Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Speed Cameras - how to defeat the GATSO

For the UK motorist there are many dangers when out on the roads. Some of these dangers put your life and your car at risk, others are putting your money and licence at risk - speed cameras (some call them GATSO's but I prefer to call them scameras). They are like yellow metal triffids spitting out fines at the unwary, unwise or unlucky motorists. You may be surprised to hear that there is a way to fight back and purge our roads of these yellow monsters!

Before I go on to explain how we can beat the GATSO I really should explain a little about speeding. Now it's fairly obvious to all that inappropriate speed can be a very dangerous thing. For example, who would argue that driving at 80mph past a school is just downright dangerous and stupid. Or that driving at 80mph on the motorway in the pouring rain while only inches from the car in front is also just plain stupid. But how about a road that has for many years had a 40mph limit which then changes down to a 30mph limit with no signs warning of the new limit? Is it fair to place a scamera on this road? How does that help road safety? Take a look at this site for some examples of unfair speed cameras.

So lets get to the best part, how do we beat the scameras? Well, lets start by explaining what this system doesn't do. It doesn't involve direct and illegal actions such as those taken by Motorists Against Detection (MAD) and their leader 'Captain Gatso'. While I don't agree with their approach I can certainly understand the reasons why they are taking direct action. You can read more about them in this Guardian article.

So how about a perfectly legal way to beat the scameras? Firstly, we need to make an assumption - that if the scameras run at a loss and no one breaks the speed limits there will be no need for them and they will quickly disapear. There was a clue in that last sentence - "no one breaks the speed limit". It's such a simple and elegant solution to the problem I'm amazed that it hasn't already happened. All we need is for everyone to stick to the speed limits, I mean how hard can it be? I've been driving for 18 years and never had a speeding ticket, so if I can do it then I'm sure everyone else can too. The scamera partnerships would soon be running at a loss and would be quickly scrapped once they no longer bring in the cash. Lets look at the figures for 2003-2004 obtained under the Freedom Of Information act. In that year they received £112.2m from fines and had £91.8m costs. That's a profit, sorry 'balance' of £20.4m. I reckon that of we could reduce the amount of fines given out by 75% it would be enough to tip the balance and that they would make a loss rather than a profit - and then bingo! bye bye to the speed cameras.

So just to recap, keep it safe, be aware of the speed limit and lets stop giving our money to these modern day highway robbers!

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