Mobile traffic cameras have caught twice as many people as last year

A mobile speed camera.
A mobile speed camera. Source: ERR

Mobile traffic cameras, which have been in use for two years now, have raised a lot of money for the state this year. However, according to a traffic lawyer, there is one problem with them, most of the fines are for speeding below 9 km/h over the limit.

Mobile speed cameras have registered 107,653 infringements in the first six months of this year, which is more than €2.1 million in fines. Last year, 114,252 violations were registered in total.

At the same time, 82 percent of speeding recorded with mobile cameras stays in the low range of 3-9 km/h over the limit. Together with the large number of fines, this indicates that most of the fixed infringements occur in a steady flow of traffic.

In the first six months of this year, 33,950 violations were recorded with stationary cameras, and last year, a total of 87,496 violations were registered.

The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) has eight mobile speed cameras. As of March 2020, there were 67 stationary measuring booths in Estonia, on which there were 44 measuring systems.

Sirle Loigo, the leading law enforcement officer of the PPA, said the low number of violations in 2020 can be explained by the emergency situation when fewer people were driving. She said mobile cameras are being used more often.

"The high number of fines recorded by mobile cameras may be due to the fact that these devices provide a moment of surprise that stationary cameras do not constantly provide to drivers driving on the same way," Loigo said.

Loigo said that the purpose of mobile cameras is to calm traffic, not to record violations and impose fines.

"For this purpose, the police also use signs indicating speed measurement, the use of which is not obligatory, but placing them in front of the camera helps to prolong the effect of the camera," Loigo said.

The intervention threshold is the same for both stationary and mobile speed cameras and includes the expanded uncertainty of the speed camera.

Lawyer Indrek Sirk said he has a twofold view of mobile traffic cameras. On the one hand, he pointed out that it is extremely important for road safety that people did not know the location of the camera. On the other hand, he considers that the low intervention level of mobile cameras is unfair.

Sirk said that while a police patrol usually tolerates speeding of 10 km/h, the intervention limit for mobile cameras is lower. He said that speeding below 10 km/h accounts for the majority of fixed violations in the case of mobile cameras, but in patrols, there is an almost opposite trend, where such violations are hardly recorded.

"Undoubtedly, [mobile cameras] are effective, but we should talk about the intervention threshold," Sirk said.

At the same time, Sirk found that in some ways mobile cameras are fairer than patrols, because a patrol takes one offender from the traffic flow and deals with him, but at the same time other speeders can escape.

Heli Ainjärv, a lecturer in traffic safety at Tallinn University, said that mobile traffic cameras justify themselves. "If people don't know where the cameras are, then maybe they will drive slower everywhere," Ainjärv said.

At the same time, Ainjärv said that she agrees with Indrek Sirk that mobile speed cameras and patrols should detect violations at the same rate.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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