back to article Police poison speed debate with fuzzy figures

This may be the week when the Department for Transport learns about the risks of making a case for road safety based on figures that every expert in the field knows to be untrue. Swindon Council got a good old-fashioned clip around the ear on Thursday from David Ainsworth, Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire, who declared …

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  1. michael

    as I said in the last story

    the problem is not realy weather they work or not it is that now they are SEEN to be just a revinew raising tool there hole purose has become discreditied. one of the best solutions would to be to disisoate the law inforcemnt/safty feature for the mony maby by donating all fines to charity or giving all fines to a diffrent department (schools hospitiles) or to change the punishment to a non monatry one

  2. dervheid
    Stop

    Typical reaction from Plod.

    "Ve vill carry on regardless!"

    Which, inevitably, will mean even less money being spent on *real* policing (catching burglars, muggers etc).

  3. Ash

    Do you know what DOES reduce accidents?

    Flowers.

    Tie a few bunches of flowers to a lamp post and I guarantee a LOT more people will slow down in the next few miles at least.

    Nothing like the macabre to bring about realisations.

  4. Simon
    Flame

    Burn the speed cameras!

    They sound such a good idea, great way to keep the roads safe. But the fact that never ending debates about the usefulness of speed cameras exist show that they are a flawed system.

    If people agreed with the use of speed cameras the government and police would never have to produce truckloads of statistics to convince us they work, we would simply fall in love with speed cameras and call for one on every street corner.

    The big failure (Which always gets debated and will on the comments here) Is people saying if you stick to the speed limit you will never have to worry about getting caught, well you are dealing with human beings here who have been taught through survival of the species that bending the rules (EG speeding) is a matter of fact, we cant help ourselves, we are not robots. If we see an empty road we will put our foots down.

    Speed cameras are too easy to defeat for us humans, now the best way to pit a human is maybe against another human as both sides then understand the rules in the fuzzy way us humans interpret them.

    So the simple solution would be to get rid of all those cameras and put the Police back on the roads again.

    The Police, hey now theres a radical idea, you know these people can even detect if someone is drunk, on a phone, not looking where they were going, road-raging, tailgating, ooh think of all those things a speed camera cant tell you off for. Then everyone would behave themselves better with a Police car following behind.

    I certainly have more respect for the police than I do for a road side cash machine. The route I use for work (On my motorbike) has a nice speed camera on it which I find so much fun to slow right down to single digits as I pass through, then as I exit it I open my throttle and listen to the clatter of my big single cylinder, wow, I would never consider doing *that* in front of a Police car...

    Speed cameras? Burn them all!

  5. Fred
    Go

    Lying with statistics

    Assuming we take the police at their word that excessive speed was a factor in 12% of all accidents. Does this just mean that 12% of accidents involved people speeding or that the speed was actually the cause? Driving around, it seems that nearly everybody is breaking the speed limit, judging by the way the red lights come on as we approach a camera. I'll be really conservative and estimate that 50% of all drivers break the speed limit.

    Now, if 12% of accidents involve somebody speeding, and 50% of drivers speed, this acually indicates that fast drivers are less likely to be involved in an accident.

    And that is why I was doing 180mph through a residential area, the defence rests its case your honour ;D

  6. Pete Silver badge

    much money with little to show for it?

    > £320,000 it pays annually towards just three fixed cameras

    putting aside the political shenanigans that all the commentators seem to be fixated on, doesn't this seem like a lot of monkey to spend on three roadside devices: whatever they might be?

    Maybe the cops are really just annoyed that this cash it might actually go back to the people of Swindon, rather than being "rightfully" spent on the current weasel-words of fighting crime and terrorism.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cabbages

    All Swindon has done is to refuse to pay the £320,000 annually for the maintenance of the cameras. They have no authority to remove the cameras (of which they only have 3 anyway). They will either be removed due to lack of funding and moved elsewhere within Wiltshire, or the shortfall in funding will be picked up by the police and the Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership and they will stay where they are!!

    The funds released by this decision will be fed into other road safety measures such as sleeping policemen (no comment on Wiltshire's finest!) or additonal signage.

    Personally, I feel that growing cabbages by the side of the road would considerably reduce the speed of the Cosworth driving chavs in Swindon, as they will slow down to watch the ladies bending over in their short skirts (Swindon uniform) to pick the said vegetables.

  8. Pete James

    Lies, damned lies and.......

    So the figures aren't consistent, correct, empirical or open to discussion? Why would that surprise anyone anymore?

    I don't think I'm alone in saying that if I was nicked by a copper with a speed gun then I would at least feel justice is being served in the right way - by a person representing the law and policing road safety in a designated area, to whom I can at least discuss the issue if required - and I have always respected that. But unmanned, static cameras that merely make a rigid, blind and uncaring view, placed in positions of questionable benefit, give me a feeling of being treated less as a citizen and more as an already guilty party who's turn to be 'processed' will come one day.

    The stupid thing is, if all the static cameras were placed outside schools with a mandatory 20MPH limit imposed outside, no-one could reasonably argue against that.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Rusty Shackleford says'

    For goodness sake if you drive around there be careful.

