Average speed cameras not the end as we know it


It would be easy to be gloomy about the arrival of new roadside furniture alongside another classic driving route, such as I discovered while in North Wales to shoot the M4 CS. Having rather enjoyed the drive up the western leg of this well-known three-sided route around the Welsh hills the sight of freshly dug earth around poles topped with ominous yellow boxes had me feeling... thoughtful.

We may grudgingly accept average speed cameras as a feature of our Monday to Friday driving, the crawl through endless roadworks as the motorway network is inexorably 'upgraded' to smart status now a feature of the daily grind. But when it goes beyond the A-B and into recreational routes it can seem like the creeping death of the great British driving road is gathering pace.

It's easy to take such things personally, especially when it appears so deliberately pitched at enthusiasts on two wheels and four, such as happened on the Cat & Fiddle. The reactionary petrolhead response would be to confuse the finger-wagging fun police with the valuable job done by the diminishing number of real ones, ignoring the fact that locals who live near these roads have justifiable concerns about them being celebrated as some sort of unofficial Nordschleife by visiting hoons.


I'm not about to argue the kind of civil disobedience some might advocate, such as ripping through the gears into triple figures and parking up for a fag mid-way between the cameras. And, let's face it, if you're regularly recording point-to-point averages high enough to score a conviction you've likely got bigger issues. But as the disconnect between performance and sensation grows ever wider, cars and bikes get faster but less engaging and more and more roads sprout cameras what's the keen driver to do?

Well, you could go and buy an MX-5. Go on, you knew it was coming. Even I'll accept this isn't necessarily the answer to everything though, the alternative option of buying an older car enjoyable at more realistic speeds opening the field somewhat. Of the two CS generations we were shooting that day the E46 would give you more at sensible speeds than the M4 equivalent, that's for sure.

But to see if you can enjoy an averaged road in a modern performance car I returned this week with a Megane 280 Cup to test the not especially scientific theory that treating these roads as a kind of regularity trial might be the secret to enjoying them responsibly. Without losing the fun factor. Perhaps not as romantic as the dream of the open road but the old adage 'straights are for fast cars, corners are for fast drivers' can inform a new approach.

So back off. Tempting as it may be to nail it when the coast is apparently clear you're 'wasting' more enjoyable speed you could be appreciating elsewhere. Think quality, not quantity. Which isn't to say you're then free to take every blind corner flat out. More that you consider where you might want to carry it and enjoy loading the chassis through well-sighted corners, a sensation you can still appreciate even in something as grippy and capable as the Megane.


With the dulcet tones of Reg Local in my head - we used some of these very roads for our training sessions a couple of years back - I applied a more methodical approach through observation, road position and a more disciplined use of the throttle. Which all sounds terribly worthy. But actually brings fresh challenges and enjoyment derived from more than just numbers.

Not to say tactically resetting the average speed on your trip computer isn't a good idea but it's surprising just how much fun you can have in a modern performance car between two fixed points. Without spending the next 14 days pacing up and down the hallway waiting for the letter to drop.

Of course, there are those who may advocate a more direct response involving pitchforks, burning tyres, dodgy numberplates or ranting from a keyboard, freshly folded tin foil hat in place. The more uplifting reaction is to accept these things are only going to get more prevalent and that the enthusiast driver has to adapt if the simple joy of being at the wheel is to prevail.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (302) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Esceptico 06 May 2019

    Sorry but this article is tosh.

    A few years back I went on a tour of Scotland with some fellow PHers (mainly GT3 owners). I forget where we were on the second night but it was on the west coast. I needed to get back home so left really early. From looking at the map I had two possible routes which were roughly go south then east or east and south. Unfortunately I chose the later. I can’t remember the road I ended up on but it was about 120 miles of average speed camera controlled hell. Ruined the journey home as I was spending the whole time checking my speed and praying for the average speed cameras to disappear.

    I don’t object to the average speed cameras on motorways but extending them to normal A and B roads will further kill the enjoyment of driving / riding.

  • Cobnapint 06 May 2019

    ASCs are a ball ache on a motorway, but a ball ache you can manage without too much stress by engaging the services of your cruise control.
    On B road it's a different matter, there may be slower drivers you may or may not dare to overtake, there's twists/turns and a whole manner of other things to concentrate on without having the additional stress of the nanny state threatening to laden you with several years of increased premiums, points on your license and possible disciplinary action at work.

  • Vee12V 06 May 2019

    Esceptico said:
    Sorry but this article is tosh.
    100%. I cannot understand why you'd want to defend the average speed cam BS.

  • Don Roque 06 May 2019

    Yeah but not thanks, fk average speed cameras.

  • SOL111 06 May 2019

    Esceptico said:
    Sorry but this article is tosh.

    A few years back I went on a tour of Scotland with some fellow PHers (mainly GT3 owners). I forget where we were on the second night but it was on the west coast. I needed to get back home so left really early. From looking at the map I had two possible routes which were roughly go south then east or east and south. Unfortunately I chose the later. I can’t remember the road I ended up on but it was about 120 miles of average speed camera controlled hell. Ruined the journey home as I was spending the whole time checking my speed and praying for the average speed cameras to disappear.

    I don’t object to the average speed cameras on motorways but extending them to normal A and B roads will further kill the enjoyment of driving / riding.
    Personally I find it relatively straightforward.

    Unless you're looking to exceed the speed limits by 50-100% (as much as possible) it's not too difficult to still enjoy the drive.

    Any number of bends on an A and B road will kill your average speed considerably, especially if a number of blind ones are thrown in. This will facilitate exceeding the limit between bends should you desire.

    Obviously if you're the sort of person who takes blind and hairpin bends at NSL then this might grate but IMHO that sort of driving should be reserved for the track.

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