Safety assured: What role will technology play in delivering a safe transport network?

In one of the winning essays from the 2024 ITS UK Early Careers Essay Competition, Alison Gibson of Clearview Intelligence discusses how a fatal HGV crash in Fairlie, North Ayrshire, led to the implementation of innovative, real-time speed compliance technology that aims to enhance road safety.

Safety assured: What role will technology play in delivering a safe transport network?

Safety assured: What role will technology play in delivering a safe transport network?

On 14 February 2013, a tragic incident occurred on the A78 in the village of Fairlie, North Ayrshire, when a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) collided with a residential property, tragically killing the house inhabitant. This incident led to an innovative solution utilising technological advancement, the first of its kind in the UK, which aims to both positively influence drivers’ behaviour and tackle non-speed compliance in real time.

It is presented as a progressive approach to enhancing road safety[1], supported by an analysis of the efficacy of traditional enforcement methods in advancing road safety beyond mere deterrence. It also addresses attitudes and public perceptions, emphasising the necessity for a speed compliance system deemed both equitable and efficient.

The Vision Zero initiative, which strives to eradicate all road fatalities and severe injuries, underscores the pressing need for action. In 2022, a total of 770 people were killed in built-up areas in the UK, an increase of 8% from the previous year1. This emphasises a call to address preventable road deaths, highlighting the pivotal role that technology can play in delivering a safe transport network.

Furthermore, a study conducted by the RAC on drivers’ opinions reveals that fewer drivers admit to breaking the speed limit on the UK’s motorways or 60mph roads in 2023. However, there has been no change in reported speeding on 30mph or 20mph roads2. This further highlights the need for greater interventions on these road types.

Attitudes and public perception

Attitudes and perceptions of speed enforcement strategies vary greatly depending on factors such as education, past experiences, risk perception and cognitive dissonance, which can pose as a challenge when implementing new speed enforcement schemes.

While 71% of the public in the UK is reported to strongly believe that the sole purpose of speed cameras is to save lives3, 58% of individuals believe that the motivation behind their installation is rooted in generating revenue4. A study conducted by Griffiths in 2023 sheds light on this perspective, revealing that fines collected from these technologies contribute substantially to an annual revenue of nearly £10 million6.

In addition, recent insights gained from a freedom of information request disclose a noteworthy statistic – almost half of the speed cameras in England and Wales are currently non-operational7. This revelation raises pertinent questions about the effectiveness of these devices in fulfilling their intended purpose.

In examining the effectiveness of speed cameras in enhancing road safety, it is crucial to consider public perceptions and actual outcomes. When comparing types of speed cameras, RAC reported in 2018 that 79% of 2,000 respondents found average speed cameras to be the most effective, with only 9% favouring fixed location cameras8. This sentiment aligns with the perception of fairness, as 53% of individuals perceived average speed cameras as more equitable to drivers who briefly drift above the speed limit accidentally, providing a more nuanced approach to enforcement.

According to a report from RAC in 2023, a significant 28% of drivers do not believe that they will be caught by speed cameras, suggesting a potential gap in their deterrent effect2. This raises questions about the efficacy of penalties imposed after a speeding incident has occurred, as they may not effectively contribute to real-time road safety improvements.

The need for a comprehensive strategy becomes apparent when addressing the dynamic nature of road safety challenges. It could be argued that a more holistic and dynamic approach is needed, one that seamlessly integrates technology with other safety measures, that is considered both fair and has immediate and tangible benefits.

Technology’s role in delivering a safe transport network

The Fairlie tragedy had a significant impact on the local community, serving as a catalyst for advocating for road safety improvements. In response, Transport Scotland instructed Scotland TranServ, their operating company for the Southwest Unit, to conduct traffic surveys. The findings revealed the drivers persistently exceeding the 30mph speed limit.

Several traffic calming measures were implemented, including vehicle-activated signs on the outer approaches, along with new road markings such as dragon’s teeth, speed limit roundels and ‘SLOW’ markings. Despite these efforts, ongoing surveys indicated a significant number of vehicles within the village still exceeded the speed limit, prompting the need for additional safety measures.

In light of the persistent road safety challenges, Scotland TranServ engaged in discussions with Clearview Intelligence to explore innovative ways of influencing driver behaviour, further reducing the average speed through the village. Consequently, they decided to invest in a pioneering scheme, the first of its kind in the UK. This initiative leveraged the existing traffic signals in the village centre to discourage speeding.


The design, managed and implemented by Clearview Intelligence, in collaboration with supply chain partners Dynniq Group and Coeval Ltd, incorporated advanced wireless vehicle speed detection, speed-activated signs and traffic signals.

