Motorists beware: Scotland's network of road safety cameras is to go digital.
Funding of £2.4 million announced by the Scottish Government will drag speed enforcement technology into the 21st century, creating a highly secure and super-efficient network of speed cameras on Scotland's roads.
The upgrade will result in all 168 fixed roadside cameras being upgraded, ending the need for officers to make regular visits to remove and develop the film then issue fines within a strict 14-day legal limit. Instead, images of motorists breaking the speed limit will be beamed instantly to four backroom offices for processing.
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Transport chiefs say this has the added bonus of deterring offenders from damaging cameras to destroy evidence of their speeding.
Vandalised cameras can be out of action for extended periods. One site at an accident blackspot near Laurencekirk on the A90 between Aberdeen and Dundee is still out of use after it was set on fire in December.
Motorists are also less likely to escape a fine due to a camera being faulty, as there will be fewer problems acquiring spare parts for the digital system.
But it is thought unlikely the changes will result in a major increase in motoring offences.
As with the existing system, not all of the 168 roadside sites will have cameras in them at any one time, with the proportion of "dummy" sites due to stay the same. A spokeswoman for Government agency Transport Scotland said many of the cameras needed replaced.
She said: "Road safety is a priority for this Government and we are making good progress towards meeting the ambitious 2020 targets set out in Scotland's Road Safety Framework.
"Safety cameras have been shown to play an important part in helping to achieve these road casualty reductions. This £2.4 million investment will see all film safety cameras that detect speeding upgraded to digital technology.
"This will increase their capacity and, in doing so, help contribute further towards keeping our roads safe."
The approach differs sharply to that deployed by the Coalition south of the Border, where funding cuts have led some local authorities to turn off all the fixed-speed cameras in their area, prompting concern from road safety groups.
Kathleen Braidwood, RoSPA's road safety officer in Scotland, said: "We welcome Transport Scotland's investment to upgrade existing safety cameras to digital cameras, as it will reduce the time previously needed to process the wet film and maintain the cameras, and will be a lot more cost-effective.
"We know there has been a reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured each year at safety camera sites in Scotland.
"For this reason, it is always a concern when reductions in investment are made in road safety, because this will have an impact on the number of road casualties as a result."
Of the 168 fixed safety camera sites across Scotland, 58 of these are on trunk roads, with the others spread between four safety camera partnership areas: Lothian & Borders (63); North East (29); Strathclyde (63) and Tayside (13).