    If there are no incidents when the greed scamera's are removed it will send the right message to our political overlords.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reggression to the mean

    "a statistical quantification of the common-sense view that where a speed camera has been set up due to above-average casualties in a previous time period, some of that "before-the-camera" increase was little more than random fluctuation"

    Not strictly true. What it actually means is that if you have a statistically abnormal event, such as a higher number of accidents in a given period, then the number of accidents in the next period will necessarily be lower as a direct result of the previous period having a higher number.

    So, it's not so much that the increase was due to a random fluctuation, it could have been any down to any number of factors such a new shop opening next door, a broken street light or whatever, it's that the decrease has nothing to do with the event of installing the speed camera and everything with the fact that the previous period, by definition, was a high point in the total history of accidents at that spot.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    education

    since we seem to teach children nothing these days except how to vote on x factor and to be scared of the internet (which every child MUST have).... wouldn't it be better to only teach people about statistics since they seem to be the basis of most policy / spin and decision making.

    However, as you article and most people who a basic grasp of maths knows, statistics can be used to show just about anything... for instance if you do the mean in the right way, the average number of legs i have is just one!

  12. Master Baker
    Thumb Down

    Fecking Winkers

    I sent an email to the governments road saftey department asking them for an explanation as to why they associate road safety exclusively with drivers (male and female). Bad lighting and bad road conditions (potholes, dips, shit tarmac'ing) must play a huge role in accidents - yet this 'safety' department does nothing to lobby the government on safety factors which are *outside* of the drivers control. We pay our road tax so why don't we get good roads?? Maybe it's because only 33% of road tax is actually spent on, well, roads? I've asked them to justify this too. They've not responded to either point.

    Speed cameras are a crock of shit. Half of them don't contain film (though that is changing with networked cameras that stream footage to a server). The government just wants more revenue. At a time when Mr. Brown (eye) wants to increase the national debt, and indeed when Labour is up to their guts in debt themselves.... they invent statistics to justify their greedy schemes. Winkers. The lot of them.

    If they really cared about speeding from a people-impact perspective then they'd give away free GPS boxes to drivers which beep-beep-beep in a really annoying way when you exceed the speed limits in a given area. Mine does this already, though I did have to pay £300 for it. They don't care about the people-impact. They care about the ££. they need to make ££ to feed their fat-army of civil servants and of course to keep John Lewis in business.

    I wonder if Mr Brown and his wife have the same property aspirations as the Blairs....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed doesn't kill, the driver does!

    Speed doesn't kill, the person who's behind the steering wheel kills.

    Its quite simple, bring motoring back to an elitist transportation option and accidents/deaths will drop to nothing.

    How might this be achieved? Simple, get caught breaking any motoring law and loose your license, never to be returned. Bring in compulsory retesting every year, just like an MOT for a car. Ban driving as a profession and don't allow it as any part of a job, which will instantly stop "white van man". "How would buses be driven and goods be transported?" I hear you cry, very simple, have government trained officials to drive these vehicles, if they break any laws etc they loose their job never to return to a similar profession again.

    Immediate changes can be brought in swiftly by banning foreign drivers and foreign vehicles. Limiting the number of vehicles over 3.5 tonnes by 65%.

    In this day and age we should be working from home, shopping locally (within 3 miles of our home) and using public transport such as buses and trains.

    How hard is it to get a commercial airline pilots license? Very hard is the answer. Yet flying one (badly or expertly) is very easy, to the point of being easier than driving a car. So why isn't it harder to get a bike, car, van, lorry or towing license?

    Over 60% of existing drivers should not be allowed to drive, simple as that, and the sooner these morons accept their license-less fate the better. Personally, I'd count myself as one of the morons, I really shouldn't be allowed to drive, I'm an idiot behind the wheel and its only a matter of time before I end up either killing someone or myself, and no amount of traffic calming or speed camera's or any safety equipment will stop me unless they have some form of physical barrier to stop the car or me.

    Now, if I had no license, and thus no insurance, then of course I wouldn't bother, it would be too great a risk, I'd just go back to cycling and using public transport. And I certainly wouldn't ask the wife to drive me everywhere.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    How can 13% of all fatal casualties in 2007 be due to exceeding the speed limit?

    I would have though it was the stopping too quickly that cause the injuries...

  15. gareth

    police claim

    can i point out something people seem to have missed

    the police said speed was a factor in 13% of FATAL accidents

    the department of transport said speed was a factor in 6% ACCIDENTS

    can people please note the difference in these statistics before they try and compare them

  16. Steve Sherlock
    Stop

    Re: Lies, damned lies and.......

    Unfortunately that wouldn't work, because we all slow down when passing dangerous areas anyway (when was the last time you drove past a school at 30mph during kicking out time?) so there'd be no profit. We'd still (as taxpayers) be picking up the bill to operate the camera though :(

  17. Bob Hoskins

    It doesn't matter.....

    ....this government love cameras and Big Gordon is watching you.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good for Swindon

    However, the councilman will likely face retailiation by the rozzers.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    I wonder if

    anyone who fancies a bit of experimenting might like to turn up at crash sites with a bunch of bananas, then when the rate of accidents falls you would indeed then be able to prove that bananas reduce accidents.

