Stealth Vans and Drones: Effective for Road Safety or Just a Cash Grab

Police are going to be clamping down on UK Speeding

From Drones to ‘undercover’ police vans issuing traffic fines from a distance – what happened to visible policing? 

Using stealth vans and drones to monitor roads is a controversial issue. Some people believe this technology is an effective way to deter speeding and improve road safety. In contrast, others argue that they are simply a way for the government to generate revenue.

Here we talk about road safety and technology.

Cash Cow or Road Safety or Both?

Police departments across the UK continue to utilize controversial “stealth van” and drone technology in an effort to crack down on speeding and improve road safety. However, the use of these tactics remains a subject of heated debate.

 

 

What Are Stealth Vans and Drones? Stealth vans are unmarked, inconspicuous vehicles equipped with speed detection cameras that can record the speed of passing vehicles from a distance. Meanwhile, police drones hovering overhead are able to track speeding cars and even check vehicle documentation like insurance and tax details.

 

 

If a driver is caught speeding by these methods, they face fines and potential points on their license. Supporters argue the stealth element makes the vans and drones more effective deterrents compared to traditional, clearly marked speed cameras.

 

The government is trialling ‘stealth’ unmarked speed camera vans in Northamptonshire, England, and could be rolled out nationally if the project is successful.  Meanwhile, Devon and Cornwall Police now use drones to track dangerous drivers and illegal activity.  

 

 

Both projects aim to encourage drivers to travel the speed limit consistently; however, some would point out that it also generates multi-millions in revenue each year.

Are Hidden Traffic Cameras The Solution?

Government Defends Road Safety Motives

 

 Transport Minister Rachel Fernandez insists the primary motivation is protecting lives. “Speeding remains a factor in roughly half of the 1,400 road fatalities we see each year. While not a complete solution, this technology gives our overstretched police forces another tool to get dangerous drivers to slow down.

 

The debate rages on as the government begins a review to assess the effectiveness and public acceptance of the stealth van and drone programs so farMany safety advocates and businesses like Pegasus Couriers continue pushing for more investment in driver education as well. A recent RAC survey found only 23% of drivers supported increased use of stealth camera tactics.

Police stopping speeding drivers is a thing of past ... Now there are drones and unmarked policing vans. Pegasus couriers talks about road safety and cameras

Speed is a Killer

Public Outcry Over Revenue Generation Critics claim these tactics go too far, eliminating the principle of visible policing. There are also widespread accusations that the programs are more about generating revenue from fines than actually improving safety. In 2023 alone, stealth van operations raised over £75 million in speeding fines across the UK.

 

According to the UK government road safety statistics, speeding is one of the most significant causes of road deaths, contributing to about half of the countries 1,500 annual road deaths. Transport Scotland said that during 2021 they had seen 5,023 road incidents, of which 139 were fatal.    The latest 2023 Government road safety campaign states that 60% of all serious and fatal collisions involving young male drivers happened on rural roads.

 

“These look like blatant money traps rather than sincere efforts to reduce accidents,” said Colin Phillips, a motorist advocacy group spokesperson. “If safety is the aim, we need more cops consistently patrolling roads, not unmanned camera traps.”

Stealth vans and drones for road safety - good or bad?

Speed Cameras On Drones

It is important to note that these technologies are not a silver bullet. They are not always effective in deterring speeding, and they can be expensive to operate. The debate about speed cameras and drones will likely continue for some time. There are strong arguments on both sides of the issue. 

Many believe that cameras are merely tools and that more Police in cars will get the best results.  

Politicians appear unconvinced about the cameras, with many lashing out, suggesting speed cameras are cash machines rather than helping with safety. While it seems obvious that cameras and technology will likely enhance road safety.

The vans have already caused some public debate in some areas, with people saying the vans are a “money trap”. 

What Can We Do To Curb Road Collisions

Businesses can play a role in reducing speeding by providing driver training and education. For example, at Pegasus Couriers, we have driver induction training and general health and safety training – including vehicle safety. This aims to educate drivers on the dangers of speeding and other general safety issues. 

 

At Pegasus Couriers, we are focused on road safety and are constantly adapting our methods.  If you are interested in becoming a courier driver in the UK, get in contact with us today. 

 

The debate continues, but driver education remains crucial for road safety. 

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