The history and development of speed camera use

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #242 [2005]

Authors: Delaney, A., Ward, H. & Cameron, M.

Full report in .pdf format [390KB]


The use of automated speed enforcement technologies is now wide spread throughout many parts of the world and research has consistently demonstrated the positive road safety benefits achieved through the use of these technologies. However, there is wide variation in the nature, extent of use and perceived acceptability of automated enforcement technology, particularly as the primary form of speed enforcement. Despite these differences controversies associated with the use of speed enforcement technology have arisen in each jurisdiction and some common elements across jurisdictions are evident.

This report examines the controversies experienced in Australia, North America and Britain in terms of one of the four dilemmas identified by Goldenbeld (2002). The four dilemmas are as follows:

  • Credibility dilemma: encompasses concerns about the purposes of the countermeasure and the interests in which it is pursued.
  • Legitimacy dilemma: refers to the fairness of the countermeasure
  • Implementation dilemma: occurs where the acceptance of a measure is hampered because difficulties associated with implementation are not compensated for
  • Social dilemma: occurs where there is a mismatch between individual preference and collective interests

Despite the common themes that emerge across countries, the impact of negative public perceptions of speed camera programs may be seen to be especially severe in North America, particularly in British Columbia where they contributed to the decision to abolish the photo radar program. Therefore, the approaches adopted in Australia and Great Britain to address public concerns and minimise the effect on the operation of automated speed enforcement initiatives are considered.