Which Magazine published an article about speed cameras in the October 2004 issue. We recognise that the author of the article made reasonable attempts at balance and quoted the ABD and Safe Speed extensively. You can read the complete article here.
A series of arguments are presented, both for and against cameras. In our opinion, each and every one of the "for arguments" can be readily and safely dismissed based on our own investigations alone.
This page is our response to the article and should be sufficient to clarify most of the points.
|Main pro camera arguments
|The graph in the Which?
A fair and accurate graph:
A key argument in the Which? article is that deaths are rising on roads where speed cameras are used infrequently. A graph is offered in support of the theory. But the information is all wrong. Note these points:
It is noteworthy that there has been a continuing fall in pedestrian fatalities over the last 10 years. Much or all of this fall appears to be associated with reduced pedestrian activity. Obviously if there are fewer pedestrians about, we should expect fewer to be killed in accidents. We don't believe that accurate figures are available, but the growth of the school run over the last decade is widely recognised, and is a well known example of "reduced pedestrian activity".
These reductions in pedestrian fatalities are mainly concentrated in urban areas. – for example, in 2003 74% of pedestrian fatalities were in built up areas. (1998: 76.2%).
Refer to the table below to see how the
patterns of road deaths are changing:
So is the reduction in pedestrian deaths a triumph for cameras? No, of course it isn't and more importantly, it cannot be. The following logic applies:
PACTS said: "The sharp fall in road deaths up to 1993 are associated with the 1983 law making front seatbelt wearing mandatory, better car design and major reductions in drink driving offences." Equally, PACTS says, increased road use, the sharp rise in motorcycle casualties and the use of mobile phones while driving are among the many reasons that the sharp fall hasn't continued."
Let's take those six claims one at a time:
|Some inaccurate statements...
It appears on our "fatality" page.
|Letter to TRL
We will publish any reply to this page.
Traffic has increased. But so has vehicle safety and post crash medical care. Best estimates put the improvements in vehicle safety as being worth 4% per annum and post crash medical care as being worth about 1% per annum. (both in terms of fatality reduction). The increase in traffic is running at around 1.5% per annum. Given these figures, we should be looking for an annual net improvement of around 3.5% per annum without considering the effect of policy changes or road engineering changes. 3.5% per annum compounds up to 41% over a decade. So without policy or road engineering interventions we believe that roads fatalities should have followed the pattern of earlier decades and dropped by at least 40%. Dropping by just 8% represents a policy failure of epic proportions. As for the benefit of speed cameras – well – if they worked to save lives we should have seen fatalities drop by rather more than 40% over the last decade.
It is vitally important to look at national total figures when considering the overall effect of a road safety policy. If we look at any narrow group we risk failing to notice that casualties have been “moved around” by the policy. Any effective policy should be expected to reduce overall road deaths.
|Links and further reading:
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Created 13/10/2004. Last update 18/10/2004