    I think renaming Speed cameras to iCam, iPhoto or some other nonsense and painting them white would certainly reduce the speed with all the Apple muppets slowing down to gawp at the things. Some would probably pay the fine even if they weren't caught!!

  20. Mad Dave

    I'm sure there's a name

    For a system of laws in which the police carry out actions irrespective of the wishes of elected officials. Hang on 'til I check my newspeak dictionary....

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    how much???

    Hang on - the annual maintenance for three cameras is £320,000 ?

    Now /thats/ a fuzzy figure - or rather a ludicrous one.

    It'd be cheaper to pay a dozen unemployed brickies to stand in more places and write down numberplates of people passing too quickly. Not only that but they could note down the morons talking on phones, with 8 kids in a 5-seater, with unrestrained animals in the car, tailgating, weaving through the traffic, with defective cars etc. Y'know, like real police are supposed to do.

    You could even call them something snazzy like Community Support Officers...

  22. Nigel Wright
    Thumb Up

    There is a lot of fun to be had on the A68 north of the border..

    There's nothing I like more than a bit of hog-baiting by riding my high performance motorcycle towards Gatsos on the A68. The A68 is over-populated with them. This is guaranteed to trigger the camera which, is met with one of Winston's finest salutes....or a derivative of. Not having a forward facing numberplate effectively makes me immune to detection. I've been doing it for 10 yrs now.

    ...oh and I haven't had a fatality either thereby proving a point.....

  23. Graham
    Stop

    speed camera whiners

    Isn't it unfair when you get in trouble for breaking the law?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can...

    .. in effect kill someone doing 10mph in a 30mph zone, Placing a speed camera there to stop people speeding, only stops.. well.. people speeding. You hit someone even doing the speed limit chances are they are going to die or be seriously injured.

  25. Steve

    Re: Do you know what DOES reduce accidents?

    I regularly drive to Lincoln along a road with signs that show the number of fatalities that year which are nothing more than a distraction.

    What slows me down is approaching a corner and seeing skid marks leading to a car shaped whole in the hedge.

  26. Mark

    £320,000 it pays annually towards just three fixed cameras

    For the same amount, ten people could be paid a GOOD wage for standing at the roadside with a camera.

    And being multi-purpose, they could do more than just go "speeding" "not speeding", they can go "drunk as a skunk" too.

    Just have them stand in the rain and take piccies.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @Ash

    A friend of mine once commented, "Oh look, it must be the lamp-post's birthday!"

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why do they do it?

    I'm sure it's been said thousands of times - they go after speeding because they can - it's easy. Conveniently, it also raises revenue. Speed is a factor (speed is always a factor, since if the vehicle was stationary, there'd be no accident, and no bloody point, of course) but so often not stated is that the primary cause of an accident is a driver making a serious error of judgement. Other causitive agents, including distractions, fatigue, poor visibility (save fog), road conditions, etc., are hardly ever reported and almost never debated.

    It seems the statistics, when properly understood, tell us what we've 'known' through common sense for some time - that speed is not quite the demon it's been made out to be and that speed control measures aren't anywhere near as effective as they're supposed to be. Both, however, cause angst and divert resources from other measures that may well be more effective, and fairer.

    I don't advocate "stupid" speeding or street racing - both very dangerous - but rather, as I was taught from day one by my driving instuctor, I say that driving to the conditions is far more important than obeying a sign, and if the driver's behaviour was reasonable given the conditions, then he or she should not be pursued by the law.

    I'm heartily sick of a minority of people trying to decide what's right for all people all of the time, when they can't possibly perfectly predict future circumstances or what is optimum, and then tell us that there's "zero tolerance" to any alternative.

  29. Mark

    re: police claim

    And if these cameras reduced the number of fatal accidents by 50% then there are just as many people being killed by fatal accidents when speeding as used to be merely harmed or killed by speeding before them. 7% vs 6%.

    14% is only worthwhile if there's been a less than 50% reduction in fatal accidents.

    And in that case, are the cameras helping as much as the money going elsewhere would?

  30. Bassey
    Unhappy

    Re: Do you know what DOES reduce accidents?

    Actually Ash, that's completely untrue. It's been shown in studies (can't find 'em now but have read them - honest!) that these road-side memorials CAUSE accidents. The police are constantly asking people not to do it. You get the rubber necking effect, people braking too hard. There have even been really tragic accidents when those placing flowers have stopped their car in a dangerous spot and have been seriously injured or killed whilst placing the flowers or whilst getting in/out of the car.

    It's a hard one, 'cause you can't really tell some grieving parent/widow/widower etc. NOT to place flowers at the site of their loved ones tragic death but it DOES cause accidents.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Gareth re: the police said speed was a factor in 13% of FATAL accidents

    Both stats are wrong.

    Speed is a factor in 100% of ALL accidents...

    If nothings moving at all, then you cant have one.

