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Variable Speed Camera Comments from UK Motorists

Welcome to the SpeedCamerasUK.com variable speed camera comments page. Here you will find comments left by UK motorists with regards to variable speed cameras. We have lots of different comment pages relating to other speed camera types e.g. mobile speed cameras, average speed cameras and speed limit comments. If you would like to make a comment about variable speed cameras, please complete the online form below.

If you have a question relating to variable speed cameras, please see our variable speed camera question and answer page, it may have already been asked by another UK driver. Read and learn more about variable safety cameras.

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Laura from South Yorkshire writes...

I was driving between junction 28 and 29 of the m1 northbound at dusk when the speed went 60mph. I saw up ahead lots of flashing and thought it was lightening!! Then saw the 50mph sign and got flashed myself. The light that flashed was so bright it was like strobe lighting and I actually was dazzled by it. Is this a safe way of catching speeding?

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Paul Cutler from England writes...

Last night after midnight coming home on the M25 from the A1 interchange on the way to the M3 .The road was fairly busy but not heavy. Suddenly without any warning all lanes were restricted
to 40mph the limit then went up to 50mph and then went back down to 40mph. On the last 40mph restriction a lot of speed cameras were flashing as I think a lot of drivers were not expecting a reverse in the restrictions and were still doing 50mph. After this there was no restriction at all and no sign of an incident. I am pretty certain I was within the speed limit but a lot of people going both ways were flashed. It would be interesting to see how many people receive fines this friday morning compared to other times.

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Gary Leach from Cheshire writes...

I was recently travelling south on the M1, light traffic and good weather conditions - no incidents, debris, slip road queues, etc. Yet from junction 33 to Junction 28 a distance of over 20 miles, the 60mph speed signs were on. This is a 4 lane section of motorway recently refurbished and equipped with numerous speed cameras. The Highways Agency has the means to monitor road and traffic conditions continuously so how can they legally (and morally) justify the imposition of a speed limit lower than the statutory national level without any evidence? Is it simply to raise money from speeding fines?

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Steve from South Yorkshire writes...

I was recently travelling south on the M1, light traffic and good weather conditions - no incidents, debris, slip road queues, etc. Yet from junction 33 to Junction 28 a distance of over 20 miles, the 60mph speed signs were on. This is a 4 lane section of motorway recently refurbished and equipped with numerous speed cameras. The Highways Agency has the means to monitor road and traffic conditions continuously so how can they legally (and morally) justify the imposition of a speed limit lower than the statutory national level without any evidence? Is it simply to raise money from speeding fines?

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Gary Leach from Cheshire writes...

I have just received a NIP from West Yorkshire Police stating I was speeding on the M62 eastbound between junctions 27 and 28. It states I was doing 70mph and the speed limit at the time was  60mph. I don't recall seeing any variable speed limit signs or restrictions. Should I think about appealing?

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Nick Band from Derbyshire writes...

Travelling home, I joined the M20 at junction 6, no reduced speed signage, and no gantry signs illuminated on acceleration slip road, believed it to be 70mph, now I've been told it's 50mph! I'm now looking at 3 tickets in as many days, not happy!

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Anonimous from Spain writes...

I have not received a NIP yet but I think I will because the gantries were showing 60mph (no retention or accidents) at the M25 but the rest of drivers were driving slightly faster and I was felling unsafe at that point so I increased my speed a little bit to avoid getting rear ended. I have lived in the UK for 5 years and I have been driving for 3 and I've never got a fine so I am even considering in selling my car and not driving again in this country if I get a disproportionate fine in a few days.

Having said that, I have the impression that everything in the UK, and also in the EU, is planned to collect/steal even more money from tax payers using as an excuse our safety. Let's be honest, accidents are going to happen for one reason or another and what it needs to be controlled it is the maximum speed depending on the sort of road you are driving on, instead of changing the speed limits at someone's discretion, which is, in my opinion, nonsense. I think that anybody with a little bit of common sense are going to slow down if they see a retention or accident warnings. 

