A slew of iPhone apps and GPS add-ons that rely on user-created databases to alert drivers of speed-traps and traffic-enforcement cameras may become as useful as tax tips from Tom Daschle once a new breed of cameras begin appearing on UK roadways.
It's one of the paradoxes of driving in England: They can buy awesome cars that we don't have the chance to drive, but Big Brother ensures they don't get to enjoy them on most public roads without some hefty fines from unmanned cameras. In addition to GPS units with built-in lists of speed traps, iPhone Apps like Trapster, NMobile, and newcomer Speed Cameras have helped drivers avoid unexpected and unwanted mail from the police. The premise is simple: when a motorist approaches a known speed camera, their iPhone sounds a warning. The driver taps the brakes to avoid being caught and resumes extralegal travel after passing the camera.
Now, the London Times reports that the UK Association of Chief Police Officers has finally approved a plan to implement "average speed" cameras. The new cameras appear in series and can determine how long it's taken a car to travel between two points. If reaching Point B from Point A takes less time than speed limits dictate it should, the driver gets ticketed. Slowing down for the camera won't help the driver if they've already passed through an area too quickly.
Surprisingly, the plan is far more popular than its alternative: the dreaded speed bump.
It turns out the speed bump is about as popular in England as refrigerated beer. According to various reports, the "road hump" (their lovely traffic lumps) is responsible for increased emissions, vehicle damage, and lost emergency response time.
Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones told the Times that compared to speed bumps, average speed cameras "would smooth traffic flows, reduce emissions and encourage more people to switch to cycling." Compared to a road with a steady speed limit of 30 miles per hour, the constant braking and acceleration on roads with speed bumps increases carbon monoxide emissions 82 percent and nitrogen oxide by 37 percent according to the UK Transport Research Laboratory. The Automobile Association reports that speed bumps decrease fuel economy up to 53 percent.