The big turn-off of Britain’s much-loathed speed cameras has begun.

Midnight saw Oxfordshire lead the national campaign, with 72 cameras deactivated ahead of similar moves on up to 6,000 of the devices by authorities across the country. Motorists can also breathe easier in the knowledge that many local councils are due to abandon speed traps, despite warnings from road safety campaigners.

Police across the UK have claimed that they will nonetheless be on watch for speeding motorists, after the coalition government effectively pulled the plug on the speed camera program due to budgetary constraints. Mike Penning, the Road Safety Minister, made it clear last week that central funding for the controversial fixed-cameras would be ended by the coalition, confirming earlier speculation. According to Mr Penning, the move was part of a wider approach by the government to end what he called ‘the war on the motorist’, arguing that local authorities had been overly reliant on the speed cameras rather than focusing their attention on more practical ways to reduce road casualties.

Several councils have already reported that after reducing their number of speed camera in the past, no noticeable change in accidents was seen, while iconic television host and voice of the common-driver, the BBC’s Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, argued that the cameras made no difference to the speed at which anyone drove at. Opponents of the cameras have long-argued that the system was merely a money-making scheme for the treasury.