On the other hand, I think the best way people can fight this is stopping using the cars, which would mean the collapse of the motor industry, insurance companies and others, and start to use other means of transport like the train or buses, demanding of course better service and much lower
prices since they are ridiculous too. Just for your information, in Spain a monthly pass for the train is 70 euros for an adult (includes trains, tube and buses) and people still complain about that because it is understood that it should be affordable for everybody.

P.S. I get more and more scared about the fact that I have to spend too much time looking at my speedometer rather than the road.

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Suzanne from South Gloucestershire writes...

I was travel on M4 Junction 20-19 at 10pm. Smart motorway, no variable speed limit was show on the gantry, however I didn't realise they still registered your speed in you were over 70mph? Do they need to display a sign? This is new it hasn't done this before.

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John from Hertfordshire writes...

Just been had - the right word - 59mph in a 50mph area. Smart motorway signs changing all the time. We probably had set our cruise at 60mph after passing numerous 60mph signs. Why on an open motorway were we not at 70mph? We always use cruise control to set limits. Camera right on the sign so no doubt  but a sign showing debris on motorway so speed limit probably lowered from 60mph to 50mph. A danger to other users on the M1 never!

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John Passelow from West Yorkshire writes...

04:52 on a Wednesday morning junction 26 M1, weather fine road clear fairly light traffic doing 70mph. Overhead lights come on saying 60mph limit in force just as approach as I take my foot the acceslerator flash flash speeding ticket. No warning, no time to slow dowbn reasonably without braking suddenly risking an accident. These cameras far from being for safety cause accidents. Accidents numbers on so called smart motorways are going up and up each year. Don't believe me check the governments figures. Policing on the cheap, gathering taxes, and killing and injuring drivers and passengers that is what smart motorways acheive. Shameful Nottingham Safety Camera Partnership. Ha ha, should be Nottingham extortionists.

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Michael from East Midlands writes...

Are the Highways Agency just using variable speed cameras on empty motorways just to make revenues? On the M5 junction 5 to 6 variable speed cameras are in use for no reason. The next sign 200yards say national speed limit it looks like its being used as a cash cow for revenue.

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Peter from Northamptonshire writes...

The great scam caught on M20 in Kent 58mph in a reduced 50mph gantry zone. I had just joined motorway at 7:40pm junction 6 not even got to gantry and speed changed .I like many people travel thousands of miles across the country in the course of my job on dangerous pot holed motorways we are all victims of these legal stealth cameras. No road safety just revenue boost disgraceful.

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Kevin Winson from UK writes...

Have had a PCN for a variable speed camera on the M1, the matrix on the gantries were flashing 60mph, 60mph, 50mph, 60mph and then the national speed limit sign, the camera was on the gantry flashing 50mph and I was doing 58mph. It was 4.40am and there was nothing on the information boards to say there was any hazards and you can actually make out the gantry flashing the national speed limit sign from the gantry with the camera on it! Am I the only one who thinks this a harsh?

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Glyn jones from Staffordshire writes...

Variable speed of 30 mph, 11.00am quiet Sunday morning M5 Taunton. There were no lane closures, no highway maintenance and very light traffic why then a 30mph in operation? The variable speed limit gantry camera are controlled by a flick of switch by the control room. My question is was the operator a sleep or just instructed to raise some revenue because there was no evidence in applying such a low speed on a relative deserted section of motorway at this time?

How does one check the authority of the control room in making such of a ridiculous/frivolous decision?

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Bill Ridgeway from UK writes...

The law is very clear that speed limits must be complied with. However, there are numerous occasions in which a variable speed limit is imposed because of an incident but there is no sign to revert the speed limit to the normal level after the incident. Using common sense it is reasonable to assume the previous speed limit applies - otherwise I could, strictly speaking, proceed at, say, 20mph until I see a sign to the contrary and I'm sure Police would not like that. The motorist is caught between a fine for non compliance with a speed limit and non compliance for going at a reasonable speed. Win-win for authority.

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Christopher from Berkshire writes...

