Putting into service of the speed limit recognition cameras is a common project of the Road Administration and the Police and Border Guard Board within the Estonian National Traffic Safety Program. At the end of November 2009, the Road Administration installed 16 speed limit recognition cameras to Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road that were tested first. Test period of couple of months ended successfully and these speed cameras started to work on the 10th of May 2010. In the end of the year, 8 additional speed cameras were installed to Tallinn-Pärnu-Ikla road that started to fixate exceeding of the speed limit in the 22nd of December. In 2011, the Road Administration installed 6 new additional speed measurement booths to Tallinn-Tartu-Võru-Luhamaa road and within a year, 60 985 fine notices were sent to drivers exceeding permitted speed limit who were identified by means of the speed limit recognition cameras. As of August 2012 speeding is detected by speed cameras also on Tallinn-Narva highway, where 10 measuring boxes have been installed. 45 644 warning fine notifications were sent to the drivers who exceeded the allowed speed limit according to speed cameras in 2012. Four speed measuring boxes were set up on Ääsmäe-Haapsalu highway at the end of December 2013 and during the year altogether 60 696 warning fine notifications were sent to the people who exceeded the speed limit. During the year 2014 89793 warning fine notifications were sent to the people who exceeded the speed limit.
The purpose of the speed cameras is to increase the safety of all users of Estonian roads. In Europe, some 20 per cent of traffic deaths are caused by excessive speed, and around 8,500 persons die in each year as a result of speeding. Efficient traffic supervision is required to save lives and technical equipment – speed cameras – is an important element of this supervision. The experiences of other countries indicate that introduction of cameras reduces the number of traffic accidents with human casualties by 17-20 per cent and the total number of traffic accidents by around 10 per cent. As the cameras record all incidents of speeding, they promote compliance with the traffic code, thus helping to reduce the number of traffic accidents and improving the traffic culture in general.
The benefits of an automated speed camera in comparison to speed measurements by a police patrol include efficiency in discovering violations and faster formalisation of the procedure. Thanks to the photos taken by the camera, there is no need for a police officer to stop the car after speeding was detected and the procedure will not take place at the site of violation. The speed cameras have an effective and direct impact on the behaviour of road users, because the equipment records all violations within the range of the camera for 24 hours a day, irrespective of the weather. The speed camera treats all speeders equally, excluding situations where, after one speeder has been stopped, the next driver is able to continue speeding freely, hoping that he will not be caught.
The introduction of speed cameras, or automated speed enforcement, is part of the Estonian National Traffic Safety Programme 2003-2015, with the objective to reduce the annual number of traffic deaths to 100 by the year 2015.
Benefits of automated speed enforcement:
- efficiency – the probability of discovering speeders is very high;
- speed – the decision on imposing a fine and the contestation form will be sent to the responsible user of the vehicle immediately after identification;
- economy – work processes are optimally automated and the number of persons involved in the procedure is minimal. The time and labour gained by abandoning the traditional method of processing the incidents of speeding can be utilised for discovery and prevention of other types of traffic code violations;
- reliability – speeders are always photographed, the risk of error is minimal;
- equal treatment – all cases will be recorded. Each km/h over the speed limit always corresponds to a statutory fixed amount of fine (1 km/h = 3 €).