August 16, 2004 at 9:49 pm #8997XV16Participant
New Speed Camera Rules Are an Extension of Failing and Dangerous Policy
New rules on siting of speed cameras will allow cameras to be sited anywhere on any road where there has been an injury. As ‘serious injuries’ include anything from a broken toe upwards it will soon be hard to find any road in the UK where cameras will not be appearing.
The Head of Road Policing at ACPO, Richard Brunstrom, gleefully admits today in the Times that his forces are already breaking current regulations by hiding cameras behind walls and roadsigns. Clearly, as he is still in his job, the government finds this behaviour by our police forces acceptable despite their previous assurances that all cameras would be visible.
It’s obvious that the police and the government are still blind to the fact that their beloved cameras are failing dismally to reduce deaths, not only away from camera sites but at them too. The ABD have for years searched for some shred of statistically valid evidence that cameras are reducing deaths – so far none has been found. Genuine ‘unspun’ road accident statistics are a closely guarded secret in the UK. Camera partnerships refuse to reveal statistics that we know they hold. Of course, there are ‘studies’ published on speed camera ‘success’ but not one of these has accounted for ‘regression to mean’ (the natural fall back to normal levels after an exceptional number of accidents have occured). They have also universally ignored other road improvements that often take place at camera sites and are often taken over statistically invalid periods of time. Always, the confusing and easily manipulated ‘KSI’ term is used, which lumps deaths in with minor whiplash injuries and broken toes. Excessive speed within the speed limit is lumped with breaking the limit to ‘puff up’ the figures. In reality around 97% of serious accidents occur within speed limits, the 3% above are largely caused by drunk/drugged drivers or unlicenced/stolen.
The ABD have called for a full independent audit of cameras, as have the Conservative party. Any expansion of cameras or relaxation of rules must be halted until this is carried out and the full facts revealed. Whilst it is true that cameras may reduce speeds of legally registered and sober drivers, these are rarely the people who are crashing above the speed limit. It appears likely however, that the distraction caused by cameras is leading to less concentration upon hazard avoidance thus negating any advantage of lower speeds. It is not just ‘speeders’ who are distracted, most drivers if threatened with loss of licence and livelihood will concentrate too much on the speedometer and looking for cameras. This is a plausible explanation why cameras are failing to reduce deaths yet the government appear to have done no studies into the negative effects upon safety.
ABD chairman Brian Gregory said:
“This expansion of cameras will do nothing to help the already fragmented relationship between the police and the public. Worse, it will make our roads even more dangerous with more ‘zombie’ drivers with eyes glued to the speedometer in fear of losing their licence. If Mr Brunstrom’s forces really are hiding behind walls and road signs then expect some serious accidents when drivers or bikers spot the hidden camera at the last minute and lose control.”
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries said:
“The government and Association of Chief Police Officers are clearly totally out of touch with what is actually going on out on the roads. A key driving skill is to set one’s speed to the conditions. This skill is being systematically destroyed by the obsession with numerical values of speed. Accidents occur when drivers fail to observe the road conditions properly, they do not need further distractions from this process. The authorities need to concentrate on improving driving skills and target enforcement at the main problems, those driving recklessly and dangerously — often those who are drunk or drugged, in stolen cars or driving without licence or insurance. These drivers of course sail though speed cameras with impunity.”
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