  32. Columbus
    Stop

    Roadworks are much better at preventing speeding

    As someone who travels up the A419, I can attest that speeding has been eradicated by Swindon Council at the Turnpike roundabout. £320 000 buys an awful lot of cones.... Think of the new and interesting chicanes which can be put in. Perhaps a mobile PifPaf on the A428 just before a mobile speed camera, then they could nick drivers who fancied themselves as Swindons answer to Lewis Hamilton.

    I also think that the recently burnt out speed camera at the Turnpike, which has now been removed, has the same effect of slowing down traffic as rubbernecking at an accident.

    Stop sign as that is the best way of slowing down speeders.

  33. Nic
    Flame

    Self involved commentards

    Those spouting the usual crap about why don't they catch real criminals, cash machines etc. sound completely idiotic and irresponsible.

    If your child was run over by someone speeding you would soon change your tune.

    When you are awarded a licence to drive on the public highways you are given permission to move roughly a tonne of metal and glass at speed through areas populated by flesh and bone bodies. It doesn't take a genius to work out that you should operate them within the constraints of a speed limiting system and take great care. The concept that when you see an empty road you should/can put your foot down is idiotic and irresponsible.

    The government is YOUR government. If you are not happy with it run for something and stop armchair prophesying. Any income from speed cameras comes from people breaking the law. You don't need to do it. You can opt not to fund speed cameras by simply not speeding. If you can't do that then don't drive or at least don't drive anywhere near my kids.

  34. abigsmurf
    Thumb Down

    The Register is just as fuzzy?

    Just in case we hadn’t got the message, he added: "Nationally 13 per cent of all fatal casualties in 2007 were due to exceeding the speed limit." This figure is rather different from the one quoted by Peter Greenhalgh, the Tory councillor behind the idea, who said annual figures from the Department for Transport published in September showed just six per cent of collisions had been caused by people breaking speed limits.

    Erm, those stats are different because they're measuring different things.

    One is measuring collisions, the other is measuring fatalities. To use an example; if a little girl runs out in front of me, I'd probably hit her if I was doing 30 or 80. The collision wasn't caused by speeding. However at 30, it would be unlikely to be a fatal collision whilst at 80 the little girl would stand no chance. The speeding caused the fatality but not the collision.

    If you're going to call people out on manipulating stats, it's best to try and avoid doing the same by comparing non-like stats.

  35. Tim
    Thumb Up

    Speed cameras - Bring 'em on

    What's the problem with using speed cameras as a cynical revenue raising measure anyway? Let's not forget these cameras only catch people who are BREAKING THE LAW.

    If the government has to raise a certain amount of revenue, I would rather they taxed people who choose to break the law more than those who don't. And while we're at it, let's get rid of all the warning signs and have the cameras properly camouflaged so that people can't just slow down for 100 yards and then start driving ILLEGALLY again once they're past the camera. That would raise even more tax.

    I'm sick of this popular opinion that, for speeding offences it's ok to break the law as long as you can get away with it? We wouldn't accept that for any other area of law.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    speeding or fast buck ?

    Look here everyone if speed was the real cause of stupid humans running across a motorway or crossing the road without looking, what the gov would do is introduce (SPEND MONEY) on a system where by your car would only go as fast as the maximum speed limit.

    They would approach car companies and say we have max limit of 70 anything above that is illegal

    But no they don't want to do this because they don't want to drive away big business as well as it wont be a stealth tax no longer, since it would have to spend their own money to keep those dumb humans safe from harm.

    I wonder why they do not overestimate crime figures or overestimate jobless figures as much

    AHH its not to their favour now is it meanwhile this is.... typical really I dont trust not 1 politrician or plod.. their all as bad as the mafia

    The truth is speed camera's are a case for more accidents "The amount of times I have had to break sharp or been behind someone who has breaked sharply to miss a speeding ticket well that it self was a near accident no more needs to be said.

    If only they

  37. Nigel Callaghan Silver badge

    Blunt instrument

    The whole 'speed limit' thing is a very blunt instrument to tackle a complex issue. Someone earlier suggested that no-one would complain about cameras in a 20mph zone outside a school. But why should there be a 20mph limit outside a school at 2am on a Sunday morning during the school holidays? Surely we should use the technology to have variable speed limits with the posted limit being adjusted according to a pattern and displayed on those nice electronic limit signs. Then the school could have a 20mph limit at starting and leaving times (Mon-Fri, term time only) 30mph during the rest of the day and 60mph after 10pm or somesuch. Lolipop ladies/gents are only on duty at appropriate times, why aren't 20mph zones only there at appropriate times as well? (Or is a 24/7 20mph zone cheaper than paying a lolipop bod?)

    And with variable limits we're all much more likely to actually check the signs and be aware of the current limit - a lot of low-level speeding is due to people pottering along with their mind on other things, along roads they're familiar with, and they just aren't particularly conscious that they are speeding - the road is clear and dry, there are no children playing etc, so people automatically drive at a 'safe speed'. Personally I'd feel safer with drivers keeping a safe distance, and an eagle eye on what's going on and doing 35 in a 30mph limit, than someone who does 29 but has his eyes glued to the speedo for fear of cameras rather than watching out for hazards. Of course there are still the nutters....hanging's too good for them!

