The controversial roll-out of ‘smart motorways’ and the use of gantry cameras has resulted in a huge rise in speeding fines, according to data obtained by the BBC, while safety concerns continue.
The Corporation reported that fixed penalties on ‘smart’ sections of motorway rose from 2,000 to 52,000 between 2010 and 2015, based on data from six police forces.
It said that it obtained comparable data from half the 12 English police forces that operate across 236 miles of ‘smart motorways’, including parts of the M1, M25, M4, M42 and M6, for the total number of speeding tickets and fines collected.
The BBC calculated that the revenue going to central government every year increased to more than £1.1m, from £150,600 five years ago.
The Government’s plans to increase all lane running – the permanent use of the hard shoulder as a live lane - across England have been repeatedly criticised by the Transport Select Committee, which says ministers are ignoring the risks.
In September, following a report from the committee in June, which called for a halt to plans to introduce all lane running to 300 miles of motorway over nine years, transport secretary Chris Grayling announced the conversion of 32 miles of the M5.
The AA told the BBC that ‘questions need to be answered about the money being recouped’.
AA president Edmund King said more emergency refuges were needed and they should be twice as long.
‘Only a couple of weeks ago one of our members broke down on a smart motorway. There was a red X up but they still got hit from behind,’ he said.
A Department for Transport spokesman said: ‘Smart motorways smooth traffic flow and cut congestion for millions of motorists, with evidence from trials showing they are just as safe as regular motorways.
‘Enforcement is a matter for the police and it is clear that speeding costs lives. However, we have been clear for a number of years that speed cameras should not be used to generate revenue.’