In order to alleviate the danger caused by reckless driving, many communities have turned to installing highly visible speed cameras on well traveled roads. However, researchers at Israel’s Haifa University have found that while visible cameras do in fact slow down drivers, they do so for only a brief period of time.
On the other hand, hidden speed cameras, backed up by signs that inform the public of their presence, make for much safer driving, at least according to the Haifa study.
The study used a simulation to compare prominently displayed cameras with hidden speed cameras and recorded the average speed traveled over a specific distance. The findings showed that when drivers knew there was a visible speed camera in the area they would temporarily slow down. The problem was, they’d stomp on the gas again as soon as they got past the camera, on average driving at about 57 mph. However, if the drivers knew there were speed cameras in the area, but didn’t know where they were located, their average speed dropped down to about 41 mph.
The study found that the hidden cams also greatly reduced “kangaroo driving” — slowing down while approaching a camera and quickly accelerating after passing it.
Not surprisingly, the study suggests that law enforcement agents opt for hidden speed cameras over the more common visible models.
More research needs to be put into this issue to help us all drive more safely. But hidden cams certainly seem like an effective law enforcement tool.
And remember: just because you don’t see a speed cam, that doesn’t mean you’re free to channel your inner Danica Patrick.