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Over 28,000 signed our official Scrap Speed Cameras petition on the 10 Downing Street Web site

Read our Telegraph article to find out why.

Are you being prosecuted for a motoring offence?

A very significant number of prosecutions are defective. The trick is to find the defect. A good firm of specialist lawyers may well be able to help.

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14th March 2007


Dear Road User,

It's time to get angry. Department for Transport (DfT) is following a road safety policy that they no longer believe in because they would rather save face than save lives.

I'm quite sure that they used to believe that 'speed cameras saved lives', but in the last few years that's changed.

In May 2005 they decided that speed camera side effects needed to be researched.

In December 2005 they discovered that neglect of a statistical bias had exaggerated the main benefit of speed cameras by 400%. The claimed '100 lives per year saved at speed camera sites' is downgraded to 25 lives saved.

In June 2006 they discovered that the ongoing beneficial trend in road crash serious injuries was just a feature of the way these crashes are reported. Hospitalisation statistics don't show the same trend. Road deaths don't show the same trend.

In September 2006 they discovered that the proportion of injury crashes involving any speeding vehicle nationally was only 5% - not the 'one third' that they had previously claimed.

In 2007 it gets nasty.

In January the new funding for speed cameras was announced as grants given to local authorities. They quite deliberately chose not to ring fence the funding in the full knowledge that this will lead to a budgetary squeeze that will help speed cameras to fade away. There's also a transfer of responsibility for cameras away from DfT and towards local authorities - that's because DfT don't want the flak

In March we learned via Freedom of Information request that the speed camera side effects research (announced in May 2005) had been axed. It is inconceivable that the side effects DON'T cost more than 25 lives per year, meaning that speed cameras are making road safety worse. But DfT doesn't want to hear this, which is the only possible reason for axing the most important research.

So here's the truth. Speed camera policy has failed catastrophically. Department for Transport KNOWS that it has failed but won't admit their deadly mistake and pull the plug. They seem to be hoping that speed cameras will fade away over the next five years, yet they know that the policy isn't working and is costing lives. If that's not a reason for road users to get angry, I don't know what is.

What can you do?

- You can help us by joining the campaign or by donating. I can't stress enough how important this is. We're on a shoe string budget and desperately need better funding, but we're right at the forefront of putting this mess right. We're fighting against massive resources and need all the help we can possibly get.

- You can sign our 10 Downing street petition to 'scrap speed cameras'. At the very least this will help us to highlight the need for far better information, and ultimately for road safety policies that work.

- You can write letters to newspapers or to your MP.

- You can find out more by exploring this website or by joining the forums.

Whatever you do, don't do nothing, don't leave it to someone else and don't put up with it. It's time to get angry.

Yours faithfully
 
 
 

Paul Smith
Safe Speed campaign founder

VITAL Speed camera side effects research axed by Government:
Download our 'side effects' report
Read our press release
"We can only imagine that they would rather save face than save lives"

The Editor of The Observer wrote (17th July 2005):

"Last week, the government announced a three-month moratorium on further speed cameras. This was partly in response to the work of engineer Paul Smith [Safe Speed's founder], who has spent 5,000 hours finding out why, though the number of cameras has risen exponentially, there has been no corresponding reduction in traffic fatalities. He concludes that, far from acting as a deterrent, speed cameras take responsibility for safe speed away from drivers, and their concentration from the road. Cameras are as likely to cause an accident as to prevent one." (link)
 

The retiring editor (Peter Tomalin) of Evo Magazine wrote (July 2005 cover date):

"While I still have this little soapbox, I would like to urge all of you to throw your weight behind two organisations: The Association of British Drivers (www.abd.org.uk) and Safe Speed. They talk an awful lot of common sense, and heaven knows we need a voice right now."
 

North Wales Daily Post (September 2006):

Supporters of speed cameras will say that even 5% justifies their existence. But critics, including the Safe Speed Campaign and this newspaper, who believed the government's simplistic single-solution approach to road safety was actually counter-productive, have also been insisting for years that cameras could themselves be a contributory cause of accidents by distracting drivers. This view also now seems to have been largely vindicated by the DoT's findings. 

Everyone concerned - not least this newspaper - wants to see road deaths reduced as far as is humanly possible, but the argument has always been how best to achieve this. By insisting that "speed" is the main culprit which can safely be left to cameras to enforce, many police forces until now have taken resources away from patrolling roads looking for bad, incompetent and dangerous driving. Other more effective and cheaper (but non-revenue raising) calming methods have also been dismissed. No, we were told, speed kills regardless of road or weather conditions or the competence of the driver. (link)

Road Safety

Road safety is complex, subtle and sensitive like a precision built clock.

