Roddy Graham's blog: 26 August 2011 - Money-making speed cameras
26 August 2011
Roddy Graham is commercial director of Leasedrive Group and Chairman of the ICFM.
An Aylesbury speed camera has a lot to answer for! Not only has it raked in thousands of pounds for the Treasury but there has been a four-fold increase in the number of road traffic accidents where it's positioned! Indeed, it's just one of many speed cameras which have appeared to be totally ineffectual in reducing accidents. In Humberside, 17 of the 89 speed cameras located in the county saw an increase in accidents while in Cambridgeshire four of the 47 speed cameras failed to deter motorists by seeing a rise in accidents at the sites.
And so the story goes on. Of the 44 sites in the Thames Valley, seven saw an increase in the number of accidents. Ammunition indeed for those against the 6000 odd speed cameras dotted around the country. First introduced in 1992, speed cameras now generate around £100m in fines per year, a definite money earner for the Treasury.
The above statistical information on the effectiveness of speed cameras in preventing road accidents at known black spots is the result of government requesting local councils to publish their data. So far only 75 have complied, with mixed results in terms of the information and analysis revealed. A bit like the speed cameras really.
Brake, the road safety charity, has immediately seized on the point that not all councils have complied and that the information revealed is not comprehensive enough to draw conclusions. Well one site seeing a four-fold increase in road traffic accidents is proof enough to me that the positioning and operation of that specific speed camera is totally ineffectual and should be removed forthwith. Road traffic engineers should study that section of road and determine what measures should be put in place to reduce the number as quickly as possible.
Latest statistics published by the Department for Transport showed fatalities dropped by 10% in the 12 months to the end of March, dropping to 1870. During the same period, various counties in the UK including Buckinghamshire, Derbyshire, Norfolk, Somerset and Wiltshire turned off all or some of their cameras.
That's not to say speed cameras do not contribute to a reduction in road accidents, fatalities and serious injuries. It's just that they should be positioned in the right place for the right reasons. A money earner should never be their primary function.
As I mentioned in a blog in early June, Swindon appears to be a pioneer in speed management. It controversially was the first council to switch off all its speed cameras. They cost too much to run and speed warning signs on various approaches were erected in their place.
Now it is piloting a scheme, the first in the UK, on two roads which have a speed limit of 40mph and have witnessed several accidents in the last five years including a fatality at each. Statistics showed that 67% of drivers exceeded the speed limit along the one road and 38% along the other.
Specialist equipment connected to the traffic signal system, records the speeds of all passing traffic and drivers over a certain speed trigger the lights at the next junction to turn from green to red, slowing them down and rendering it pointless to exceed the local speed limit.
This approach educates and warns drivers about speeding. It's a sensible, pro-active approach to road safety and traffic management.
All the councils in the UK can eventually be cajoled into publishing detailed reports on the effectiveness and revenue generation of their speed cameras. I am sure that the results will be just as mixed as those found among reports from the initial 75 councils.
It's pretty obvious that those speed cameras that are shown to effectively reduce road traffic accidents should remain and those that don't should be removed. Improving our already world-beating record on road safety is reliant on many factors and we need to focus on the most effective measures.
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