Britain’s most profitable traffic camera has raked in almost £2 million in just three months after catching out motorists confused by a diversion.
The single camera is earning a staggering £150,000-a-week from unwitting drivers who stray into a street filled with temporary bus and taxi lanes.
The camera earns as much in a week as England and Chelsea football star John Terry – the country’s best-paid footballer – and is driving motorists mad.
If it stays in place for 12 months, the camera – in Victoria, Central London – is on track to issue fines totalling a staggering £8 million.
Lucrative: How the traffic camera at Victoria earns its £150,000 a week
So far, 16,123 drivers have been hit with fines of £120 each at the diversion near Victoria rail station – one of the capital’s busiest junctions – swelling Transport for London (TfL) coffers by more than £1.9 million.
The junction is used daily by thousands of motorists – many of them strangers to the capital dropping off or collecting people at the rail station and neighbouring Tube station.
Even though large temporary red signs warn drivers of the diversion off busy Vauxhall Bridge Road, motorists still see permanent signposts for Victoria which direct them to make a right turn into what is now a temporary bus lane.
Motoring organisations, which have complained about the camera, say the signs confuse drivers and this results in them straying into the bus lane.
It is then that the nation’s most lucrative traffic camera – attached to a steel pole high above the junction – records the driver’s car and number plate details.
The offence automatically generates a £120 penalty notice, which is reduced to £60 if it is paid within 14 days.
Lured into the traffic trap: Cars at the junction of Wilton Road and the Vauxhall ‘one way’ system
Mark Reed, 54, a property manager from London who was caught by the camera, said:
‘I went through this area and turned right. A week later I get a £120 ticket, and I can see from the photo that my car is there.
‘I had no idea I had done anything wrong. The signing is incredibly confusing and there’s probably going to be a lot more people fined.’
Another man, who asked not to be named, told how his wife was caught out:
‘She was very confused by the markings on the road – one of the arrows conflicted with the road signs. I think they’ve made a terrible mess of it.’
The diversion – put in place because of major roadworks in Wilton Road – has been plaguing motorists since the beginning of March and has also disrupted bus services travelling past Victoria station.
Paul Pearson, of campaign group PenaltyChargeNotice.co.uk, said that TfL’s website showed the route past Victoria station as a way of avoiding the Congestion Charge.
‘It’s disgraceful,’ he added. ‘I told TfL two months ago about this. Motorists go on their website and work out the free route and then run the risk of receiving a penalty charge notice for £120 if they’re caught out by the bus lane.
‘Motorists who have received a fine and who followed the map should appeal.
‘TfL is milking confused motorists for every penny.
‘What’s even more staggering is that I’ve seen notices sent out with pictures which don’t show the signs the car is supposed to have disobeyed.
‘It means these notices must be unenforceable. If you’re failing to comply with something, then there must be a picture of the sign which you’re failing to obey. It’s like fining a driver for going into a yellow box and not showing the yellow box.
‘This camera is raking in a huge amount. It’s basically paying for the roadworks going on there. It’s quite incredible.’
Elizabeth Box, head of research at the RAC Foundation, said:
Authorities are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that disruption at road works is kept to a minimum and that road-users receive clear directions well ahead of the obstacle.
This location has high traffic flows making it all the more important for these temporary works to be planned in a way that minimises congestion, delay, inconvenience and motorist confusion.
Published by The Mail on Sunday 25/07/2010. Read the original article on mailonsunday.co.uk