  38. Colin Millar
    Boffin

    @Phil

    " if you have a statistically abnormal event, such as a higher number of accidents in a given period, then the number of accidents in the next period will necessarily be lower "

    Not quite

    There is a greater probability that it will be lower because probability is highest at the mean and lower as you get away from it.

    However, all such statistical analysis suffers from the same problem in that the statistics tend to be analysed in relative isolation from the world. Also, rtm assumes that you know what the mean is and that the mean has any real value as a comparison. I doubt that the mean level of accidents over the UK is of any real world value at all because of local conditions.

    There are loads of effects that can contribute. One is traffic levels at the site and in the surrounding area and over time. School holidays, a long sunny spell, disruption or major changes to public transport provision can affect traffic levels as can temporary roadworks, permanent changes to the road layout at the site or elsewhere in the area. And the effect of traffic levels isn't a clear relationship either to speed or accidents. Very low traffic levels can lead to high speeds through an area but low accidents. Very high traffic levels can lead to crawling traffic and low accidents. The highest accident point is highly likely to be somewhere between those two points. It would, however, be a mistake to think that would lead to a curve.

    The only sensible approach to traffic management is to undertake schemes based on the local conditions and not statistical analysis. As we should all know following the financial events of the last few weeks reliance on number crunching without applying empirical knowledge never ever leads to a good outcome.

  39. dervheid
    Boffin

    @Nigel the Wright Twat

    That'll be because the GATSO camera is designed to take pictures of the REAR of the offending vehicle. It's not 'smart' enough to discern direction, just speed.

    Presumably, you've only been baiting the cameras facing towards you. Let's see you do the same trick with half a dozen that are on your side of the road...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @AC

    So if I were to shop within 3 miles of my home I think I could probably buy a tree...what a completely and utterly useless suggestion. Obviously you are a townie. Try living in the countryside and be told to shop within 3 miles, or using the the 'integrated' public transport system....

  41. Lee Griffin

    This is more complex than you would think...

    Related to the “flowers” post above, is part of human behaviour. If you have a near miss whilst driving, you will be especially careful for a while. As a result, in theory, dangerous bits of road decrease accidents in the surrounding area (you drive away concerned about the state of your underwear, and if your heart still functions. You are careful not to do that again). A reducto ad absurdum argument would be that the safest road safety measure would be to remove ABS, seatbelts, airbags, crumplezones and whatever, and stick a four inch metal spike in the middle of the steering wheel. Very few people would take any risk at all - no road incidents whatsoever.

    The book “Risk” by John Adams (ISBN 1857280687) is worth a read on this. It’s a little old, but a fascinating study into how useless most of the statistics mentioned in this article and comments are for making decisions.

  42. Simon
    Go

    @Nic

    Give us half a chance to get rid of the government and we will stand or just vote them out....seems to me this government knows it's on a looser and is just hanging on as long as it can.

  43. Avian

    How...

    is it that even by the Police Forces inflated figure of 12% of we are so obsessed with the speeding factor in accidents? Presumably the 78% being not being addressed don't matter?

    Oh how silly it's not about road safety it's really about road revenue and nothing else.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Bassey Excellent Point

    I would also like to add:

    How crazy to put a granite block on a frass verge where a motorcyclist ended up and died, ready for the next one who gets it wrong and comes off to smash his head on??

  45. Alexis Vallance

    11mph

    You've got to be going pretty fast to kill somebody.

    The average speed that pedestrians are hit in a 30mph zone is 11mph. Basically because people do tend to brake when they see someone in front of them.

    If you're going 30 and hit somebody at 30, there's got to be something pretty wrong with your reactions ie. drugs/drink.

    In theory, the 30mph speed limit could be raised to 40 and the accident rate wouldn't change much if you removed all the drink, drugged and tired drivers from the streets.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Thank you El Reg...

    ...for confirming irrefutably that:

    1) Speed kills

    2) Speed cameras work

    Only the criminals (i.e. those breaking the speed limit) need fear the camera. If you get caught, it's your own fault.

    Speed kills. Slow down, the life you save may be your own or that of someone you love.

  47. Alexis Vallance

    Flowers

    "The police are constantly asking people not to do it. You get the rubber necking effect, people braking too hard. There have even been really tragic accidents when those placing flowers have stopped their car in a dangerous spot and have been seriously injured or killed whilst placing the flowers or whilst getting in/out of the car."

    Not true. Don't you remember the fake memorials the police started to put up to make people think?

    Flowers by a roadside are no different from billboard ads. You don't see ads being removed!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Solution

    1) Teach people to drive properly. Less concentrating on maneuvering and more concentration on how to actually drive a car on a road. The fact that there is nothing on the syllabus covering what to do in the event of an accident, or what to do if your vehicle starts to slide or aquaplane, or how to bring your vehicle safely to a stop in the event of a mechanical failure of some kind.

    I personally think how to change a tire and what dashboard lights mean should be covered too.

