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Speed cameras - Transport Watch comment December 2011


Paige Mitchell, in the viewpoint column of Local Transport today, 8th December, says, "excessive or inappropriate speed is the single biggest risk factor in road crashes". Probably that stems from the 30% put about by the DfT. However, reference Topic 1, the causes that were combined to yield the 30% were from LR 323 as follows:

Cause % Comment
Failure to judge another person's speed 10.7 Failure of judgment does not equal "excessive speed"?
Excessive speed 7.3 Defined as excessive if a driver is 1 mph over the limit.
Following too close 4.1 Possibly the driver is front was unduly slow.
Slippery road 3 Nothing to do with speed.
Aggressive driving 1.4 Can be ever so slow
Weather - Mist or Sleet 0.8 Possibly, but probably no speed limits was being broken?
Other - local conditions 0.4 Speed? What Speed?
Total 27.7  

Hence, although any speed is a factor in all accidents probably no more than 3% are due to what the public would generally understand as "excessive speed". Meanwhile, prior to the serious start of the camera campaign, death rates were falling by 7% annually compared with 2% now, despite the cameras being supported by tens of thousands of speed humps.

The plain fact is that these cameras have turned driving into a nightmare where we concentrate on our speedometers rather than the road ahead - leading to the unreasonable prosecution of millions and the destruction of tens of thousands of livelihoods while contributing little or nothing to road safety.

A far more human policy would indeed be to make speed limits advisory while hiding the cameras. The cameras could then be used to catch boy racers and the truly dangerous. That could be backed by TV films of crashes and illustrations of good and bad driving - far better to educate us than to than having us drive past insulting signs reading "Enforcement Cameras". After all, all limits are either far too high or far too low depending on traffic conditions.

In any event there can be few people who want to live in a society were every infringement of an inappropriate law is photographed and punished.

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