Road Safety News

Dramatic fall in casualties at Scotland's camera sites

Thursday 28th July 2011

A new report shows that the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) has fallen dramatically at sites in Scotland where safety cameras have been deployed.

The report, ‘Key Scottish Safety Camera Programme Statistics, 2010’, shows a 63% reduction in KSIs in the period 2008–10, compared with the three year period prior to camera enforcement.

The report, published by Scotland’s chief statistician on 27 July, reveals that during the pre-enforcement baseline period there was an average of 341 KSIs per year across the camera sites, but this fell to 127 per year for 2008-2010. The figures relate to 164 fixed, 205 mobile and 41 red-light cameras located across Scotland.

Additionally, the total number of personal injury collisions at safety camera sites fell by 47%, from an annual average of 1,105 to 586.

Kathleen Braidwood, road safety officer at RoSPA Scotland, said: “With an average of 10 fewer accidents involving injuries every week at safety camera sites, it is clear that cameras are helping to reduce the misery caused by crashes.

“The use of cameras is part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent speed-related accidents across Scotland, involving many partners and a variety of approaches.

“All road users have a responsibility for helping to make Scotland’s roads safer, and one of the things motorists can do is ensure they always drive according to the conditions and within the speed limit.”

Click here to view the report, or for more information contact Jo Bullock or Vicky Fraser 0121 248 2134/2045.


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My view is such that I am considering an official complaint, but to whom?
The report in question is alleged to have been published by Scotland's "Chief Statistician"!
It makes one ashamed to be Scottish ...
Andrew Fraser, Stirling

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No Mike, please look at the graphs taken from the official DfT figures:

The most important road safety indicator (Fatalities per billion Kms) have been reducing remarkably consistently since the start of the 1960s. They have improved both before and after speed cameras but it's the rate of improvement that's important.

The improvement before cameras (over 6%) was more than double that after cameras (under 3%).

It is not difficult to draw these graphs, and it's not opinion, road safety WAS seriously damaged when speed cameras were introduced but the question is, was it the speed cameras that caused that damage? To this day no better explanation has been put forward.

It is also clear that the best improvements were when the economy was at it's worst.

The 1st step in solving a problem, is recognizing the problem exists!
Dave Finney - Slough

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So, let me get this straight - when casualties went down in the early 90s it was because of economic downturn. But when they went up again this was due to the effect of cameras, not the improving economy?

Dave - you're having your cake and eating it.
Mike, Bristol

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Dave is trying hard but he may have to ultimately accept that practitioners are sceptical of RTM - and get angry. After 16 years as an RSO, I have a doctorate in frustration.
Roy Buchanan, Epsom

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The people that write the above reports must know that RTM can be greater that all other effects combined at camera sites, so why do they not account for this? In my job as an electronics engineer I could very well be sacked for such incompetence so why do we let them get away with this deception?

RTM is a very simple phenomenon, but it is difficult to understand in practice.

If speed cameras are placed at sites that have had "unusually high" serious collisions (KSI), then numbers of KSI will reduce back to "normal" in the next years. This would happen even if nothing were done therefore the speed cameras are irrelevant.

In order to demonstrate if speed cameras do have any effect (positive or negative), RTM must be eliminated. This is best done using a scientific test called a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT), but this has never been done. In the absence of any scientific tests, measurement of RTM is required but this has not been done either.

The best we have are estimates of RTM and the largest report on speed cameras in Britain, the 4 year evaluation (4YE), estimates that RTM is the single largest reason why KSI reduce at speed camera sites:

The 4YE shows that speed cameras have not been demonstrated to produce ANY reduction in KSI at all.

After RTM, the 4YE goes on to estimate that "trend" is the next largest reason but trend has increased dramatically recently due to the recession. Every economic downturn has seen road safety improve faster eg: before recently, the largest fall in deaths on our roads was the start of the 1990s, a period of economic bad times just prior to the start of speed cameras.

Clearly the largest economic downturn (ie since 2007) should produce the greatest road safety improvements, and that's exactly what is happening. Every cloud etc.

But, back in the mid 1990s when speed cameras were introduced, road safety collapsed. It was still improving, but at the lowest rate since the 1950s. Speed cameras must be the major factor in this disaster as no-one has put forward any other reasonable explanation.

It is great news to see such dramatic reductions in deaths on our roads over the last few years, but if we allow ourselves to be fooled as to why this has occurred, we will pursue the wrong policies and this may lead to more deaths than would otherwise happen.
Dave Finney - Slough

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In any analysis we must ensure that only one factor at a time is changed whilst all other factor remain constant. It can then be taken that that one factor change could have resulted in the consequent difference. If however, any of the other factors have changed during the same period then they must be considered as being possibly influencing factors in any difference in the results. If the installation of a camera was the only factor change, then the results may be attributed to that change. However, if there were any changes or variations in any of the other factors then the results attributed to cameras is unsound.

Is this what Dave Finney is saying?
Roy Buchanan, Epsom

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This is a really good news story. It is such a shame that people with limited understanding of 'regression to the mean' seem to think that all you have to do is ignore the problem and it will revert to mediocrity. Thank goodness that people who work in road safety have more foresight and knowledge than this!
Sheila Harrison

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Is this report spin (ie deliberate deception), or is it just incompetence?

Had cameras NOT been used then these locations with high collisions would be expected to see fewer over the next years. This is called RTM but is not even mentioned, let alone controlled for.

Add to that the recession causing huge reductions in collisions and the nett result is no difference at these camera sites compared to what any competent engineer might expect without cameras.

If any other field of engineering were to demonstrate such a lack of understanding of basic safety, we would all be VERY angry, and possibly call for people to be sacked or even prosecuted.

Why do we let people working in road safety get away with this?
Dave Finney - Slough

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