After over 100 years of living with motor transport we have learned much about how to manage enormous potential danger on our roads. We have learned as individuals, we have learned as engineers and we have learned as a society. Road safety is finely tuned and balanced and for the most part works very well indeed.

Road safety is primarily a matter of psychology.

Speed Camera

A speed camera is a blunt and heavy instrument, like a hammer.

It has far reaching effects. It changes driver behaviour. It changes everyone's safety priorities. It changes the way the roads are policed. It has done immeasurable damage to the police / public relationship. Far from being a precision tool, it's the equivalent of a rather heavy and badly aimed hammer.

Speed cameras are obviously bad psychology.

Would you use a hammer to fix a clock?

Would you use a speed camera to improve road safety?

Neither would we. They are both the wrong tool for the job.

But with the hammer it's easy to see the damage.

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Professor Mervyn Stone, hired by Radio Four to examine the Safe Speed case wrote (June 2004):

Turning now to the written statement of Mr Smith, the reader should know that I have downloaded most of the files, acquired most of the papers to which he referred, and gone through them with as much care and attention as I could summon. In itself, an achievement of sorts - but paling into insignificance compared with that of Mr Smith himself. He has single-handedly taken on the road safety establishment. He has brought to the fore hitherto neglected questions with admirable forensic skill and logic. He is a gad fly par excellence whose bite must have already irritated many in the road safety world who prefer a quieter way of dealing with issues. His piece is a powerful polemic attacking the interpretation that others have placed on the body of evidence about the relationship between speed cameras and accidents. (link)
 

new: Sunday Telegraph: Christopher Booker's Notebook (October 2006): 

Slowly the facts about speed emerge 

'We're here to save lives." No one can use Bath station without seeing this slogan blazoned everywhere over the floors, advertising something called the Avon & Somerset Safety Camera Partnership. A year ago I reported here on attending one of its "Speed Camera Workshops". The message dinned into us for three hours was that "speed" is responsible for a third of all traffic accidents; that the definition of "speeding" is breaking a speed limit; and that, therefore, by stopping drivers speeding, speed cameras were saving large numbers of lives. 

Fortunately, thanks to a detailed brief from Paul Smith, the road safety expert who runs www.safespeed.org.uk, I was able to show how every single statistic used to support this case was wrong. And now the Department for Transport (DfT) has finally published new figures that support Mr Smith, and show that the number of accidents involving motorists breaking a speed limit is only 5 per cent. 

Mr Smith's general point is that, for 30 years, Britain enjoyed the safest roads in Europe, with road accident figures in continuous decline. Only in 1994 did that rate of decline markedly diminish, when the government put speed cameras at the centre of its road safety policy. This, he argues, was a disastrous misjudgment, only justified by massaging the statistics, which the DfT has at last done something to rectify. (link)

A VERY IMPORTANT BOOK Launched September 2006

Safe Speed highly recommends MIND DRIVING by Stephen Haley:

Comment

Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign said: "I have been saying that Department for Transport is 'institutionally unable to understand the process of safe driving'. The single best thing we could do for road safety right now is to stop all work at DfT for just one day and require everyone there to read MIND DRIVING. At the end of the day there will be light."

"Every driver MUST read this book."

Synopsis

Driving is the most dangerous thing that most people do. This book explains how drivers can dramatically reduce the risk. Expert drivers use a lot more than conventional driving skills. The key is not just in what they do but, crucially, how they think. This has always been the most vital part of safe driving, but no one has found a way to explain the mental processes involved. "Mind Driving" explains how expert drivers think. Revealed for the first time are: what really causes danger on the road, how to control the danger, how to make life-saving decisions, and how to enjoy driving and do it safely at the same time.

Order from Amazon : Our Web Page : Our press release

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Safe Speed does not campaign against speed limits, but instead calls for proportionate and intelligent enforcement of all motoring laws. Speed cameras have proved to be far from intelligent and far from proportionate.
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You can't measure safe driving in miles per hour.

charlatan: In usage, a subtle difference is drawn between the charlatan and other kinds of confidence people. The charlatan is usually a salesperson. He does not try to create a personal relationship with his marks, or set up an elaborate hoax using roleplaying. Rather, the person called a charlatan is being accused of resorting to quackery, pseudoscience, or some knowingly employed bogus means of impressing people in order to swindle his victims by selling them worthless nostrums and similar goods or services that will not deliver on the promises made for them. The word calls forth the image of an old-time medicine show operator, who has long left town by the time the people who bought his snake oil tonic realize that it does not perform as advertised. (from wikipedia)