Mobile speed cameras show rise in speeding drivers

A mobile speed camera used by the PPA.
A mobile speed camera used by the PPA. Source: PPA

Mobile speed cameras in use for almost a year have revealed an uptick in speeding, particularly in the country's two largest cities, Tallinn and Tartu, news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported Thursday evening.

Figures are affected by the type of camera used, as well as whether a speed warning to drivers flashes up some distance ahead of the actual camera – a practice recently discontinued in Tartu, but in use in Tallinn.

In the Tallinn area, warning signs ahead of a temporary speed camera, placed on a tripod by the roadside rather than being hand-held by Police and Border Guard (PPA) personnel, have had the effect of slowing drivers down before reaching the camera's zone.

Speed limits in urban areas often treated too casually, the PPA says.

"Since speed limits are often treated too flexibly in urban areas, data is confirming that the devices, which measure the speed of all passing vehicles and automatically send a warning to [near, at or over the limit] drivers [have been effective]," Andrus Reimaa, the head of the PPA in Tartu, told AK.

Drivers in Tartu, however, do not have the luxury of advance warning of speed cameras from this week, AK reported, though signage on the approaches to the city limits gives the information about speed limits and their measurement.

The PPA in Tartu says that it hopes this approach will cause drivers to travel at responsible speeds at all times and not simply slow down on spotting a warning sign.

"We have seen examples where a PPA official measuring traffic speeds, see some drivers reduce their speed when they see a warning sign," Reimaa said.

A speed camera, minus any advance warnings, recorded 169 speeding violations on Wednesday alone on Kroonuaia, a major, if somewhat meandering thoroughfare in central Tartu, the report said.

Tallinn has no plans to follow Tartu's example, however, saying that: "The use of this warning sign is somewhat advisable and has a precautionary intention," said Hannes Kullamäe, head of the PPA's Northern Prefecture traffic monitoring center.

"We play around with the distance [between a speed camera and] all warning signs - 500 meters, a kilometer, ten kilometers, so no clear pattern emerges to drivers," he went on.

A speed camera on Narva mnt in Tallinn "flashed" seven times in 20 minutes, the report added.

Andrus Reimaa in Tartu added that mobile, hand-held speeding cameras have the effect of detecting all instances of speeding, which can lead to hundreds of violations recorded in a built-up area. In general, he said that speeding was on the rise.

As to actual speed excesses, the PPA says that within city limits, violations are generally 10-15 km/h above the speed limit.

Fines are calculated by multiplying by three the number of kph over the limit that a driver was doing, so 15 km/h over the limit should see a driver hit by a €45 fine.

Speed limits in Estonia are generally 50 km/h in built-up areas, rising to 90 km/h on highways outside towns, and 110 km/h on some highways in the summer months.

More serious infringements can lead to arrest or fines of over €1,000.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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