety and driver behaviour!

These sorts of abuses must surely have caused hundreds of crashes either directly or indirectly since “smart” motorways came in to use.

And that’s not even beginning to consider the misery caused to Millions of Motorists each day who have to endure the artificially caused traffic jams where smart motorway speed cameras are in operation.

What do you think about the dangers of smart motorway speed cameras?

Let me know comments below:

All the best,


Comments 138

  1. It seems to happen all to often late at night when you are cruising at 80 on the clockwise section after m11.

    1. you should be going the speed limit which is 70 not 80 you should be more considerate to other drivers

      1. Being a lorry driver with 38 years experience with a clean licence I’d like to inform you that from the instant the speed limit flashes up you have 1 minute to slow down .the cameras come active after that time giving those that pass as it comes on time to just ease off to whatever the speed is on .

      2. If your speedo says 70, depending on your car, you are probably doing 65 or 66. So you should be more considerate and speed up. 99.9% of the time you will not get a ticket at this speed. And yes the 79 mph limit was brought in to save fuel.

        Still looking for that illusive Emu!!!!

      1. Hey H, you careful driver! You’re not a middle lane hogger by any chance?

        Brian, you’re right about the cock.

      2. “Utterly irresponsible”? So every driver abiding by the motorway speed limit in the majority of EU countries is “utterly irresponsible”? Given that the 70 mph limit was brought in due to the fuel shortages after the 1973 Arab Israeli war, were all drivers “utterly irresponsible before then”?

        1. 70 mph limit was introduced in Dec 1965 as a temp measure but was made permanent in 1967, nothing to do with fuel shortages in 1973

      3. Correct; you are holding up others. You should be cruising at 90, which is the “norm” in this part of the country. At all time you should be an adequate distance behind the vehicle in front; just driving more slowly doesn’t help anyone.

    2. Smart motorways seem to be a means of extracting yet more money from motorists who, in general, are going about legitimate activities.
      I have noticed the increasing trend of speed limit reduction under the guise of “congestion” when this is fallacious, unless the meaning of that word has been changed, in the interim.
      I consider that the whole concept of the introduction of smart motorways is flawed, being yet another example of reacting to symptoms, rather than solving the root causes of problems and that road user education should be a primary target.
      The introduction of laws regarding both lane hogging and tailgating have been ineffective, whilst the “stealing” of hard shoulders has merely pushed the erstwhile problem further to the right as road users cannot, or will not, act responsibly regarding both lane discipline and the relationship between relative speed and distance.
      I accept that any attempts to educate road users will not be vote winners and fear that the current negative trend will continue, to the detriment of the general public.

      1. So called ‘Smart Motorways’ are simply a cynical exercise in revenue raising and a sinister exercise in surveillance: the by product of this abuse of power is that they are lethal as wave braking from limit changes will cause a severe rear end collision or a vehicle trying to rejoin from a so called ‘refuge’ will be hit……

        1. I totally agree as far as I’m concerned smart motorways are only another way to fill the coffers when is the government going to wake up and realise that we are in Ireland anything that slows traffic down is only ever going to cause more and more incidents in my opinion 70 mile per hour speed limit on a motorway is absolutely ridiculous the 70 mile an hour limit came into force when cars were nowhere near as safe as they are today and all the do-gooders in the country are to dumb see it. smart motorways are being paid for by us the taxpayer while we’re driving on other roads full of potholes the nobody seems to give a damn about repairing them and when they do the job that they do is so Shabby the repair lasts about 2 weeks It’s Time all Motorists in this country stood together and refuse to pay finds imposed on them by average speed check cameras which are purely a method of extracting cash.

          1. Ripped off
            Totally agree its a joke, but its easily played with half the road users thinking 70 mph is to fast on a motorway, seems GB and common sense have parted company for ever.

    3. I have just received a possible conviction for speeding on the M62 between junction 25 & 24. There had been an accident gutter up. I was in a stop start jam for 3 hrs. The speed limit was 50 mph the last time I had seen. I also had a caravan on tow. They are claiming I was travelling at 50mph and that the speed limit was 40 mph. How could I possibly have done 50 mph when I was in a jam. I have written to them but don’t hold out much hope. If anyone else has experienced the same please let me know. The date was 13 May 2019 Facebook Rex Andrew.

    4. It’s happened to me on the 4 lane section of the M5 between Bromsgrove & Worcester, where traffic is light, & the over head gantries flash 50 immediately, everyone slams their brakes on, & low & behold, absolutely nothing is found further on.
      WARNING I’ve now seen the overhead gantry cameras (twin yellow box cameras) on the same section flash motorists when the signs are not lit at all.

      1. Yes … me too … the camera on the M5 southbound between Bromsgrove and Worcester flashed a car a couple of hundred yards in front of me last week and the 4 big black signs were black … no limit showing !!
        Earning money from people from “Smart” motorways when there are no roadworks, no cones, no workmen, negligible traffic good weather is a scandal … and yet it is increasing as the motorist is hit again and again.
        # Is it a legal requirement to prove that there are workmen on the road justifying a 50MPH limit? – or can they switch the signs on whenever they want?
        # Can they switch them on because there is work scheduled but which then doesn’t actually happen?
        # Do they have a legal obligation to remove these limits as soon as the reason for them being switched on ceases?
        # Should there be fines at all or should it simply be a points system?
        …. if a multi millionaire gets a £100 fine … this is NOTHING
        …. if a minimum wage worker who sometimes gets food from a food bank because they cannot earn enough to feed their family gets a £100 fine … this could be catastrophic.

