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Labour moots using speed cameras to reward law-abiding drivers

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The new shadow transport minister has suggested that the country's network of average speed cameras could be used to monitor and reward careful drivers with prizes, cheaper car tax, or by deducting penalty points from their licence.

Conscious that her party was perceived as anti-motorist when in government, Angela Eagle suggested such uses for the cameras "might make people understand there is a point to [them]" she told The Daily Telegraph.

"The speed cameras are capturing the data, the speed and number plates of the cars that go through," she said.

"I have seen lately this idea actually if you were to use the information you get from them to have a lottery, have a draw of those who drive under the speed limit.

"There is an incentive for good behaviour which is perhaps better psychologically than a disincentive for bad behaviour."

The antipathy between the Labour government and motorists peaked when ministers announced plans in 2007 to introduce pay-per-mile road usage charges, based on vehicle tracking technology. In response, 1.8 million signed a petition on the then-new Downing street petitions site, and the government was forced to back down.

Eagle accepted that motorists perceived Labour's enthusiasm for speed cameras was motivated by concern for revenue generation.

"It was felt that cameras were about catching them on the hop and fining them, money raising arrangement rather than a road safety arrangement,"

However, much criticism over the Labour road policies was prompted not only by their cost, but also by concern over government intrusion and information gathering.

Eagle's ideas for average speed cameras do not address such privacy criticisms, and in fact might intensify them. Using the system to capture and store more data about law-abiding drivers, even if it is to enter them into a prize lottery, may not represent the break with the past in the minds of voters that Ed Miliband envisaged when he said his party's policy programme was a blank sheet of paper. ®

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