Why have variable speed limits if signs are not lit up? How are drivers supposed to know how fast they need to be going? Or is it just another way for police to rob the public of cash? Keep up the good work you robbers.

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Nanji Patel from London writes...

I have to travel almost daily on the M25 anti-clockwise section between J16 and J14 Heathrow T5 and without fail there is always a speed limit of 40mph or 50mph even if there is no incidence or an accident. It wouldn't so bad if the traffic was moving at 40mph or 50mph, but you are lucking to touch 15mph or 20mph for a long stretches. This creates a long line of nearly stationary traffic but if left to the national speed even with the volume of traffic I am sure the traffic would be moving at maybe 50mph or 60mph and not cause an unnecessary tailbacks all the way to J17 or J18.

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Katie from West Yorkshire writes...

I'm a new driver and I think I was flashed tonight on the M1, due to roadworks. In my theory revision and test there were no questions regarding variable speed limits, so I was confused to why I think I've been flashed tonight.

I think this is something that needs to be changed and added to the theory test, as I stressed that as a new driver I could possibly have 3 points on my licence when I was unaware of what variable speed limits means.

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L Johnston from New Zealand writes...

Travelling on the M25 getting to Heathrow it seems I have been caught in my rental car. I live in New Zealand and had no idea what a variable speed limit is. I have just driven 4,000 miles and get two on my way leaving the country. A bit tough on visitors don't you think?

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Roy from Hertfordshire writes...

I was travelling on the M25 between J21A and J22. It was around midnight and very little traffic, the overhead speed signs were flashing '60' and roadworks then went down to '50' and over a few more gantries.

It was still flashing '50', no cones were on the motorway and I was in lane 1 and watching the car in lane 3 which were flashing 'X' to denote lanes closed only lane 1 was open. Driving a truck I was still watching the car, they normally pull in front of you and then brake hard to get down to the speed limit!

Whilst watching the car I missed the camera gantry which was now flashing '40', the camera flashed as I was doing around 47mph the road was still clear with NO cones out, once passed the 40mph limit it went back up to 50mph, AS we started to enter the conned off lanes, this would seem to me to be entrapment lowering the speed down to 40mph by the camera when all the other before and after were flashing '50'!

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Chris Somerton from United Kingdom writes...

I got a Notice of Intention to Prosecute (NIP) after driving on the M62.

Reflecting on the times and dates I recall passing through the regular speed restriction areas Manchester then Leeds and was heading towards Hull.

The variable speed sign was turned off, 50 to 30 meters before I passed under the gantry at a steady 70mph the sign flashed up '50'- I hit the brakes, cautious of not getting rear ended by the vehicle behind me. The camera still got me at 58mph.

I'll take the fine, course, points etc - hope Greater Manchester police enjoy what money they can bleed from me, nothing better than a speed trap and a very dangerous procedure.

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Nevine from England writes...

I have just been driving on the M25 on a Sunday night at 10pm. The road was clear but suddenly the variable speed changed to 60mph then 40mph. I slowed down but then noticed traffic speeding up again. I followed on a clear road at what seemed like a slow speed but was suddenly aware of the camera flashing three or four times. I looked at my speed and noticed I was doing about 60mph. Almost a second later I drove past a notification that the speed limit was now national speed. There had been no congestion or accident. It seems that quite a few people were caught out- probably including myself. This seems extremely unfair given that the road was extremely clear and that the speed limit within seconds went from 40mph to national speed.

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John from Kent writes...

40mph variable speed limits on motorways CAUSE traffic jams.

I travel on the M20 everyday and we never had a problem with traffic flow until the variable speed limit was introduced. 40mph is just way too low, it just causes everybody to brake and compresses 2 miles of traffic into 1/2 mile until everyone stops. I also travelled on the M25 last week and the variable limits went from 60mph to 50mph to 40mph and of course at 40mph the traffic then stopped. There was no junction between these limits so no additional traffic could join the motorway. So ironic that the agency tasked with keeping the traffic moving actually stops it. Just another case of an agency trying to justify it's existence.

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Last updated: 17th February 2023