    2) Keep the cameras, but remove their ability to put points on your license. Make it clear that they are a revenue stream first, and that any benefits they provide are entirely incidental. Then use the money they generate to HIRE REAL TRAFFIC POLICE and have them actually enforce the other driving laws. We'd see a marked reduction in accidents then, I suspect, as the old foreign plates cop out wouldn't be effective anymore. People might start indicating properly, and giving way occasionally then too.

  49. Master Baker
    Flame

    @Nic

    I promise not to drive next to your kids if you promise not to let them play in the road, you ball bag.

  50. Paul McConkey
    Flame

    @ bikertards (simon, nigel wright)

    As the only self proclaimed bikers in these comments also appear to believe in speeding, it is clear that 100% of bikers are speed freak knobheads and that the simplest way to reduce speeding incidents in the UK will be to ban, with immediate effect, every motorbike. I challenge anyone to dispute my statistics.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Nic

    You miss the point people are making. In a world of cameras someone driving 1 metre behind you and your kids doing 70mph, in an old banger, steering with their knees, on their mobile is not going to get caught (therefore unlikely to stop his behaviour). They want a policeman to spot this behaviour and stop it.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lies, Damned Lies and Police Statistics

    You only have to look at today's news on crime statistics (and previous similar embarassing incidents for official crime figures) to see that the police statistics will always show what their political masters want them to show. Mainly, I suspect, because there is a perception that if they give the government the figures they want then they will receive more funding as a result. Whether that is true or not is a question that only the government can answer.

    The very fact that the police estimate whether speed was a cause of an accident tells you all you need to know about the figures. An estimated meter "reading" does not tell you how much gas I used in the last quarter. Likewise an estimation of speed does not tell you how fast a vehicle was travelling. If hard evidence of speed can't be recorded then no estimate should be made. Statistica based on estimates are totally worthless.

    Do we have an estimate of how many of these estimates were actually incorrect?

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Nic

    "If your child was run over by someone speeding you would soon change your tune."

    A child corssing the road, hit by a car doing 50 mph in a 60mph zone. The child will die.

    So is it better

    a) To put a speed camera in place to NOT catch the car doing less than the speed limit

    or

    b) Spend the money teaching the kids about road safety?

    6 - 12% is caused bu speed.

    That leaves 88 - 94% not caused by speed. Now where would the money be best spent?

    Here's some ideas:

    a) Bad driving. This can be due to driving to fast for the conditions or the car, BUT nothing to do with speed itself, otherwsise everyone doing over 30 mph will be dead.

    How about incentives for people, like discounted car control course or advanced driving courses?

    b) Pedestrans not looking when crossing, or crossing in unsuitable places

    "51. 80% of child pedestrian KSIs occurred away from pedestrian crossing facilities in 2005.....28% of these child casualties were masked from the driver's view by a parked or stationary vehicle" - source dft 2005 statisics.

    Lets drill it into the kids the "Green Cross Code" and how about regular cycle lessons, dedicated school buses? (Almost as many kids are killed in cars as out of them)

    c) Lack of safe routes for cyclist and pedestrians. This could be inproved lighting, more pedestrian crossing, barriers and decent cycle lanes.

    Some of the figures banded are extremly biased a road near where I live they hailed the cameras a success as the casulty rate dropped on a busy dual carrageway dropped by about 70%. The fact they reduced the speed limt, closed off all the crossing point, added 2 sets of extra lights, improved the juntcions , added longer slips roads, must of been purely cosmetic.

    I'm all for the Council, it's not their job to Police the roads, so why not spend it on other road safety schemes.

  54. david wilson

    @gareth

    >>"can people please note the difference in these statistics before they try and compare them"

    But that might lessen some people's sense of righteous indignation at being expected to obey the law (or at least, obey the law+10%+3mph, or whatever).

    Clearly, we'd be *far* better either not having any speed limits, or having them, but not actually bothering to enforce them.

    Still, it would be good to see all the statistics about the claimed factors contributing to serious or fatal accidents

    It'd also be interesting to see what correlation there was between being involved in such accidents, and having a history of speeding convictions.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    What is a life worth?

    The big issue isn't really speed cameras, it's the fact that the government has decided it wants to reduce road fatalities, and one of its chosen methods is to make people drive slower. All around where I live, roads are having their speed limits reduced and traffic-calming is being introduced. Although people argue about speed cameras, the evidence is they have at least a small effect on the number of accidents, and other measures reducing speed probably also save a few lives.

    The question nobody seems to be asking is: what is the balance between wanting to get to places reasonably quickly and wanting to end up dead? Politicians are totally unprepared to talk about death dispassionately, whether it's the inevitable civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether it's drug rationing, or whether it's in transport. People need to grow up and think about these issues like adults.

  56. Elmer Phud
    Go

    Rubber-necking flowers

    So, if bunches of dead flowers (yeah, remember someone by killing plants) contribute towards crashes then surely police ought to go after the suppliers. The flower sellers at traffic lights, garage forecourts and supermarkets are all culpable. Yer average buyer of small amounts is once again fingered and the pushers get clean away.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Phil Staite

    "if you have a statistically abnormal event, such as a higher number of accidents in a given period, then the number of accidents in the next period will necessarily be lower as a direct result of the previous period having a higher number"

    So I throw three sixes in a row, by your reasoning I'm less likely to throw a six on my next go. Crap. Or indeed craps. My chances of throwing a six on my next go is one in six, just like it was on the previous three goes.

