If some media reports are to be believed,'”every speed camera in the country looks set to disappear”. This speculation follows the decision by Government that it will end central funding for speed or safety cameras. Oxford County Council announced this week that it is planning to cut its funding to the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership by £600,000 which will lead to the 72 fixed speed cameras in Oxfordshire being switched off. This has prompted predictions that other councils will follow suit, which, if you took an extreme view, could apparently lead to all safety cameras in the country being switched off.

Now I don’t believe for one minute that it is the end of the road for safety cameras. Reduced funds shouldn’t result in the removal of all cameras and it is an opportunity for councils to conduct a thorough review into which ones play an effective role in reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads, those outside schools and in accident blackspots for example.

Swindon is being cited as an example of where this has worked well. It cut its speed cameras last year and is reported not to have noticed any change in the number of accidents. However, what shouldn’t be forgotten is that Swindon used the money for other road safety measures and this may well have helped to keep accident levels down.

We have made significant progress in this country in terms of reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. At the end of June, the Department for Transport announced there had been a 12% drop in road deaths, with the number of people killed on Britain’s roads falling from 2538 in 2008 to 2222 in 2009. There are many contributing factors to this reduction, not least improved safety technology from manufacturers, but road safety organisations also have figures which show that cameras have played a significant role in this. For example, Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership states that at the 212 fixed camera sites across the wider Thames Valley region – which also includes Buckinghamshire and Berkshire – there was a 38% drop in vehicle collisions. Road safety charity Brake points to a 2004 report by University College of London which, studying 4000 speed cameras over a three-year period, found a 42% reduction in deaths and serious injuries at their locations.

Cameras or no cameras, speeding is dangerous. Any reduction to road safety funding needs to be taken very seriously because we need to keep the momentum going and continue to reduce death and injury on our roads.

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