    5. I was driving around the south section of the M25 late on a dark wet evening a while back and for three junctions the smart motorway signs advised of an obstruction on the road and a 50mph limit. Then the speed limit was lifted back up the speed limit ie 70mph. Having not encountered any obstructions I was a little ticked off but safety first I was thinking. Just then on the outside lane i very nearly hit a parked (Broken down Presumably). If there was a car in the middle lane i would have been in the brown stuff big time. These guys are meant to be all tecked up right. I mean its taking months upon months of pain for everyone as they install this stuff on the M20 and M23 right now.

    6. please can someone clarify whether on a smart motorways and there are no variable limits whether they will pick you up if you are travelling over 70MPH?

      My point is , that as the term implies “smart” , then if I was doing for instance 90 MPH on a clear road at 3 am surely they should not be set to pick me up, ie variable in reverse!

  2. Once again this smart camera business seems to have been devised by some bureaucrat in an office, not someone who knows about driving!!!!

  3. Interesting that you ignore the fact that it is entirely your fault if you drive into the back of someone, as you were too close to stop and/or not paying attention. Both of which are your fault, not the driver who brakes. You should always be prepared for the driver in front of you to do something daft like slam on their brakes. What if the emu ran in front of them?

    I live in hope that one day I’ll actually see a rational argument on your blog.

      1. Agree, Thought this was all about saftey, not fault, but you always will get a know it all, although different there are similarities a close friend told me how if you get a speding ticket its your own fault for speeding and not keeping to the leagal limit. You can imagine my laughter when he got his first speeding ticket after 45 years of driving he was furiuos.

    1. That argument is laugh-able. There are so many things in life you “Should do” but most of us live in what’s commonly known as “the real world” where things do not happen as they “should do”. We all pay attention while driving but we all let our attention slip momentarily and that includes the slef righteous people who claim it’s always the person behind who is at fault. What a load of rubbish….These gantrees create hazards … Fact…the hazard wasn’t there before the gantree was it…and don’t get me started on the lack of hard shoulder…

      1. “We all pay attention when driving”. That statement is certainly laughable. I ride a motorbike, and get to see a lot of the causes of tailbacks. I also get to see that a large minority of drivers are paying zero attention to the road (and often they are paying too much attention to their phone).
        And I agree that the lack of hard shoulder is a bad thing. But that wasn’t the argument, was it?

    2. Not totally correct David, because if someone suddenly moves into you braking space at the point of other heavily braking traffic is front of you, then it would not be you to blame, but the vehicle who was driving without due care and consideration to other road users.

      1. Fair comment (and there are probably some other examples where it isn’t the case also). But that isn’t what happened in the situation described in the blog post.

    3. He clearly wasn’t too close as, in spite of the front driver’s panic reaction, there was no collision.
      Most of us try to drive safely and within the law. We just want to know if, when that speed restriction suddenly changes, do the speed cameras change instantly as well?
      If they do is that fair? If they don’t but drivers assume that they do, can you not see how that could cause an accident?


    1. Speed limits are necessary. Cars are getting faster and faster and whilst they also handle better at speeds now, many new drivers cannot handle them at top speed. Also safety in incase of a blowout as I believe most tyres in use today are not run flat tyres. That said I do believe with technology as it is today and car safety and handling etc, Motorway limits could be increased. However it would probably take a while for committees to do feasibility studies and work out safe increases and where they should be applied etc.

  5. Just about making money , and we can’t have any redress because we can’t prove why without very expensive lawyers , we just pay the fine , there should be a 2/3 minute safety area to stop the Domino effect , put the safety cameras on well before and inform the drivers that they have a 1 to 2 mile zone to comply , excepting that there maybe a real dramatic Crash etc , and even then apply and ever bigger zone if possible .

  6. There are occasions when a change in the speed limit is acceptable. The jamming on of brakes is understandable as drivers do not want to get a speeding ticket.
    But if the cameras recorded the exact time that the speed limit changed, and the time that a car is recorded exceeding it, then it should be possible to not prosecute drivers for the first say 20 seconds after a speed limit changes.
    There would then be no excuse for jamming on brakes

    1. There is a time limit and most regular motorway drivers know that but the weekend drivers don’t and its still a natural reaction to hit the brakes, maybe before checking your speed which could be below the limit anyway. The same thing happens when you enter the smart motorway and someone spots the new yellow HADEC cameras fixed to the left hand gantry and brakes BEFORE actually checking their speed. Does anyone know what the excess margin is set at for the HADEC cameras?

  7. If the gantry switches to a different speed limit, the first gantry should not be included in the speed offence, as your distance to reach the limit will cause a potential accident. It should show “first and only warning”, that way a gradual reduction of speed, can be safely obtained.

  8. get a freedom of info list of the names and photos of the individuals responsible for putting on the speed restriction unnecessarily, plus a video of the near miss such as that you describe, and pay a solicitor to prosecute them

  9. I drive for a living and every day of the week I am on at least 2 of these motorways. M2/M3/M20/M25/M26/M27 and see this all the time. Only this morning about 0200 (I work nights) the speed signs were at 50mph on M25 J7, not much traffic but all slowed down and then the next set of signs were blank, no roadworks or sign of an accident.

    1. 31st May 19
      Would be interesting to establish the logic behind the control centre taking such measures! Similar issues around the UK. (Chauffeur until 2017)

  10. Not only are they dangerous but most of the time there is no reason for it and nearly always just before a speed camera

  11. There’s no logic to the speed limits imposed by these systems often hours out of date information & imposing unrealistic & unnecessary restrictions on motorists with no other purpose other than to create a revenue & improved solved crime statics , I travel over 30,000 miles per year & have done for over 25 years seeing random speed limits regardless of need or conditions all times of the day The Highways agency lack any credibility & their sole purpose seems to be to assist revenue collection & disrupt travel & business in the UK . Managed motorways , means nothing more than mismanagement on a gross scale .