    RTM means that after my three sixes things will continue as normal, IOW I will continue to have a 1 in 6 change of throwing a six every time I throw the dice. So after enough throws of the dice things will tend back towards the expected mean of having thrown exactly the same number face on the dice. The important word in that sentence being TEND. That is to say there will be a tendency towards things averaging out to the expect mean, it will not quickly return to the expected mean by a lack of sixes until things reach the expected mean.

    If you get three consecutive heads when tossing a coin, there is no statistcal rule that says your next three throws will come up tails.

    BTW Local authorities and safety partnerships are not necessairilly the best of friends. There was a high accident stretch of road not far from my house. The police were adamant that the cause of the accidents was excess speed. The highways department of the LA were adamant it was the layout of the junction, and spent a fortune on realigning the junction. The police insisted that a speed camera should be installed. The police made no contribution to the junction improvements, but the LA were expected to contribute to the speed camera. Of course nobody can prove which solution is responsible for the fall in accidents, if indeed either of them are.

  58. Steve

    The real truth, plus more!

    Gareth (Friday 24th October 2008 13:01 GMT) is correct.

    For Fred (24th October 2008 12:35 GMT):

    While it is true that 12% of all fatalities involve a driver in excess of the speed limit, the speed won’t be the only factor. There are an average of 2.4 contributing factors per fatality (source: dft_transstats_612594.pdf). So the driver who nearly killed me last month probably was in excess of the speed limit (well, he took a lamppost 90 meters down the road, from my side of the pavement – passing me with it in the process (not bad for a 40 limit), but I think the fact that he was arrested on scene with 95mg on his breath was the real reason for my everso near miss.

    HOWEVER, use of the fatality figure in this instance is highly misleading.

    Speed camera effectiveness is measured on the rate of KSI (killed or seriously injured) not just fatalities; indeed the installation policy was based on KSI rates. It follows that less than 12% of all KSIs involve a driver in excess of the speed limit. But hey, are we really surprised of this additional example of convenient interpretation of statistics by those pro-camera!

    And for the inevitable speedophile comments (those truly obsessed with speed)

    @Nic Posted Friday 24th October 2008 13:34 GMT:

    How about

    If your child was run over by someone NOT speeding (or otherwise offending) you should face jail for neglect for failing to ensure they are able to cross the roads. Let’s be honest, many, many, many more are killed by lawful drivers than those driving in an illegal manner. It’s funny how those anti anti-speed camera never mentions that huh!

    “It doesn't take a genius to work out that you should operate them within the constraints of a speed limiting system and take great care”

    I would bet money that you don’t know the real reason why that is. Only knowledge of that will let one understand how our road safety policy is failing (and it IS failing).

    Steve B (safespeed member)

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Fuzzy" figures

    am i the only one to notice the great strapline?

    Oh, and for the record, regression to the mean is exactly as El Reg describes, It does not apply if a change is made to the road environment, this would create a new mean.

  60. Joe Montana
    Flame

    Speed cameras do little good...

    Driving along the A40, there are a number of speed cameras on a road with 3 lanes either side which goes from a speed limit of 40, to 50 and then 70 as you get further out of london...

    If the traffic is quiet enough, people do 70-80 through the 40mph bit, hit the brakes hard for the camera (potentially causing a crash if someone is tailgating), and then accelerating heavily afterwards (thus wasting fuel)... Come the 50 and 70mph limits they just increase speed by another 10-20mph.

    The worst part is the sudden deceleration for the camera. It doesn't change the speed people drive except for that small area, but it does add the danger of the sudden braking.

    Incidentally, the speed limits were created many years ago... Since then cars have become more powerful and considerably safer. A modern car will quite happily cruise at well over 100mph... Why not raise the motorway speed limits during off-peak times so you can cruise up an empty road at 100mph? People do this anyway...

  61. Register Reader
    Thumb Down

    Yeah, right

    "You can opt not to fund speed cameras by simply not speeding. If you can't do that then don't drive or at least don't drive anywhere near my kids."

    Or, alternatively you could opt to teach your kids common sense when it comes to road traffic. You don't have to be hit by a car that is doing more than the speed limit to get killed by it. If you jump out from behind a car at the very last moment, the driver has almost nothing they can do, and may end up steering into oncoming traffic. If your kids are going to be causing road accidents like that, don't let them anywhere near my car.

    I fully agree with the current speed limits in built up areas, but most of the talk here is about speeding on motorways where a lot of the time it is perfectly safe to drive over the speed limit. There used to be no speed limits on motorways. They weren't even put in place because of accidents - they were put in place because some idiot drove his 180mph racing car down it and the government got spooked at what *might* happen. Police drivers are still trained to drive well over the speed limit, so don't try to pretend that it is always automatically unsafe to drive over the limit if you have had proper training.

