Social media has been awash in recent days with claims that a series of speed cameras on smart motorways have just been activated and are enforcing harsh punishments on drivers.
Messages shared on Twitter, Facebook and via messaging apps claim that â€œsmartâ€ cameras on the M1 and M25 have been set to auto-generate a ticket to any driver exceeding 72mph. They also claim drivers will be given six penalty points and that anyone topping 90mph being hit with an instant ban. Some messages also claim that the same has happened on the M6 and M42.
The rumours claim that the cameras in variable speed limit zones have been switched on permanently and will catch drivers even when there is no limit displayed and the national speed limit is in place.
However, Highways England, which oversees the nationâ€™s smart motorways said it wasnâ€™t aware of any large changes to how the cameras operate.
It confirmed that cameras in variable speed limit zones can be used to enforce the national speed limit as well but emphasised that the cameras were the responsibility of local police forces and that there was not quick way to activate or deactivate every camera on the network.
Good morning Christopher. Some sections of smart motorway in England have cameras that are always active but it is the decision of the local police force (who administer speed enforcement) as to whether they pursue prosecutions for any detected offences.
â€” Highways England (@HighwaysEngland) January 9, 2019
A spokesperson told HonestJohn.co.uk: â€œSafety cameras on smart motorways are set by each regional police force, we are unaware of any sweeping changes to the entire camera network on either the M1 or M25.
â€œIt simply isnâ€™t possible to activate or deactivate every single speed camera on the M1 or M25 at the press of a button. We have no idea where these rumours came from.”
The claims that anyone caught by the cameras would also instantly receive six points and be instantly banned for exceeding 90mph have also be rubbished.
Edmund King OBE, president of the AA, took to social media to emphasise that the punishments for speeding hadnâ€™t changed.
Lots of questions about supposed new speeding fines ie “SMART cameras on M1, M6, M42 and M25 now active, they are set at 72mph. The auto ticket generating system issues a 6 point penalty and hefty fine.” Yes cameras are active but the standard fixed penâ€¦https://t.co/136k879CEP
â€” Edmund King OBE (@AAPresident) January 10, 2019
The minimum penalty for speeding remains a Â£100 fine and three penalty points, although this can rise to as high as Â£2,500 if youâ€™re taken to court and you can be disqualified depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Speed limits also haven’t changed. Technically, anything over 70mph is breaking the law and leaves you exposed to a fixed penalty notice or prosecution but there is no suggestion that the “buffer” many police forces use to allow for calibration issues has been changed.
Read more:Â UK speeding fines â€“ how much youâ€™ll pay