  12. Sure, I think there’s some abuse of these variable speed cameras. However, I got nicked near J22 of the M25 and opted for a speed awareness course rather than court (which I usually do, and win!)
    It was quite interesting to learn that allegedly the cameras are 80-90% automated (computer controlled) and may be trying to hold back the traffic from reaching a congested spot several junctions ahead. They also come on to slow traffic at night when noise levels reach a certain level to reduce annoyance to adjacent residential areas. The M25 , and I’m sure other motorways , also have pollution control points, so that when levels of emissons are too high, the traffic speed is reduced.
    It was surprisingly quite an interesting course!

    1. I see the point you’re making, and with regards to delaying vehicles from reaching congestion areas I see the point. However with regards to noise and emissions I don’t see how that works. This sort of control causes both deceleration and also extra acceleration as lots of cars accelerate between cameras. That creates more noise and more pollution than continuing at a steady 70 etc.

    2. I did the course also, the instructor told us the speeds are controlled automatically down to 40mph, then human beings take control. There is a 30 second delay from limit change to cameras active. But like others say, you can’t criticise somebody for braking hard. If you were too close then your problem

  13. ‘Smart’ motorways are anything but. I dislike this cost cutting method of attempting to increase road capacity and try hard not to use them. I prefer to take A roads where available even if it takes a bit longer. You are forced to concentrate on driving and there are usually ways to avoid delays if they occur.

  14. The common sense answer is to introduce (say) a 10 second delay between the speed limit being flashed up on the overhead gantry and the cameras being set. I’m sure that it must be technologically possible, but since when have our ‘overlords’ ever shown any common sense. I also wonder whether or not there might be a defence against a speeding ticket, on the grounds that the speed limit flashed up on the overhead with too little distance available to reduce speed safely before passing the cameras.

  15. I think the so called smart motorways are controlled by dumb arses who cause more problems than they solve, the smart motorways scheme should be scrapped not only are they misused to gain money in the way of fines but they much more likely to cause accidents they way they are controlled

    1. These smart motor ways are controlled by village idiots who are not so smart. They must be laughing at the motorist knowing that we are sitting there for nothing.
      This country has be one a joke with so many regulations that one can’t move with out big brother watching. Cars have become saver and the roads speed limits are a joke. Another cash extortion from Joe public.

  16. I live next to jct 28 on The M62 smart motorway. Listen to radio 2 traffic reports on a daily basis . virtually EVERY day jct28 to jct 26 has an accident and traffic hold ups. Before the smart cameras, I don’t remember even one accident or jam and I have lived here 20 years. How many deaths and injuries do we have to endure before this utter madness stops. I have been driving , accident free for 58 years and I am not a plodder my any means, of course there are idiots on the road , so we good drivers have to drive for them as well. But when your fate depends on some numpty in an office , looking at a monitor and pressing a 50 limit button willy nilly, we are all doomed as private Frazer says on dads army.

  17. There should be some sort of warning that a lower limit is about to be imposed – something like 5 or 6 seconds before the lower limit is displayed & activating the cameras.
    At the end of the day if you rear-end the vehicle in front it’s your fault – end of.
    As a matter of interest Adam, do you ever contact the authorities about your various complaints or you just use your comments to promote your products ?

  18. There are also sensors in the road that monitor vehicles traveling too closely and will turn the signs on to slow traffic down to reduce high speed impacts.

  19. There’s nothing smart about smart motorways and is just a cheap alternative to widening the roads to cope with the increased traffic. While at the same time raking in piles of revenue in fines.there was a program on tv last week about the building of the M1. Made real interesting watching and the whole motorway was built in less time (all be it a shorter motorway in those days) than it took to do a few miles of maintenance in recent times. Well worth a watch if anyone can find it on watch again type tv.

  20. Hi Adam I have experienced this too on the M25, I try and stay out of the outside lane, that is always the first to suddenly stop, very scary.

  21. When the speed Limit signs change to a lower limit, The is a one minute delay before the camera is activated. This was the information given to me by Highways England

    1. Yes. But the car faced with that change will react straight away. The sign should have a ‘countdown’ seconds feature saying that the limit change is imminent rather than sudden.

  22. ….and just so everyone knows there is an apparant gap of a couple of minutes between speeds reducing and the associated speed cameras enforcing.

  23. i am a driver of hgvs and i am fed up with all speed cameras not just motorway ones, they do nothing for road safety as it will not stop speeding and not catch everyone

  24. Coming back from Gatwick m20 m26 m2 for no reason the over head lights showed 60mph very new an bright
    after 3 the next one showed 50mph it was difficult to see the difference between the 5 and 6 until I was within 50 meters so by the time I had slowed the cruse control down to 50 I was 200m past the sign. The next 3 or 4 were back to 60 with no reason as it was 2130 with very little traffic on a Sunday.
    I have been waiting to see if I have a ticket for a week now its just more stress I don’t need.

  25. Yes…see it alot and can not help but find Im also a culprit :-(

    Am also of the oponion these smart motoway cameras are just really an extension of more local lower speed cameras at 30 40 or 50 mph but now on the motorways…the consequences of realising you may now get caught at 75 or 80 or over a lower speed limit on the mororway now has much greater knock on effects for other users..especially the cars behind you…and also..motorway driving because it is has or now was so much safer with no adverts or pedestrians etc awareness of such infrequent hazardous are less expected not to mention the temptation to then focus more on ‘in car’ gadgets and music and telphone conversations etc? Its almost like we have got used to motorways being so safe and easy we need to now be super aware we may suddenly now need to slow our speed although there is no visable or otherwise known hazard? From the drivers point of view but someone somewhere in HQ perseves and can control or see? a reason or stastistical risk like slower moving traffic miles ahead or congestion so know we all need to follow a diffrent set of rules & speed…

  26. Yes happened to me same thing M25 3 weeks ago driving on 70mph and all of the sudden reduced to 50mph and DO NOT KNOW what is the reason for that??? MONEY MACHINE MAKING all what i can understand.

