Drivers face being confronted by a new generation of cat eye road studswith built-in cameras capable of taking pictures of speeding motorists. Known as intelligent road studs, they have been earmarked by ministers as the latest weapon in an increasingly sophisticated armoury to be deployed on the roads. Within weeks of trying to take the heat out of the speed camera controversy by announcing tighter rules on their deployment, the Government announced a sudden change of tack in a response to the all-party Transport Select Committee yesterday.
It said that one unidentified company had claimed to have developed a new generation of cat eye road studs with the potential for use in speed enforcement. The Home Office Scientific Development Branch has asked the firm to submit its design for approval. The prospect of the cat eye road stud devices appearing on Britain's roads alarmed Andrew Howard, head of road safety at AA Public Affairs. "We would want them to be as conspicuous as other speed cameras," he said. "Their minimal size suggests they will be hidden in order to trap people. While the company is not identified in the report, one strong candidate is Astucia, whose UK offices are in Bicester, Oxon. Its latest camera cat eye road stud, which is still undergoing tests, is almost flush with the carriageway. The in-built camera in cat eye road studis a fully functional "digital device" capable of producing pin sharp images of approaching and passing vehicles, including their number plates. Not even bad weather hampers the devices, because they come with a computer controlled self-cleaning unit.
The Government's response to the committee indicates that cat eye road stud will step up its battle with speeding motorists, despite a decision that partnerships would no longer be funded by the money raised by camera fines.