ABD Demands an End to Road Crash Secrecy
Full details of all serious accidents MUST be in the public domain
Recent reports suggest that the public will soon be allowed to see selected data about crashes in the vicinity of speed cameras.
Government sources claim that this will "demonstrate" that cameras are there to save lives rather than raise money - in stark contrast to the overall figures which show road deaths getting worse.
The ABD demands that full details of all serious accidents are published so that the true effectiveness of all road safety measures can be independently evaluated.
"Road accident victims deserve better than this secrecy," said ABD safety spokesman Mark Mc-Arthur Christie. "It defies belief that the Government are making it difficult for independent safety experts to properly examine road crash data."
The lack of public information is all the more disturbing given the controversy over speed cameras and the pressure being placed on the DfT by camera supporters to produce more statistics to suit their viewpoint.
"Given the Government's previous record of selective manipulation of statistics to justify cameras, nothing less than full disclosure will do," said the ABD's Nigel Humphries. "Since 1991, the authorities have always produced selective figures to support claims that cameras were placed for safety reasons. Now, there are almost daily admissions that, under previous administrations, this was not the case. Why should the new Camera Partnership regimes be trusted, especially when they have a vested financial interest?"
"Accident details have been kept secret by the authorities for too long," continued Humphries. "This has allowed the authorities to pull numbers out of the hat to justify any action they wish to take. These latest proposals to release data are very much along these lines - manipulation not transparency."
It's not good enough to say that five accidents have happened near a camera site before the camera was installed and only three since.
The ABD knows that many speed cameras have been justified on dodgy data. Camera partnerships and highways authorities have:
- Chosen a "before" period which had an unusually high number of accidents and which doesn't match up with the camera installation date
- Used accidents that occurred a long way from the camera and which have no relation to driver behaviour at the camera site
- Used accidents that cannot happen again due to engineering improvements - central reservation gap closures, traffic lights etc
- Claimed that accidents "might" be caused by speeding when other causes are clearly much more significant.
The ABD wants to see full accident details for ALL serious collisions, irrespective of how close they are to a camera, going back three years and showing:
- Exact location
- Exact date and time
- Weather conditions
- Number and nature of vehicles involve
- Number and severity of casualties
- Direction of travel
- Involvement of drink, drugs or unauthorised drivers
- Reporting officer's assessment of cause
The ABD believes that only this level of information will ensure that cameras are sited for safety reasons.
"When we talk to those involved in rail safety, they cannot believe that vital details of road accidents are so jealously guarded by the authorities," said ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "All of this information must be in the public domain, and the practice of selective information release to post rationalise duff road safety decisions must end."
A strong collateral benefit is that safety groups like the ABD will be able to assess accidents and propose safety measures of their own - leading to more robust safety policy and real reductions in road casualties.
NB The accident criteria for siting speed cameras is that four serious collisions have occurred within one kilometre in three years.