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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 00:13 
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http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/mai ... peed23.xml

'Scrap speed cameras now'

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 23/06/2007

They might be good for the organisers of track days but speed cameras are killing ordinary road users, says Paul Smith, of the Safe Speed Campaign

British road safety is in trouble. The number of road deaths isn't falling as expected and recent figures from Europe put our rate of road safety improvement behind 20 other European nations. We used to have the safest roads in the world but we have been overtaken.

Although it appears that Department for Transport (DfT) targets are being met, it's only the trend in serious injuries that provides this positive result. Unfortunately for the DfT, and for the rest of us, the numbers being hospitalised following road crashes haven't fallen for a decade. The only reasonable conclusion is that serious injuries are not falling either, but DfT statistics suffer an increasing degree of under-reporting.

When asked to investigate why road deaths were not falling as expected, the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) deduced that "some drivers must be getting worse".

I have spent the last six years looking at road safety as a system and I'm pretty sure I know what's going wrong. Modern traffic policies are making drivers worse. This has been allowed to happen because the DfT has no working definition of what it means to be a good driver or even a proper understanding of what drivers really do. Yet driver behaviour, specifically the quality of driver behaviour, is the hidden fundamental on which all road safety depends. Unfortunately, the DfT has been taking driver quality for granted or possibly ignoring it altogether, an issue that Sir John Whitmore addressed in his most recent Telegraph Motoring column (June 2).

The process of driving is one of real-time risk management. Drivers who manage risk well stay out of trouble. They recognise risky situations and wait, hang back or steer clear.

Of course the potential risks involved in driving are enormous. Shutting your eyes for 20 seconds would probably cause a crash, possibly ending or ruining several lives. And while driving blind would certainly be daft, this actually tells us something important. It's not so much what we see that matters, but what we do with what we see. We use it to manage risk.

Sadly, most people haven't been taught to drive as risk managers. We are taught manual skills (steering, clutch control, gear changing) and rules (go this way or that, stop here, don't stop here, don't speed, don't drink and drive).

The necessary risk management skills are acquired gradually with experience (at least as far as that experience goes in everyday driving) and they are easy to overlook because they are mostly subconscious. We learn where to look, how to recognise danger and how to respond to danger when we see it, making all sorts of subtle, semi-automatic judgements.

In particular, we learn to adjust our speed in order to remain safe in the prevailing road, weather and traffic conditions. The speed at which you choose to drive is an output from your own internal risk management system. Yet the DfT regards speed as an "input".

Road safety policy should have one overarching purpose - to make our roads safer. And the critical measure of success is the way road deaths are changing. If the number of road deaths isn't falling as expected in Britain, but it is falling as expected in other countries with similar economic conditions, then we know that something is wrong with our policies.

And there is something wrong with our policies. Not only do they neglect driver quality, but they are actively making us worse. We are prioritising and concentrating on the wrong things. At the heart of our policies are speed cameras, which have largely replaced comprehensive traffic policing. The dream is that cameras reduce risk, but the reality is that they are reducing the quality of our risk management.

Cameras give us legal compliance targets, not safety targets. And the divergence between the two is now very marked. We now have a nation of drivers concentrating on compliance rather than safety. The whole concept of speed cameras denies that we are capable of managing risk, yet road safety absolutely depends on individual risk management in real time. So the DfT has not only failed to understand what driver quality is but has given us policies that undermine it. Worse, it has fed us a false dogma to justify its policies. That false dogma has infected our road safety industry, with millions now believing that the only way to safer roads is slower traffic.

Yet our roads are not becoming safer. After falling for decades in spite of vastly increasing traffic, the number of fatal crashes has remained fairly static since the DfT replaced traffic police with speed cameras. If it had announced that all those traffic officers would be issued with blinkers and stopwatches and would sit on a chair at the side of the road looking neither left nor right, we would have thought it madness.

The only possible route forward is for the DfT to admit its fatal mistake and pull the plug on the failed speed camera programme. This would certainly be a dramatic step, but it is an essential one, as a mere change of emphasis would leave the false dogma intact.

We really need a fundamental change of attitude. We need to lead the world again and show the way.

Speed cameras and the official propaganda that justifies them are the cause of our current problems, not the solution. They have to go and they have to go now.

That's why the Safe Speed campaign is launching "Scrap Speed Cameras Week" tomorrow (see www.safespeed.org.uk/sscw.html), and why more than 25,000 people have already called on Downing Street to scrap speed cameras. To add your name to the online petition, which closes at midnight on Tuesday, June 26, go to http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/scrapcam.

Paul Smith is founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign.
For more information, go to http://www.safespeed.org.uk

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The Safe Speed campaign demands a return to intelligent road safety


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 00:18 
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:bounce1: :clap: :angel:

What a stunning piece. Best yet I think - and what timing.

I particularly like
Quote:
If it had announced that all those traffic officers would be issued with blinkers and stopwatches and would sit on a chair at the side of the road looking neither left nor right, we would have thought it madness.

This should make a number of people "wake up" not already on board.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 00:33 
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Deep, deep joy :D


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 16:22 
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It would be a very good thing if members of the public telephoned newspapers, TV and Radio news, current affairs programme makers and so on, pointed out the Telegraph article and asking them what they are doing for Scrap Speed Cameras Week.

There is a 'buzz', but it's nowhere near loud enough yet.

We need everyone talking about Scrap Speed Cameras Week. What can you do to 'talk it up'?

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Our scrap speed cameras petition got over 28,000 sigs
The Safe Speed campaign demands a return to intelligent road safety


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 19:48 
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Phew, wot a scorcher !

This is a very well written article, the content is excellent and the style is clear. Congratulations.

Following on from Roger's highlighting of his "favourite bit", here is *MY* favourite bit:


The dream is that cameras reduce risk, but the reality is that they are reducing the quality of our risk management.

Cameras give us legal compliance targets, not safety targets. And the divergence between the two is now very marked. We now have a nation of drivers concentrating on compliance rather than safety. The whole concept of speed cameras denies that we are capable of managing risk, yet road safety absolutely depends on individual risk management in real time. So the DfT has not only failed to understand what driver quality is but has given us policies that undermine it.

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p.s. I am still absolutely floored by Paul's death. May 2008 be the greatest ever for SafeSpeed. His spirit lives on.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2007 21:41 
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Paul, if it's possible to define the concept of a "circle of trust" within the media, then you've just stepped firmly within it. Finally, safespeed comes in from the cold!

My favourite bit?

SafeSpeed wrote:
The speed at which you choose to drive is an output from your own internal risk management system. Yet the DfT regards speed as an "input".


For me, that is the whole thing, the whole equation of speed v road safety summed broken down to its lowest terms and summed up in one sentence, with a simple mathematical purity that is almost a Euclidian proof. Sheer genius, and why didn't I see it that way before?

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 15:03 
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A lot of very positive comments are now up on the Telegraph site. The few negative ones are almost all obviously (and predictably) created by Spindrift. The public is clearly on the side of SS; it would be nice if they could just donate a pound each....


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