London, 11 Dec 2000.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

ABD Exposes Britain's Top Ten Speed Camera Abuses
Misuse of speed cameras set to escalate to new heights as fine money to be kept.
The new Government "Vehicle Crime" bill will allow a massive increase in the number of speed cameras and other speed enforcement activity by giving the police a direct financial incentive to entrap drivers without any safety justification.

New digital speed cameras, which former Met. Police Traffic Supremo and now RAC advisor Kevin Delaney has condemned as "revenue raisers", will make this possible.


When speed cameras were first introduced, the public was promised that they were to be used only in proven speed related accident blackspots, especially to protect pedestrians, and that sensible drivers had nothing to fear from them.

The reality has been very different from the start.

The ABD has chosen ten locations which show how most of these devices have been placed where they can have little positive impact on safety, and may even contribute to lower driving standards.

"The British public has been kept in the dark for years about the abuse of camera technology," says the ABD's Nigel Humphries. "Many of the locations are not justified in any way by safety. They are the product of over zealous officials who have been so blinded by emotive "Speed Kills" propaganda that they have forgotten what makes a safe driver - if they ever knew."

The ABD's "Top Ten" - shows how:

Nigel Humphries continues: "Millions have been spent on cameras and camera enforcement which do so little to improve road safety, but much to make driving unpleasant. Instead, they should be helping drivers to drive safely - not slowly. The money spent on cameras could have made a real difference if it had been invested in training and education for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians."

The ABD's top ten camera abuses covers the whole country, with four locations around London, plus Oxfordshire, Avon, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, the Scottish Borders and Warwickshire all being singled out as providing prime illustrations of how both local authorities and the Highways Agency have ignored or distorted safety arguments in their use of cameras.

ABD Chairman Brian Gregory concludes "It is tragic that 3,500 lives continue to be lost on the UK's roads every year, not because of speed but because of lack of training and education for road users. Now that the DETR is encouraging us all to "Think! Road Safety", is it too much to ask that a little more thought goes into how speed limits are set and where cameras are placed? The revenue raisers charter instigated by the Blair government means there is no chance of this happening."

The ABD calls for an end to Britain's Speed Camera culture and a return to police enforcement properly targeted at dangerous behaviour. We also want to see all road users taking responsibility for themselves, improved driving standards through realistic training and education, and genuine road improvements to benefit all road users rather than to obstruct motorists.



1 Avon - Batheaston Bypass
Situation - Cameras placed on brand new dual carriageway with a 50mph speed limit before it even opened. Road is approached from a 60mph single carriageway.

Absurdity - Trucks can increase speed from 40 to 50 when they reach the dual carriageway, whilst cars must slow from 60 to 50 at the very point when it is most safe to overtake the HGV!

Camera Abuse - How can a brand new road be a proven speed related accident blackspot? Either the Highways Agency are knowingly engineering blackspots into new roads or they are not telling the truth about cameras being deployed in accident blackspots.

2 Derbyshire: A619 between M1 junction 30 and Chesterfield
Situation - Fourteen cameras in ten miles of open A road.

Camera Abuse - Mike Winnett, of the Transport Research Laboratory, who wrote the original guidelines for camera deployment, said on BBC 2's "Traffic" programe "this is not what speed cameras were designed for".

3 Middlesex - A40, in particular the Master Brewer Junction
Situation - This red light camera was the very first in Britain, making the Master Brewer junction one of the worst accident blackspots in the country. This camera, along with numerous speed cameras on the A40, then became part of the "West London Speed Camera Demonstration Project" which was used to justify further camera introductions nationwide.

Absurdity - One speed camera on the A40 is located directly under a pedestrian footbridge across a three lane dual carriageway where the limit has recently been reduced from 70mph to 50mph. How is this protecting pedestrians?

Camera Abuse - How is a red light camera at a dangerous junction an abuse? In its own right, it is not. The abuse comes because the worst accident blackspot in the country simply disappeared from the measurements which "proved" camera effectiveness when a new bypass around it was opened during the test period.