  27. I think the Government agencies are like the Gestapo. So they think by switching on the 50mph limits without good reason and putting fear into the normally law abiding motorists is conducive to road safety.
    Secondly the demise of the hard shoulder is ludicrous and utterly dangerous if a vehicle breaks down.
    As for road safety its complete BS.
    This country is getting more and more corrupt year by year.

  28. There is so much about these Smart Motorways that defies common sense. Whenever Smart Motorways come up in conversation people express huge concerns regarding safety and see it as a cheap way to improve traffic flow by removing the hard shoulder. Concerns like, in the case of an accident how are the emergency services expected to reach the scene? If you did lose power and can’t make it to a “refuge area” the next thing you know there could be a 40 ton lorry bearing down on you.
    As Adam quite rightfully points out the gantry cameras bring their own safety issues. They should step them down incrementally from 70 to set a limit, not just go straight to 50 without warning. Or perhaps have give some warning of a change by having them flashing before going static.
    However the biggest comment is poor lane discipline since at off peak times too many lanes appears to invite the worst lane hogs and finally the overwhelming thing is the additional stress driving on them for all the above issues and more.

  29. What worries me most about ‘Smart’ motorways is the thought of broken down vehicles in lane 1 – the old hard shoulder. I am sure that perhaps on a dark wet night, a large vehicle will suddenly break down and before the signage and cctv works there will be a terrible accident. I have some classic cars and hesitate to drive them on ‘Smart’ motorways as – I can’t deny it – they are more prone to breakdown. To leave the car ‘in play’ as it were would be extremely worrying .

  30. Travelling on th M11 yesterday tempore 50mph speed restriction for 8 miles. Approaching Stanstead Airport sign changed to accident on slip road as soon as that appeared signs indicated end. This was heading North at around 20.00. No evidence of accident, no police no emergency vehicles! Trouble is no one travels at the 50 mph warning and if you do it is dangerous. Why an eight mile warning when it was sufficient that the sign before the slip road was sufficient. Very irresponsible of the traffic authority and dangerous to road users both responsible and irresponsible of which there are many!!

  31. I am 83 years old. I had to use the M25 2 weeks to travel to Worthing. Yes, I did see notices this is “an average speed” part of the motorway. It had me confused because I could not see any ‘speeds’ permissible notices around so I decided to travel at the general speed of other vehicles.
    I thought it was totally irresponsible of any “authorities” to leave motorists confused.
    There is a Transport Secretary in Government. He should be dug out to explain himself – he is the person responsible for the idiots who who decide these things.

  32. We Brits will not stick together on any issues
    We are talkers rabbit rabbit but no action
    Imagine if all motorists who received a Intention to prosecute notice replied by saying we will take it to court Yes they wouldn’t be able to handle it
    But unlike the French we are a nation of cafe golf course talkers
    Myself included So shut up and pay up because you really cannot be bothered Can you ????

  33. Hello All,

    1. first of all this a money making scam – no doubt about.
    2. it also happened to me on th M1 near junction 28/27. The road works had just finished speed limit was to 50 mph and road ahead was clear. I picked up speed to get to 70 mph must have done 400/500 yards when the camera flashed me. Got speeding fine for 68 in 50 zone. There was no reason to have cameras active once passed the restricted zone!

  34. I’m convinced these variable signs are designed to increase revenue from speed tickets. They change so often you literally forget what zone you’re in. The big fines should be levied at these idiots that leave them on for no reason when there is no cause for it

  35. I was told many years ago by the police ‘everyone has the right to stop’. So, assuming this is correct, if we have to brake suddenly, then we are following too closely, as my wife often tells me. However, this happened to me over the weekend. It occurred to me then, are the cameras (if they’re on the same gantry)immediately going to catch you speeding at the new limit? If so, then clearly it’s illegal after just a few hundred yards.

  36. maybe we should organise a petition against these unfair speed restrictions
    I have also had similar experiences in the west country

  37. We need to get OUT of this whole LEGALISTIC NIGHTMARE we have brought on ourselves. There was a time in the early 70’s when we lived in a country where we respected other people, believed and valued our freedoms, and were by default, considerate towards other people. We used to be able to do as we liked provided that there was no law against it. Now we can just about do nothing unless there is a law permitting it.
    The UK is fast becoming one big LEGALISTIC HELL HOLE !! with the State holding all the cards, and the individual is considered with contempt by a devolved regional administration of the EU.
    Nothing will change until we can again make our MP’s and Government fear us, instead of the wretched way it is now.

  38. I have given up counting the number of times that the speeds have been reduced to 50mph/40mph causing massive tailbacks with no apparent reason ie accident, roadworks, lane hazards, debris, emergency services etc and when you get out of it the motorway ahead looks empty. On one occasion I contacted the Highways Authority at Birmingham about a particular occasion quoting the location/date and time and was told that the speed on that occasion had been reduced due to a police/ambulance event on the M6. However, through a reliable work contact I was able to get in touch with the Police in Cheshire and the Ambulance Service neither of whom had any record or knowledge of such any such incident?.
    As for the speed reductions on the so-called smart motorways I cannot see why they cannot simply flash up a amber warning that the speed is being reduced 2-3 miles ahead giving drivers the chance to slow down safely in order to meet the lower limits.