This comprehensive approach aimed to alert drivers exceeding the speed limit by activating a speed warning sign. Subsequently, for those who failed to reduce their speed, the traffic signal transitioned to red, forcing them to come to a complete stop.

Approaching vehicle speeds were calculated using two Clearview Intelligence M100 magnetometer wireless vehicle sensors strategically placed at 136m to 144m from the stop line in both directions. A notable advantage of this wireless detection technology was its ability to eliminate the need for 280m of expensive ducting and trenching. This not only avoided adverse impacts on traffic congestion and disruption, but also prevented potential damage to the road surface on this heavily used route.

Facilitating the wireless transmission of vehicle speed information to the traffic signals enabled aproactive response. Drivers exceeding the 30mph limit experienced extended journey times through the village and swiftly adapted, learning to moderate their speed to avoid triggering the traffic signal.

Clearview Intelligence ensured complex operational configurations, ensuring that the traffic lights changed to red safely and promptly, without posing any danger to road or pedestrian users.

Prominent speed-activated signs on the approach to the junction, along with additional offside secondary signal heads, were complemented by refreshed road markings and an upgraded road surface with high friction dressing.

In contrast to the traditional method of using speed enforcement cameras as a deterrent, this initiative aimed to positively influence driver behaviour by providing incentives for compliance rather than relying on punitive measures. It acknowledged that people will sometimes make mistakes and mitigated the consequences of those mistakes, or outright noncompliance, to prevent serious injuries or fatalities, aligning with the principles of the Safe Systems Approach.

Cost benefits

Taking into consideration the:

  • Cost components of a scheme like Fairlie
  • The associated economic costs of killed or seriously injured (KSI)
  • KSI reduction targets.

It is possible to determine that on average £11.28 is made in cost savings for every £1.00 of investment.


When considering enforcement technology’s role in delivering a safe transport system, it is asserted that a more holistic and dynamic approach is needed, one that seamlessly integrates technology with other safety measures to address non-compliance in real time.

The incident in Fairlie serves as a poignant reminder of the devastating consequences of excessive speed in built up areas. Yet, from this tragedy has sprung a revolutionary solution.

The pioneering partnership between Clearview Intelligence and Scotland TranServ demonstrates the transformative power of technology when guided by compassion and purpose.

The wireless detection technology not only proved effective in slowing down speeding vehicles and influencing driver behaviour, but it also demonstrated cost-effective implementation without causing disruptions to the heavily used route. Unlike conventional measures, the Fairlie project emphasises positive reinforcement, providing incentives for compliance rather than relying solely on deterrence and penalties.

By utilising technology, it represents a paradigm shift in road safety strategies. As we strive for a future with fewer preventable tragedies on our roads, it stands as a beacon of innovation and a testament to the potential of proactive, technology-driven solutions that take us one step closer to Vision Zero, where safety is not just a goal but an assured outcome.


  1. Department For Transport (2021). Reported road accidents, vehicles and casualties tables for Great Britain. [online] GOV.UK. Available at: sets/reported-road-accidents-vehicles-and-casualties-tables-for-great-britain.[2][3]
  2.[4] (2023). Report on Motoring | Motoring Insights | RAC. [online] Available at:[5] [Accessed 18 Jan. 2024].
  3. Hill, L., Chauhan, A. and Cereso, I. (2018). Mobility • Safety • Economy • Environment Automated Enforcement A public attitude survey. [online] Available at:[6]content/uploads/Automated_enforcement_IPSOS_Mori_final_July_2018.pdf[7].
  4. GOV.UK. (2018). British social attitudes survey (ATT03). [online] Available at:[8] and-road-travel#full-publication-update-history[9] [Accessed 23 Jan. 2024].
  5. Griffiths, H. (2023). Exclusive: Authorities spend over £28m maintaining speed cameras. [online] Available at:[10] revealed?irclickid=zX8Rn3TmQxyPW%3AuX4IR6PSqsUkH2e7UNGVfbRc0&irgwc=1&utm_sourc[11]e=affiliate&utm_medium=10078&utm_campaign=af_impact_radius_Skimbit%20Ltd.&affiliate_ref=[12] 10078[13] [Accessed 16 Jan. 2024].
  6. Road Safety GB. (2023). Concerns raised as data shows nearly half of speed cameras inactive. [online] Available at:[14] speed-cameras-inactive/[15] [Accessed 16 Jan. 2024].
  7.[16] (2018). Average speed cameras better at slowing cars | RAC Drive. [online] Available at:[17] slowing-cars-down/[18] [Accessed 22 Jan. 2024].
  8. Norbury, F. (2020). Roads policing and its contribution to road safety. [online] Available at:[19]

Alison Gibson is the Business Development Coordinator at Clearview Intelligence.


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