4 A1 Elkesley nr Retford, NottinghamshireClick for larger image
Situation - following several accidents involving vehicles turning across the central reservation, a 50mph limit was introduced. When the accidents continued, a local councillor campaigned for cameras to enforce this wholly inappropriate limit. The accidents have not stopped.

Absurdity - One of the first people to be caught when the cameras went live was the man who had led this campaign. And caught properly, too - at 88mph in a 50 limit.

Camera Abuse - Cameras cannot prevent this type of accident. A main trunk road like the A1 should have proper junctions. Those who campaign for cameras are often hypocrites who should not be taken seriously. Some have been forced into this position by a refusal on the part of government to invest in safe roads in the first place.

5 West London - M4 Bus Lane
Situation - Bus lane introduced in the fast lane of the M4 eastbound. Speed limit reduced to 50mph between Heathrow and the two lane section. Enforced by two speed cameras. Ongoing two lane section after bus lane reduced from 50 to 40 - enforced by a further three cameras.

Camera Abuse - The limit was only lowered because of the bus lane. The Highways Agency must once again either be knowingly creating danger or using speed cameras for purposes other than safety.

6 M25 Variable Speed Limit - Surrey Section
Situation - Variable speed limit enforced by numerous overhead gantry mounted cameras.

Camera Abuse - This is not a safety scheme but an effort to prevent congestion by slowing traffic before it has to stop in order to better use roadspace. This has failed, with journey times through the scheme increasing, and it has not been extended to other motorways as planned. The cameras, of course, are still live. Once again, they are not being used for safety reasons but to enforce a scheme that aimed, unsuccessfully, to cram more traffic onto Britain's inadequate road network.

7 All routes into London
Situation - All main radial routes into London have been aggressively populated with cameras irrespective of the accident record and most roads have had speed limits reduced from 70mph to 50 or 40mph since the cameras have been introduced. Other cities such as Birmingham have followed suit.

Camera Abuse - The reduced speed limits, which are not supported by drivers using the routes, are only enforceable because of camera technology. The purpose is not appropriate road safety targeted to accident blackspots, but mass intimidation to discourage drivers from bringing their cars into the city centre. Every route has cameras as a matter of policy.

A professional London Borough Highways Engineer said to the ABD: "Speed cameras on the majority of radial routes into London were put there by the Traffic Director for London, as part of the implementation of the red routes network. When the pilot red route was introduced about 5 or 6 years ago, it was very successful in alleviating congestion due to illegal parking, to the extent that speeds rose to above the speed limit! To answer the criticism that followed, the Traffic Director installed speed cameras in places where the highest speeds occurred, even though accidents had reduced, probably because the removal of parked vehicles made it less likely that pedestrians could step into the road unseen. It has been the Traffic Director's policy ever since to install speed cameras on all red routes where there is a likelihood that drivers will exceed the speed limit. Perhaps some of the cameras are at accident blackspots but the majority are not."

8 A45 - Coventry - Birmingham Click for larger image
Situation - Numerous cameras enforcing a 60mph dual carriageway limit, mainly located at crossing points which have since been closed. The last crossing point, Packington Crossroads (photo), is now to have a bridge built.

Camera Abuse - The limit and cameras were not an appropriate solution to the problem of junction accidents. They have failed, and the proper solutions have finally been implemented. The cameras and the unnecessary limit remain, however.

9 Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire - A40
Situation - Fourteen cameras plus several Truevelo sites.

Camera Abuse - At least three of the cameras are located in the only spots where safe overtaking is possible, leading to riskier overtaking where there are no cameras. Many of the sites are hidden behind road signs.

10 Scottish Borders - A68 Click for larger image
Situation - Numerous cameras, some located on overtaking straights, but many hidden behind signs and in bushes.

Camera Abuse - These cameras are not in accident blackspots but are there solely to make an enjoyable road unpleasant for drivers. If cameras are supposed to be a deterrent to speeding in dangerous situations, they should not be hidden. If they are hidden, then those who hide them are clearly lying about their intentions.


Notes for Editors