  39. Obviously this caused someone ahead to panic unnecessarily, and that’s a problem with a big knock on effect, but you using cruise control didn’t help.
    In fact, it could even have been caused by the guy at the front who panicking “Sh** my cruise is set to 70mph, I’d need to slam on now !”
    Isn’t part of the problem here that drivers are lazily using cruise control, rather than concentrating fully ?

  40. They probably reduced the speed limit so they could catch the emu speeding.
    All cameras should be banned and with modern cars breaking distances so much shorter nowadays the limit should be increased and have some de-restricted areas in Germany

  41. 31st May 19
    Would be interesting to establish the logic behind the control centre taking such measures! Similar issues around the UK. (Chauffeur until 2017)

  42. The real reasons for cameras is NOT to make roads ‘safer’. But to generate even MORE revenue for the Corrupt Government! If the Gov weren’t so ‘Busy’ giving away tax Payers Money to other countries. That then cause this country to struggle financially due to that. By Weakening our Armed Forces, Essential Service & NHS because of being so ‘Free’ with OUR Money! Then they wouldnt have to top up the ‘coffers’ with Systems like these, That in reality are being abused to gain more Finance! I am all for safer roads & Driving, who wouldnt be? But I have to say, there any many Camera’s out there that are being used underhandedly!….= Giving Money away. Another ‘Benefit’ of being in the EU?……..

  43. It is a cause of a potential accident but it appears that the main aim is cash in the coffers assume the police profit.
    We all drive now with our eyes on the speedometer rather than the road not a good practice.

  44. I think you should start a petition or lobby for a change in the way these limits are flashed up, and suggest that when they are first put on or change then the speed limit should flash for say 5 seconds or more before going permanently on as a warning of the pending change, and it should not be possible to be guilty of a speeding offence when they are flashing.

  45. The highways agency informed me at one of their motorway network monitoring stations that There is a delay from when the speed flashes up on the gantry to the cameras becoming active. I asked the question as I’ve been on the M25 and M1 when this has happened and needed to know, so I don’t anchor up and cause a crash.

  46. I was prosecuted for 81mph in a 70mph
    The cameras are been used to enforce the national speed limit as well as the variable
    I except I was speeding but in 35 years never been prosecuted for this speed
    I now drive like a robot and always brake to match the indicated speed
    My speeding days are over as I can’t afford to loose my licence which I need for my role, I give up!

  47. Not sure why anyone would slam on their brakes when an Average Speed Limit sign appears. It is average over a distance so plenty of time to get to the other end with a below limit speed average.
    Also whether Speed Control is on or off should not be relevant anyway as a brief touch of the brake, not slamming them on, or tab on the speed control lever will be effective.

  48. “Smart” motorways sound good in theory but as usual are a disaster when put into practice.
    I would actually welcome more unmarked Police cars to catch those responsible for exceeding the speed limits by large margins and general dangerous and careless driving
    As a driver of over 40 years I believe driving standards have fallen and modern vehicles are being sold with many more pointless distractions, further reducing standards

  49. I used to drive up to 20,000 miles per year on business, mostly on Motorways, Autobahns, Autoroutes, etc., but since becoming disabled, I absolutely refuse to go anywhere on any form of high speed road, I even avoid the A55 North Wales Expressway. The last time I broke down, in my classic car, the AA took 2½ hours to reach me, despite my ringing them every half hour and being told “We’ll be with you in 15 minutes”. If that breakdown had been on a Smart Motorway, I would have been exposed to danger for a very long time, and would probably have been hit by someone who was not paying attention. As I am diabetic, and had no food or medication with me, I could well have had a Hypo, in which case I would have needed an ambulance, not a breakdown van.

  50. If I say Money Money and yet more Money and let’s attack the motorists, I think I make my point. That what it’s really about. Motorists are easy pickings for money making exercises, getting a lot more coffers in the pot! Smart motorways my big toe! Un- smart motorways more like it. No emergency lane! What num nut thought that one through I ask myself.

  51. The whole safety camera scheme is a money maker for the government. I used to drive 300-400 miles a day as an engineer, I could go weeks without seeing a liveried police car ( loads of unmarked one razzing around) The safest place on a motorway is 1 mile around a marked police car, although people do bunch up if the police car is driving between 65 and 70 mph.
    There are other ways of slowing people down but they cost money and don’t earn it.
    Don’t forget every time you get 3 points your insurance goes up and the government creams 12% insurance tax off the top of your premium.
    And now they want to keep the cameras on when there is now speed restriction. Also the signs are going to be used to slow traffic for air quality purposes.
    As for hard shoulder running why do vosa shut 2 lanes when somebody has failed to reach a designated break down lay-by.
    I have seen countless accidents and near misses because something has broken down in lane 1 with nowhere to go.

  52. Sensibly there should be a slow reduction Ie countdown 1 mph a second (or so) to the new limit. Just a question of lifting off the gas.
    to all of the comments moaning about cruising at 80 if it’s safe to do so, why the hell not.
    it could be the cosy 2 party government system is close to major change so maybe just maybe the technocrats might have to adhere to common sense. (in my dreams!)

