ABD Condemns Jamieson Speed Camera Whitewash
The ABD today reacted with scepticism to Transport Minister David Jamieson's astounding assertion that every single one of Britain's 6000 speed cameras is correctly positioned for safety reasons.
The fact that he reached this conclusion by simply asking the Camera Partnerships reduces the matter to sheer farce. What else did he expect them to say? They are responsible for placing them, so they are hardly going to admit they are in the wrong!
"It's too late to fob the British people off with this kind of whitewash," said Nigel Humphries of the ABD. "Almost everyone now knows that cameras are in the wrong places and that most of the people they catch are driving perfectly safely, whilst dangerous drivers swan around unmolested."
Many people also know that the number of fatalities on Britain's roads has hardly fallen since cameras were introduced, despite huge advances in vehicle crash worthiness and medical care.
The ABD has continually highlighted what is wrong with the way cameras are used.
- Many cameras are not placed in accident blackspots at all. Camera partnerships from Scotland to London have admitted this about cameras not placed by them. Some blatant examples — like the ones placed on the Batheaston bypass near Bath, have even been removed, but many more exist.
- The requirement to justify cameras by four serious accidents in the vicinity is wide open to abuse. In many cases, the accidents chosen:
1. Are a long way from the camera — note 1 below
2. Happened before engineering work was done to prevent them — note 2
3. Are not caused by breaking the speed limit — note 3
- Camera partnerships can quote accident numbers and causes without any obligation for public scrutiny of the details of the accident reports.
- Cameras are sited where the speed limit is wrong and so where safe, attentive drivers are likely to be exceeding it. This means that safe drivers are caught, whilst cynical dangerous drivers slow for the camera then drive fast on residential roads where there are no cameras. By punishing safe drivers and rewarding dangerous ones, road safety is undermined and relations between police and public are strained.
It is outrageous that the supporters of speed cameras continually attempt to sweep these problems under the carpet with dismissive statements like this one from David Jamieson.
The ABD will not go away and lie down. We will continue to expose the fundamental flaws in a camera based road safety policy which are leading to unnecessary deaths on Britain's roads and creating a climate of oppression for those who seek to drive with courtesy and skill.
Note 1 — Distance
In the past, Highways authorities have used accidents along the whole length of a road to justify a camera in a location where there have been none. Now, government guidelines demand four serious accidents within one kilometre. This is still a very long way, especially in urban areas, and there is no reason why an accident at an urban junction would be affected by a camera a kilometre away.
Note 2 — Engineering work
It is common to make improvements to a road, to remove a hazard, and install a camera at the same time. The camera then gets the credit for the improved safety at that site. Cameras are often installed on stretches of road where several bad accidents have happened at junctions or dual carriageway crossing points. In many cases, the crossing points are closed or traffic lights are introduced, effectively preventing any recurrence of the accident.
Note 3 — False Diagnosis
The Government likes to claim that a high proportion of accidents are caused by speeding. In fact, independent reviews such as the West Midlands Road Accident Review shows that excessive speed is the cause of 1.1% of pedestrian accidents and 4% of non-pedestrian accidents. Durham's Chief Constable Paul Garvin recently went on record to point out that the vast majority of serious accidents above the speed limit are as a result of drink or drugs.