Road Safety News

Safety cameras: a flash in the pan?

Wednesday 6th June 2012

Almost half of Britain’s safety cameras have been switched off permanently, according to an investigation by The Sun.

The paper found that 1,522 (48%) of the country’s 3,189 camera sites were out of action last year, which is up from 37% in 2010 and 32% in 2009.

Many areas have left non-working cameras in place as a deterrent but may never reactivate them, says The Sun.

Avon and Somerset switched off all of its 69 cameras in April 2011, but, according to The Sun, the number of crashes where speed was a factor has since fallen 31%.

In London, 565 out of 754 (75%) of cameras have been turned off, but Bedfordshire, Cheshire, Essex, Greater Manchester and other areas used all their camera sites last year.

Claire Armstrong of the Safe Speed campaign branded cameras “a failed policy” and called for all to be scrapped.

Click here to read The Sun report in full.


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You say you read the Timothy Rowsell case but do not mention the others. In each case, I believe it is fair to say that the crash/death would not have happened if the camera had not been present.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (3) | Disagree (5)

Reg Oliver's comments sum up just what is the real problem with drivers skills, ability and understanding about driving on the road. "Why do I have to concentrate around the highways when driving at an acceptable and safe speed instead of on the highway?"

It would seem that Reg is content to just build his driving plan on what he sees just ahead of him and between the kerb lines. Reg, activity around the highway, as you put it, is as important as what is on the highway because that which is around the highway may very quickly be on the highway, children, pedestrians and much more. If you see it early and anticipate what might happen then you are a long way towards dealing with it when it happens.
Alan Hale

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

I think there should be more cameras not less, but that they should be placed to enforce a law and not just to raise capital. I have read the report about Timothy Rowsell and ask how is that the camera's fault? He was driving recklessly, 28 mph above the limit. What I mean by prudent use is where a limit is implemented say to reduce the speed of traffic for a limited period, there should be a camera at the start and one at the end, like an average speed camera. What I mean by placing to raise capital is one road I was on in Oxfordhire changed from a 50 limit to a 40 limit then back to a 50. There was no change of circumstances, yet there was a Gatso after each change of speed limit. To me it seemed the change to 40 was intended to raise capital and served no road safety purpose.
Jim, Aberdeen

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

Please look into the deaths of Myra Nevett, Timothy Rowsell, Graham Davies, Stephen Weymouth and Kevin Lee. A Google search with their name and SPEED CAMERA should lead you to the accounts of their deaths. See what the coroners had to say. Cameras create hazards, increase risk and serve no proven safety function.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (3) | Disagree (7)

I note that several people dislike my earlier comment. Can any of you describe a collision that would credibly have been prevented by a speed camera or ISA? Or perhaps you dislike the fact that speed cameras have contributed to deaths? (I certainly do).
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (2) | Disagree (7)

Why worry about 'rent collectors'? If you are driving within the speed limit they will not affect you. Can anyone actually PROVE that a speed camera has caused ANY crashes? I suggest it is the drivers who cause the crashes, not something that doesn't move. Not the camera's fault if some numpty speeds and then brakes hard. Even if someone actually crashes into the camera it is still driver error.
Andy, Warwick

Agree (10) | Disagree (3)

Why do I have to concentrate around the highways when driving at an acceptable and safe speed instead of on the highway? I used to drive relaxed but these days I'm always looking out for the "rent collectors". Time they were scrapped and better road policing brought back to what it should be, and not the camera systems that claim you are a danger even though you have harmed no one.
Reg Oliver Derbyshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (10)

The investigation that should have taken place after any collision is "could a speed camera (or ISA) have prevented this (or any other) collision/casualty?". If the answer is "no", there is no rationale for installing one.

It is extraordinary that the answer to this question is always "no". There are no circumstances where a camera could credibly prevent a collision. There are, however, plenty of well-documented cases where speed cameras have caused fatal crashes. They must all be decommissioned immediately, and plans for ISA must be abandoned on the basis that it would waste money that could usefully be spent far more effectively.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (5) | Disagree (18)

And one more point - Andrew Fraser's comment that these "blacksites" should be "subject to detailed study". Sorry, no, that would be utterly pointless.

Accidents being the near-random coincidence of (usually) more than one causal factor, whether an accident happens or not is itself a near random outcome, as is whether it happens within a camera site or somewhere else.

That being the case, the small numbers of accidents at individual camera sites are inevitably highly volatile and as a consequence, although numbers fall at most sites through regession to the mean (aka selection bias), downward trend and drivers diverting to avoid cameras, it is statistically inevitable that at a small proportion of sites, numbers are bound to rise!

There is therefore nothing whatever about these sites that could be sensibly studied, the observed rises being due simply to random chance. One might as well study why a series of throws of a dice gives an unusual run of sixes!
Idris Francis Petersfield

Agree (3) | Disagree (15)

Having campaigned against speed cameras for 12 years I am delighted both that so many cameras have been switched off and that casualties continue to fall.

There is a great deal more information and analysis on my web site on these and related subjects.

As for ISA - my web site also provides the detailed experiences of one ISA volunteer who was very pleased to hand back his free ISA equipped car because he was involved in so many near-misses and road rage incidents as a direct result of the entirely predictable problems this lunatic idea causes.

Amongst the serious discrepancies of this plan are the fact that the benefits expected were based on fatalities still being around 3,000 in 2010 (in fact they had fallen, without ISA, to 1875) and then starting to rise long term due to rising traffic volume! In reality traffic fell about 1% in 2007,8,9 and has since fallen more substantially. As anyone who looks at traffic volume figures - see my web site - since 1950 when they were rising by 10% pa would understand, there is no prospect of further rises for years to come.
Idris Francis Petersfield

Agree (4) | Disagree (12)

Well - let's hope that the blacksites involved will now be subject to the detailed study they should have received in the first place, and that a more intelligent and civilised approach will be taken to designing remedies. In the few cases where speed limiting is required, for example, ISA may be a better solution. But we've a lot of work to do to promote that, given the mistrust built up in the speed camera era.
Andrew Fraser, STIRLING

Agree (4) | Disagree (9)