  53. My daughter had a big accident after a lady driver instead of slowing down she decided to stop on 3rd lane my daughters vehicle flipped 3 times in air and really blame the speed cameras, luckily she survived, we all know, government knows and the traffic agency know that cameras are there to make money for the traffic agency and we all know that cameras are no good for any roads because driver is looking for cameras rather then looking at the road, stupid idea who ever idea is that. we all know about how much money they make from us drivers and it’s pity that no one stands for it or fight for it.
    Just last week I was driving on country lane and one of the camera was hidden in bushes only seen the camera when I was very close to it the branches were covering the camera I was doing 36 mpg and received a ticket really stupid because they are all ways right and we are all ways wrong. I am really pissed off, some one need to look in to speeding tickets and cameras, I think , do you all know that there are many countries who do not have cameras and have lass accidents then uk, the only thing I would say is day light robbery, they should be shamed for them self.

  54. This is real problem. But there is simple solution. After changing the speed limit on the motorway cameras speed limit suppose to stay unchanged for 5 minutes. And everyone by knowing that won’t be reacting and slamming the breaks.

  55. If one drives correctly and cautiously and at the correct speed at that time and place and in accordance with the law of the country that you are driving in you won’t have any problems, just drive being considerate to other road users a d drive

  56. The real problem is that somebody at one time in the 1960 decided that it was OK to slow traffic down so we had weekend speed limits then temporary speed limits that became permanent and we got bunching and 50mph traffic jams. The speed limit is an imaginary safety device and the fines are there to keep the tills jingling. Since the advent of “Speed Kills” advertising we have loads of people actually believing that it does. Speed doesn’t KILL or there would still be hundreds of F1, NASCAR, INDY CAR and other motor racing drivers dead every weekend. Bad driving kills.

  57. A similarly scary time of the M42 aroudn Birmingham a while back, which has happened several times. The variable speed limit sign show different speeds and change regularly while approaching. It was hard to manage keeping to the rapidly changing speed limits and was both dangerous and scary as the effect was to make moderate traffic bunched and slow going, having a sort of caterpillar effect of bunching then extending quite rapidly. It was frightening and dangerous and totally irresponsible of the speed limit operators.

  58. Surely it is not beyond the intelligence of these Road Safety Boffins to get the initial commencement of the 50mph speed limit to flash in amber for say 30 seconds to make folk aware that the actual 50mph limit will imminently be coming in to effect, no? At least that way drivers will not panic into braking and causing such pile ups.

    1. Yes simple solution. For initial speed display . Also limit should be driven to in the correct lane not 3 or 4 mph less as often happens !
      And the 70 limit is fine in certain circumstances but we should have higher limit in dry conditions and light traffic let’s get realistic at what speed 60/ 70 % of us drive at in the outside lane ie 75- 85 mph .
      When it’s raining should be slower in other words drive to the conditions .
      We are to pc and not prepared to change . Taken all these years 40 + to allow learners to be taught on use of motorways .

  59. The M40 has no cameras on between London and West Midlands.

    So therefore if the gantry flashes a temporary speed limit, how can this be enforced ?

    Is the M40 not a “smart motorway” ?

  60. I’ve phoned highways about the speed beeing on and they said they could not change it till one of their drivers had driven past the signs and verified that it was all clear.

  61. How will a Tesla car respond if the driver has it on auto-pilot? As far as I am aware the Tesla external sensors do not respond to speed limit changes from the over-head gantries.
    Even if the driver tries to over-ride the auto-pilot doesn’t mean he can successfully regain control due to reported issues where the Tesla auto-mode has not relinquished control.

  62. Every driver must be aware of the highway code in order to have a licence. If you fail to drive according then you are in the wrong, blaming managed speed limit changing doesnt not excuse anyone driving too close to the vehicle in front

    Drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear. You should
    leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance.

    Allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced.

    The gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads

  63. There is a lot of people replying -Instead of finding a solution – These speed limit signs simply need to have a flashing 30-29-28 etc count down before a speed can be shown – this would allow all cars to slow down in plenty of time before the speed limit is issued

    This type of solution is what you should be aiming for with the authorities

  64. With driving a 15mt tri-axle coach regularly on these so called ‘SMART MOTORWAYS’, I find it increasingly ANNOYING that thoughtless CAR drivers STILL insist on driving in the ‘FIRST OVERTAKING LANE'(sometimes mislabelled as the middle lane), for miles without any consideration for ANY OTHER USERS OF THE MOTORWAY. It must surely be possible to ‘program’these computer controlled cameras to ‘track’ the vehicles driving without due care and attention and send them an extremely LARGE FINE in the post, with an explanation.

  65. Adam I have read your blogs for a long time.I think you should stand up and tell this goverment we will not put up with collecting money of us for what ever we do speeding parking or ..any other little offence.Or any other goverment th.at we get lumber with.Trying to keep to 30 mph the other day looking at the speedo I drove right through a pedestrian lights.Most cars have no 30 mark on the speedo,so you must look between 20 and forty.Somebody must stand up and tell them we will not put up with it any more.We pay road tax,but the roads are in a terrible state. I have noticed that people are always saying things about each other instead of fighting the goverment. Come on Adam sort I am sure they will be millions will follow you, just like Farage

  66. Thank you for all this valuable information – I have often experienced many of the conditions that others have reported. Over the years I have taken part in three speed awareness tests (for exceding 30 mph) and found them good fun – particularly when attendance meant I didn’t get a speeding fine or points on my licence. I try to use my cruise control when I come across speed reductions on motorways so I don’t have to keep checking my speed and can concentrate on what is happening around me. I live near and use the M40 a lot so am sometimes driving on the M25 and in the past have not taken as much notice as I should of the M25 speed reductions. I will take more care in the future. Like other contributors I worry about hard shoulders being used as part of the motorway system. Is anyone collating figures and information regarding this and particularly the effects on those unlucky enough to have been involved in an accident and assistance has been prevented from arriving as soon as it should?

