One third of Britain’s drivers are hit by a penalty notice each year, the equivalent of one every 2 1/2 seconds, according to new research.
This means about 12 million of Britain’s 40 million drivers receive a penalty charge each year.
The costs to motorists rack up to about £840 million ($1.1 billion) per year, with local councils collecting £371 million ($491.9 million) of the total, while £108 million ($143 million) goes to the police and £25 million ($33 million) goes to the DVLA.
But when including what drivers pay in speed awareness course fees and penalties paid to private parking companies, the total cost of the fines could reach over £1 billion ($1.3 billion).
The study found that the majority of the fines are parking penalties of up to 8 million fines per year. Following closely behind are the 2.5 million fines for local authority bus lane and box junction penalties.
The 12 million figure does not include the 1.2 million drivers required to take a speed awareness course instead of receiving a penalty. The course can cost up to £91 ($120).
The findings for motoring charity, the RAC, re-ignites the debate of whether the automated technology is creating a “cash cow” for local councils and the police.
In the report, Dr. Adam Snow, a lecturer in criminology at Liverpool Hope University, said that while cameras don’t care for colour, religion, race, or gender, they cannot provide discretion or common sense.
“Quite how those who ensure the safety of our roads through enforcement can provide both cost effectiveness and justice is a challenge that requires debate and engaged minds,” he said.
He added, “I hope this report provides the start of that debate about the acceptability and appropriate place for automation in road traffic enforcement.”
Dr Snow asks whether “the main driver” for increased reliance on cameras catching motorists out is cuts to police budgets.
Director of the RAC Foundation Steve Gooding said, “To maintain its legitimacy, automatic enforcement must be viewed by the public as proportionate.
“While wrongdoing should be punished and not excused, a decline in front-line policing risks an imbalanced approach to enforcement. Millions of motorists are being caught by camera, often for arguably minor misdemeanours, whilst more serious and harmful behaviour goes undetected.”
Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, told Sky News, “Income raised through on-street parking charges and fines is spent on running parking services and any surplus is only spent on essential transport projects, such as tackling the £12 billion roads repair backlog and creating new parking spaces.”