ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

The fast and the furious: Notions of unfairness and injustice in criticisms of speed enforcement technologies

Wells, Helen

Enforcement & Penalties


In the UK, and elsewhere, the use of speed cameras to enforce speed limits has met with significant levels of opposition. Estimates vary as to the extent of the objections to their use, but it is undeniable that the policy has been controversial and that the authorities have had to devote considerable amounts of effort to justifying this road safety intervention. Although commonly acknowledged, these objections have remained unexplored. Opinion polls demonstrate levels of support and opposition without attempting to understand and dissect the specific objections of those who oppose the use of cameras.

Focus groups of drivers and Internet discussion forums have been used to look beyond the simple ?for? and ?against? dichotomy and have identified that notions of justice and fairness lie at the heart of many concerns with the use of speed cameras. This paper will consider how the technology of the speed camera itself contributes to perceptions that the system of enforcement is unfair in a variety of different ways, and will offer some suggestions as to how the policy could be developed to address some of these concerns, and consequently be rendered more generally acceptable to the general public who experience it.