  67. i did read every one of the comments it did actually amaze me how every one is putting blame on every one else how about you all stop whinging and join together and do a partition to the Government get rid of the stupid people who risk others lives by suddenly changing the speed limit for no good reason and sue them as a collective and the police for using dangerous active use of and abuse of these speed limits. we could each pay an amount into a kitty and hire the right people to fight a case against them. lets not abuse each other stand as one together, we stand alone we fall alone .working as one unit we can win if we fight hard enough at the Government with the right lawyers.

    1. I signed a petition the other night that someone had started, it was about the subject of speed cameras being used purely to collect money from motorists. I think these smart motorways are anything but smart! For those of us without cruise control we’re constantly having to look at our speedometers so we don’t go over the limit, this is a dangerous distraction. During the last few weeks there’s been multiple car accidents on the motorways because of people braking suddenly and losing control of their vehicles. Smart motorways have done nothing in favour of ordinary motorists. Councils are rubbing their hands together because they’re allowed to keep some of the money raised. This will put all our insurance premiums up, what a waste of taxpayers money this has turned out to be. The government should have left our motorways as they were, if it’s not broken don’t fix it.

  68. I suppose the old adage “if you don’t exceed the limit, you won’t get done” applies and yes I have been, however “Smart” motorways are not very smart, nor are the people who dreamt them up. They are downright dangerous.
    It’s a pity that some of these stupid ideas — double mini roundabouts and so on–are not researched by professional drivers, instead of people, who it would seem, have never driven.

  69. It happened to me on the M25 when travelling to Wales last month. Horrendous journey that should have taken 3 and a half hours but because of the speed restrictions took me over 7 hours to get there. Although these cameras are designed for it to collect money from the motorist

  70. If more attention given to BAD driving, and less to arbitrary speed limits. the roads would be far safer. Many drivers are unsafe at any speed.

    1. Pity there’s no “like” button on this board! You’ve hit the nail on the head, Geoff; other than the obvious that any incident is potentially going to be worse at higher speed, it’s INAPPROPRIATE speed that’s dangerous, whether over or under the arbitrary limit.

      The other day I was close behind a car going well under the limit which totally changed lanes without indicating on a roundabout, causing following vehicles to take evasive action to avoid a shunt – not just once, but TWICE!

      I then got zapped by a mobile camera on a fairly quiet dual carriageway – guess who was prosecuted?

  71. Very dangerous, Instead of putting the speed limit say from 70 down to 50, why not put it down to 65 first then 60 etc so every bridge you come to will be 5 less and allow time to react without dangerously hitting the brakes. they could also display …saying speed limit decreasing ahead and is 50 at junction 10 or whatever. Would a dash cam pick up a speed limit change on the gantry display ?

  72. I have yet to see one of the reported hazards shown on any gantry I have passed.
    On the matter of speed controlled zones, the Speed Awareness people claim that the operators can see traffic build-ups 10 miles in advance and take action to slow the traffic to achieve a smooth flow. What absolute nonsense.
    50mph is the default set by ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers ( now renamed) and covers whole swathes of Wales, The Pennines, The Lake District, Northumberland and many miles of “A” roads throughout the Country. Putting Policemen in charge of speed limits, whose Police Forces directly benefit from the traffic fines, is at the heart of the problem. Highways England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have followed suit and put 50mph on every roadworks in the land including Smart Motorways.
    What would be Smart, would be to change speeds limits by 10mph at a time avoiding the sharp braking necessary from 70mph to 50 mph, as now. But unfortunately neither the Police or Highways UK will listen, so I suggest a letter to your local MP might be effective. Charlie Elphick MP for Dover kicked up so much fuss over the artificial 50mph limit on the M20 at Ashford, that Highways England changed the limit south-bound to 60mph, and this in an Average Speed area.
    It can be done but motorists need to remind the Police, Highways England etc, and Government, just who pays the ludicrous motoring taxes; car purchase tax, fuel duty, annual road tax, that keeps them in jobs. Complain to your
    MP and demand they reinstate the speed limits set by Parliament.

  73. Simple solution to this issue. As a IT Manager I would demand an explanation if my team made a change affecting so many users\people. The same applies to this conversation. We need a website for the motoring organisational to fill in when every change is made by them. We pay the road taxes time is also money by businesses.

    Think about it….

  74. I personally do not mind variable speed limited as long as they are used wisely. Parts of the M25 around busy junctions it does help at rush hour and I appreciate that. What I object to is authorise reducing speed limits on busy ring roads dual carriageway to 30mph at all times and often sticking speed camera vans on them. And I’m not talking areas near schools. I’m talking a roads that are totally safe with a 40 or even 50mph limit and always have been in the past without a problem with accidents. How are these actions anything more than revenue seekers?

  75. i have a friend who used to work on Motorway cameras doing the Fiber Optic stuff..
    i will ask if he knows about the 1 minute delay thingy..

    the trouble is there are a hell of a lot of people on the road who cant actually drive properly at all..
    ive seen it all after 40 years of some professional driving and racetrack driving..
    in the old days it was possible to cruise at 80-90 mph on the motorways but NOT now its too busy..
    also the lane hoggers doing 60 mph need sorting, ive seen some even in the 3rd lane on a 4 lane stretch..
    and i dont know about you but i still see so many people on their Mobile phones too..
    ive seen the smart cameras come on and people do panic and brake, so whats the answer Adam ?

  76. Would it help if the camera before the 50mph was switched to 60mph ? To slow the traffic gently

    Should there be a feature that only set a 10mph decrease gantry be gantry ?

    If there was a genuine incident after the first gantry then there could be warning signs on the big notice boards before the gantry.

    I suppose all this is too sensible !

