|London, 2 April 1999.
For immediate release.
"Speed cameras have their limitations...but when these matters can be overcome they will be a sure winner for raising revenue".
The Metropolitan Police magazine, Metline, March 1999 Edition
"Coming soon after the Treasury's decision to allow forces to retain a proportion of camera fines, this must call into question the reason for cameras on our roads," comments the ABD's Roads and Traffic Spokesman, Mark McArthur-Christie. "Drivers have been told continually that speed cameras are there to save lives - not to act as roadside cashpoints for the Police".
A fundamental principle has always been that those who enforce a law should not directly profit from it, yet this shows that The Metropolitan Police are looking to speed cameras as a new form of funding. Not only would such a plan run contrary to natural justice, it would be unlikely to improve road safety.
Given that road safety has stopped improving since speed cameras have become widespread, it would be entirely reasonable to suggest that most cameras have never been positioned for safety reasons. A drive down many of Britain's urban dual carriageways quickly confirms this view.
"On many roads, realistic speed limits are being replaced by inappropriately low limits - often ignoring government guidelines," states McArthur-Christie. "The temptation for the Police will be to enforce the new limits with new cameras, placed where they will generate maximum revenue and offer no safety benefit".
Despite glibly quoted but unsubstantiated government statistics, real evidence concerning the role of speed in accidents tells a different story. Studies in both the UK and USA indicate that speed is far less significant than some would have us believe, accounting for under 10% of accident causation factors. Even then, the problem, more often than not, was drivers going too fast for the conditions but still within the limit - something which can only be made worse by thoughtless blanket speed limit enforcement.
To focus road safety campaigns solely on penalising speed (often speed that is perfectly safe for the prevailing road conditions) is to ignore 90% of the issues underlying safe and effective driving, and conspires to undermine driving standards where it really matters.
McArthur-Christie states "The ABD believes that more cameras - however funded - will do little to improve accident rates. Instead of concentrating on hard line speed enforcement, cash should be spent on improving drivers' skills and raising their awareness of hazards. This will tackle the real causes of almost all accidents".