A new police drone will take to the skies above London later this month to help collar speeding drivers – the first time such tech has been used to target dangerous motorists in Britain.
Once a dangerous driver has been spotted by the drone, which is equipped with a night-vision camera, officers in traffic cars will intercept the offender.
According to reports, one of the first roads to be targeted may be be the A10 in Enfield where more than 150 motorists have been caught speeding in the past five weeks – at speeds of up to 127mph. In common with the surveillance drones operated by the army, the police say there aircraft will operate at at high altitudes to avoid detection.
Detective Superintendent Andy Cox, head of the Met’s roads and traffic policing unit, said: “The focus will be on dangerous drivers who are racing and those putting their lives and other people’s at risk.”
There is no word on how long the police drone will be capable of staying aloft, but whatever its autonomy, it will have its work cut out. Putting aside the question of why it’s possible to buy cars for the road that are capable of exceeding the national speed limit by 100%, neither the threat to other people’s lives nor the risk of penalties dissuades motorists from driving within the law. For example, in the 20mph zones intended to safeguard areas where people live and children go to school, 86% per cent of car drivers break the speed limit.
The figures above are based on data collected by the Department for Transport’s Automatic Traffic Counters (ATCs) and excludes locations where factors such as junctions, hills, sharp bends or speed cameras might slow drivers. In other words, the statistics provide insights into speeds at which drivers choose to travel when free to do so.
One day in the not too distant future, folk will look at today’s roads as frontiers-style motoring; speeding is endemic and motorists can drive dangerously and even kill with near impunity. However new legislation means the days of speeding traffic look numbered. The ETA started campaigning for speed limiters in cars in the early 1990s – it is only now that this simple technology looks set to be introduced into new cars.
All new cars sold in Britain and Europe are to be fitted with devices to stop drivers exceeding the speed limit under new road danger reduction measures that the EU has provisionally agreed. And although Britain may no longer be part of the EU when the rules come into effect in 2022, the British regulator, the Vehicle Certification Agency, has confirmed it will mirror safety standards for vehicles sold here.
As well as the speed limiters, new cars will have to fitted automated emergency braking, electronic data recorders (black boxes) and improved visibility built into lorries.
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