  77. Since 2012 I believe it became a requirement that a speedometer cannot read les than the vehicles actual speed but can read more. Because the speed now comes from the ECU. The manufacturer can set the difference to what ever takes there fancy. So who knows what speed camera software is set at? How can you prove it is set as the true limit or an some random number the software says it is.

  78. There are so many things wrong in this article, it’s hard to know where to start.

    As others have said, there’s a delay between any limit being displayed and the cameras (if there are any at that gantry) enforcing the displayed limit. Granted a lot of drivers won’t know that, but it’s done to stop them needing to brake hard, although from the point where the signs are readable to underneath the sign wouldn’t need much braking to achieve the displayed speed.
    As for escaped emus and the like, the main reason the speed limit will change will be that there’s nothing there for you to see. Basic, non-mandatory MIDAS systems have been used for years to warn of queues and have a significant impact in reducing accidents (about 13%). Smart motorways themselves have been around for over 20 years, starting on the M25. They’re designed to reduce the speed as traffic volumes build to avoid flow breakdown caused by the amount of traffic. Therefore, before you see a queue or it becomes very busy, speeds will be reduced, smoothing the flow of traffic, reducing headway and allowing more traffic to pass through the network.
    Add in that there’s not many cameras, Highways England has to pay the police to enforce the limits and earn nothing from any fines and the system is a great way to provide extra capacity with the cost, disruption and environmental impact of widening the motorways. But, yeah, emus.

  79. These so called traffic calming cameras are on 24/7 at the brynglas tunnels on the M4 in Wales. Newport council have raised millions by just leaving them on.

    Scandalous but nobody does anything about it.

  80. I was caught doing 59 after the speed limit changed from 60 to 50. Could have understood if I had been doing 90 but I was doing 59. The reason the limit dropped was to prevent air pollution. Its ridiculous, four weeks later the cameras changed again but this time I slammed on my breaks.

  81. I think like a lot of the people commenting here that it is just another way of getting more money out of the motorist. Most of the time there doesn’t seem to be anything on the road. Also if people didn’t tailgate so often then maybe there wouldn’t be so many accidents, and if people were in the right lane which should be the left hand lane once they have overtaken the car in front of them there wouldn’t be a so much congestion, I am often undertaking cars who are sat in the second and third lane doing 60 with nothing in front of them rather than move over to the left hand lane. People really do need to learn how to drive on motorways correctly.

  82. I travel on the M42 on a regular basis,and some days I cannot see any rhyme or reason for the the use of these stupid speed limits. I think that the speed control operators just feel bored and think they might as well have a bit of fun with the motorists. Mr.”Tingle”.

  83. I agree with most of that these so called smart cameras would better off being done away with. Why damn well have them in the first place if they’re likely going to cause accidents when drivers panic when a 50mph (or lower) flashes up on the gantry. Maybe a serious or fatal accident will make the installers think again

  84. Gobsmacked that people are really leaving comments saying that checking their speedometer against a speed limit is a dangerous distraction – seriously ???? What do you think a driver should be doing ????

  85. Safespeed once reported that research had proved that flashing ‘slow down’ signs are three times more effective than speed cameras at preventing road accidents.
    So every speed camera of any kind represents an unlawful compromise of road safety in favour of raising revenue and criminalising ordinary people, most of whom are not guilty of any common law offence.
    Enough is enough. The abusers responsible for running these partnerships and the venal judiciary aiding and abetting them need to be exposed and prosecuted as the rule of law demands.

  86. Few points. Yes the speed limit was introduced as a temporary measure. Yes it should be re-examined as cars are a lot safer. There has been a very short section on the M25, Kent/Surry stretch late at night recently where the speed is reduces to 50 then back to 70 for no apparent reason – no roadworks, obstructions, nothing! And to the guy who says you should leave a large enough gap, good luck with that! As soon as there is a gap barely big enough to get a mini in appears it will be immediately filled.

  87. There should be a gradual decrease area coming upto the reduced speed and in this there should be no need to slam on brakes and cause accidents but during this reduced space if you do not slowdown you should be fined very heavily upto 10,000 pounds or more that will be the drivers fault and not the highways agency. So reducing speed gradually will save accidents and lives, on the M62 heading upto yorkshire they do warn about a reduction ahead with plenty of warning and their have been less accidents. You should be campaining against the TWATS who do not give way to motorway traffic when entering the motorways. I have driven HGV-PSV and cars all over the country and where theres a slip road on there is accidents and sometimes death so concentrate on that and the motorways will be safer then.

  88. Surelyl the obvious answer is to treat speed limit changes like traffic lights. Instead of going directly to the new limit, first display it in flashing amber for 20 or 30 seconds.

  89. What happens to those drivers that have momentarily passed the ‘flashed up’ speed limit before it shows up, and were probably going faster than the new limit , are they to be fined? a nice little earner for the government if so.

  90. I drive London to Scotland regularly. I see people driving on to M’ways without slowing or looking, and hogging middle lanes regularly. But in town I also see less courtesy from oncoming cars – ‘i’m bigger so it’s my right of way’ mentality! Let’s promote courtesy for road safety!

  91. “I was so close to hitting the back of their car!”
    Then you were following too close to the car in front for safety. What if the car in front had not over reacted to a change in speed limit but instead suffered a mechanical failure, causing a sharp breaking? The fault is NOT the change in the variable speed limit, but YOU for not keeping your distance. The driver may have mad a amistake but that would have been of no consequence had YOU been driving appropriately.

  92. Scandalous, RIP those who’ve died in part due to this lunacy. So many clueless people ambling around causing mayhem and no one doing anything about it. Geoff bang on!

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