Godfrey Bloom: UK Speed Cameras

Godfrey Bloom, the Honorary President of Mises UK, this afternoon spoke on BBC Radio Leeds about UK speed cameras. If you would like to hear his interview with the host, Andrew Edwards, please click on the link below.

There is a two minute introduction by the host. Godfrey Bloom starts speaking at 2:09.


  1. Good old Godfrey – spot on as usual. These cameras are not about safety, they are about control. The message is “Just do as the government tells you and everything will be fine”. “Drive at 32 mph in a 30 limit and you are an anti-social homicidal maniac.” As Godfrey says, these limits are completely arbitrary.

  2. Excellent interview – it’s entertaining and informative, and it’s a rare example of a good BBC interviewer who plays Devil’s advocate but gives Bloom space to express his side of it.

    I’m not sure I agree with Godfrey Bloom or other libertarians about this. I think drivers get a lot of say on this topic and often have all the running, but there is another side to it that needs to be considered.

    First, yes, abolish all speed limits on motorways – the Germans manage it fine. I agree with that, there are few accidents on motorways anyway.

    But….you need speed regulations on other roads, where most accidents happen, and even in a pristine libertarian society, it would be necessary for private owners to impose safety regulations as conditions of use, including regulations on speed, safety equipment, car specifications, etc. It’s unrealistic to deny this.

    Speed cameras are obnoxious, I accept that. I also accept that they can result in injustice, and I note the point made by Bloom about how they have replaced real policing. At the same time, there are more cars on the road and cameras and automatic traps are an efficient means for catching violators, so from a purely practical point-of-view, you can’t blame the police for using them. I do think the police in this country deserve lots of criticism – we have still, just, the world’s most professional police, but at the same time, their priorities are dubious, to say the least. But that being said, how can we then criticise police priorities if they adopt efficient methods for enforcing traffic laws? Surely that’s a double standard on the part of police critics.

    Drivers often forget that the speed limits are limits, not necessarily the speed at which you should drive. I remember when I was learning to drive (about 20-odd years ago now – I passed first time and also passed my advanced driving test). I was told by my instructor to drive up to the speed limit when I could. This was drilled into me during my basic training as a learner, and was also reinforced to me as an advanced driving doctrine. I think the reason for it was that, at least in those days, it was considered important for a driver to effuse confidence and even certain amount of aggression behind the wheel. I did as I was told of course for the purpose of passing the tests, but I didn’t agree with the advice because it seemed to me that:

    (i). the speed at which you drive is down to the judgement of the driver; and,
    (ii). the purpose of the speed limit is to provide an upper safety limit in order to assist the driver’s good judgement in (i) above, the speed limit being determined according to road types and local enactments sensitive to conditions.

    That seems eminently reasonable to me. I don’t drive any more now and haven’t for very many years – I always disliked it – but let’s suppose I find myself behind the wheel. If I am in a 30 mph zone, I don’t necessarily accelerate up to 30 mph. I have regard to the conditions and even in good conditions, I will be below the speed limit, and I should be a sufficiently competent driver to ‘know’ my car and know how to stay below the speed limit.

    I agree that catching somebody just over the limit can be unjust and heavy-handed, as can be catching-out young and novice drivers who aren’t yet used to driving and suffer from inexperience. But it is not always unjust and often when drivers protest about it, what they are really doing is moaning about the fact that they have been caught breaking the law, which in turn is often the result of their own poor attitude to driving.

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