All speed cameras on motorways are to be painted yellow by October 2016 in a bid to make them more visible to motorists and to improve road safety, as part of a new agreement between Highways England and the Department for Transport (DfT).

The grey cameras have been criticised as being ‘money-making tools’ by members of the public since their introduction in Birmingham nine years ago. The yellow paint should make speed cameras more visible to drivers, making them less likely to brake suddenly when driving at higher speeds.

Statistics from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) found that 60% of high-mileage drivers thought that unmarked cameras had little use other than to create revenue, and in 2013 reports found that the number of road traffic collisions increased in 21 locations with speed cameras.

The change should help to alleviate dangerous braking, when drivers see a camera at the last minute and brake hard, a potential cause for accidents in itself. The DfT has gone on to say that they will keep the costs of the change low by doing it during the standard renewal date.

Helen Williams, a senior road accident solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Bristol office said: “Making speed cameras more visible across the UK may prevent sharp braking and accidents that result and it’s good to see the DfT acknowledging public concerns, but you have to ask what message we are sending to those who are willing to break the law. If making the cameras obvious means that bad drivers can speed everywhere else with impunity that isn’t a good thing. What we really need is a system that encourages safe driving and that means, if we have obvious cameras, that we have an increase in unmarked or marked motorway police patrols, but due to cutbacks that won’t be happening.

“For all the fanfare around this announcement its worth remembering that there are around 6,000 speed cameras in the UK, and motorway cameras only account for 200 of these. As well as this, motorways are generally the safest roads to drive on, accounting for roughly 5% of all accidents, so there are clearly far more important areas for the DfT to focus on.

“If there is to be a genuine reduction in the number of accidents that occur on our roads what we really need is far greater and more innovative investment from the government and the DfT in road safety and road infrastructure improvements to benefit all road users.”