Minister's Statement "Inaccurate and Mischievous"
Road Safety Minister David Jamieson has written in the magazine of the Institute of Advanced Motorists that
"The figures that are often quoted of speed contributing to no more than four per cent to seven per cent of accidents are inaccurate and mischievous."
ABD Road Safety Spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie commented:
"The minister's words are a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. We have some serious doubts about the way the government has used statistics to justify the use of cameras."
Despite a wealth of data to the contrary, the government continues to repeat the claim "one third of accidents are caused by speed".
Their claim is based upon the Transport Research Laboratory's report number 323 in which police officers attending accidents recorded the factors behind the accident.
There was more than one factor in most accidents. Factors were classed as definite, probable or possible. Excessive speed amounted to 7.3% of the total factors recorded, it was a definite factor in only about 4% of accidents, but was a possible factor — although not necessarily the primary factor (cause) — in up to 15%.
Although excessive speed was only 7.3% of the factors, a number of other factors have since been cited as "speed related":-
- Failure to judge other persons path or speed — 10.7%
The situation here is one person failing to judge the path or speed of a second vehicle - which is not to say that the second vehicle is travelling at an inappropriate or illegal speed. It is purely a failure to observe correctly on the part of the first party.
- Following too close — 4.1%
This factor has little to do with the speed of the following vehicle, merely its distance from the one in front. A speed camera will not catch tailgaters.
- Slippery road — 3.0%
Imagine a truck spills diesel onto a 30mph road. You are driving along this road at 30mph and skid on the diesel patch resulting in an accident. This is not a factor of speed.
- Behaviour — in a hurry — 2.7%
Being in a hurry does not mean travelling at excessive speed, it could include not waiting patiently at junctions, roundabouts or pedestrian crossings; not giving way to other traffic. If the vehicle was travelling at excessive speed the accident cause would be classed under 'Excessive Speed'.
- Aggressive driving — 1.4%
Again, this is not speed related, some drivers can be aggressive at 5mph in a supermarket car park.
- Weather (eg mist or sleet) — 0.8%
This means that the accident was caused by the weather not speed, i.e. the vehicle was travelling at a perfectly reasonable speed but encountered some unexpected problem such as flooding on the roadway, or black ice. Again, if the vehicle at been travelling at excessive speed for the conditions it would have been classed under 'Excessive Speed' above.
- Other (Local conditions) — 0.4%
The inclusion of 'other' is an indication of the extent of the government's belief in the simplistic "speed kills". They are so convinced that speed is the be-all and end-all of accident causation that if they can't attribute an accident to anything else, they conclude it must be speed related.
Since more than one factor was recorded in most accidents, attempts by the government to use factors such as 'slippery road' to boost the proportion attributed to speed amount to double counting, since it is quite likely that, where these factors are recorded, excessive speed will have been noted as another factor already. You can't count the same accident twice as being due to speed!
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said
"How the minister can claim that statistical evidence gathered by police officers attending accidents is 'inaccurate and mischievous' is surprising. Perhaps this is why the government are replacing police traffic officers with speed cameras — they cost less to run, make more money, and don't answer back. But they also completely fail to catch the drivers who are a danger on our roads."