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 Post subject: North Wales Daily Post
PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2004 12:07 
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Debate over speed cameras won't (go?) away

Apr 5 2004

Daily Post

THE arguments over the usefulness or otherwise of speed cameras refuses to die with the release of a new set of statistics suggesting "speed" on its own is not a primary cause of road accidents.

This is not the first time such "evidence" has been published, but is notable for the fact that the figures come from the Department for Transport - albeit released by the Safe Speed campaign group which clearly has an agenda to promote.

The debate has also been taken up by the Conservative Party whose leader Michael Howard used his arrival in North Wales at the weekend to once more challenge the siting of cameras in this region and elsewhere.

The policy, nationally, appears to be in chaos, with the Government at first standing firm, then promising to review the placement of cameras before concluding on the evidence of police forces - at least one of which has mislaid its data - that they are all correctly placed after all.

Meanwhile the Metropolitan Police seem determined to pull half of theirs down, regardless, and Durham Police insist the cameras pose more of a danger than a deterrent.

What is the poor motorist to think? The Daily Post's line on this - as opposed to the varied views of its columnists - is that we wholeheartedly back any measures which can be proven to reduce death and injury on our roads.

As such we believe the Arrive Alive campaign is of positive benefit because the vans are not static and therefore encourage motorists to drive responsibly at all times.

However there is mounting evidence to suggest that the statistics used in support of speed cameras is selective, and that despite hundreds of cameras now in place across the UK, deaths are not being reduced at the rate one might suppose - and might even be on the increase.

Some suggested reasons for this is that motorists drive at the correct speed past cameras but race between them, that the cameras themselves are a distraction, and, most importantly, that the cameras have encouraged police forces to reduce the number of patrol cars - thereby failing to spot the truly dangerous driver or the unsafe vehicle.

Simply insisting that a policy is correct - in the face of any growing evidence to the contrary - will not help prevent deaths in the long-term.

The issue is complex and the statistics can be used to prove almost anything.

Let the debate go on - but let the aim be clear. And if the current well-meaning policy is found to be counter-productive then let us have the courage to change it.


This was written by Mark Brittain. I've had a great conversation with him and he's made clear to me that the comment about our "agenda" was intended purely to introduce proper balance and to assist readers in not dismissing the findings. Top chap.

Paul Smith
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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