    If only 12% of fatal accidents happen while over the speed limit, that tells you that speed is a pretty *small* factor in accidents. What percentage of people regularly break the speed limit? I'd suggest about 15% or more since Wikipedia states that speed limits are usually set by an 85th percentile rule. Greater speed does reduce reaction time, but accidents are always caused by driver error, like taking a corner too fast (too fast might still be under the speed limit) or observation. Going slower does observation easier. If you trained people to do more observation, they naturally drive slower around town. I know I did when I did my advanced driver training and test. But if you train people to think that being under the speed limit automatically makes everything okay, they can spend more time thinking about the speedometer than worrying about what is happening around them.

    People like you need to stop with your whiny "think of the children" act. People do not mind 30mph speed limits in residential areas. This is more about B road and motorway driving. Your children should *not* be playing in these roads if you have done your job as a parent.

  62. Igor Mozolevsky
    IT Angle

    Lying with stats

    As we all know statistics allows us to show pretty much anything, right?.. So do they really mean that the 20% reduction (which is attributed to the speed cameras) in accidents are only taking into the account the accidents that actually were due to exceeding the speed limit? Thus, if the total number of accidents caused by speeding are 6% of the total, 20% reduction in 6% is a mere 1.2%!..

    Where's the IT angle btw?..

  63. Nic
    Flame

    @ replies to Nic

    The Ball bag comment made me laugh :)

    I keep my kids safe as I can and yes I do teach them as well as possible.

    I agree speed is not 100% of the cause of accidents but accidents at slower speeds cause less fatalities. Simple.

    For the sake of getting there a couple of minutes early (or worse pissing away fuel by accelerating up to traffic lights like so many numpties do) you are willing to put peoples lives in further danger.

    Of course YOU are a safe driver, its all the other idiots on the road. They don't have your skills. For that matter, you drive better with a drink in you. Blaa blaa blaa.

    The only reason most of the anti-cam prats in this thread are so verbose about the subject is that it is one of the few aspects of law that actually affects them. Okay so you don't go shop lifting but you DO break the law on the road. But that's not a real crime, not really no...

    wake up and smell the sh!t you are spreading.

    Oh and to the Motor Bike guy. You sound like an angry teenager not a grown adult.

  64. The Other Steve

    Hang on a bit

    So, the widely reviled speed cameras not only really do reduce accidents (by 20%), but they also turn a profit* ?

    I'm sorry, can someone point out the problem with that again ?

    Arguments against our new dayglo overlords seem to be largely based on what they don't do, viz catching all the other pricks. While I agree that 'Something Must Be Done'** about the appalling standards of driver competence to which I am regularly witness, this is a bit like saying that screwdrivers aren't much good for hammering in nails. Like, duh!

    I would have thought that dropping accident figures at black spots by 20% and making a profit out of it is a Good Thing. After all, an improvement for cheaper than free seems like awfully good value. Sure the state and it's pointy headed enforcers are fudging the figures a bit, but if that sort of thing really bugs you, go live in a democracy.

    As a further point, I'd suggest that driving over the posted limit on any road is probably ill advised, since it's become clear to me that traffic engineers are a deeply anti social bunch who would seemingly rather we were all dead. YMMV.

    *Although that statement seems to conflict with the GBP 320k for a share of three cams figure, unless there really are an awful lot of utter knob heads on the roads of Swindon.

    ** Spouting about driver education in this context is an epic fail, since what would really be required is actually mass driver RE education, and I doubt you''d all be willing to hand your licences back in and be forced to undergo a re-test at advanced level, for instance, and even in the unlikely event that it were to happen, it's quite obvious that as soon as a solid majority of drivers get their licence, they ignore everything they werer ever taught.

  65. Paul McConkey

    @ Lee Griffin

    From experience I'm pretty sure that spikes in the steering wheels, no air bags, etc. will do nothing to make drivers more careful.

    Every day I drive on a 4 mile stretch of bendy, narrow fen road with BIG ditches on either side, slow moving tractors, fast moving speedfreak knobhead bikertards and poor visibility. All those dangerous things haven't stopped me seeing two cars in the ditch and one on its roof shortly after it passed me.

    You can take a driver to a dangerous bend but you can't make him (most likely) slow down.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    realpolitik

    I love the diplomatic way Dr. Mountain deals with the issue of revenues. To paraphrase: they save lives and they make shedloads of dosh in the process, so we're not going to look into the details too closely, innit?

    Personally, I think there's got to be a better way of improving road safety than just fining motorists for speeding offences. Setting up a public database of road safety figures (no. of accidents, fatalities, amount of traffic, and road quality metrics like surface condition, road markings, black spots, average speeds, etc.) would make more sense than any ID database. You could cap revenues available from speed cameras and/or make access to the funds raised in this way conditional on showing an improvement in road safety. You have to decouple the idea of speed cameras as safety device and revenue stream, otherwise it's just a license to print money and none of the metrics will be trustworthy, as pointed out in the article.

    I'd like to see more effort put into driver education, and not just over speeding. I wonder has the MoT ever considered scrapping mandatory fines and replacing it with warnings-then-fines? Or discretionary fines, where the officer can use his judgement as to how dangerous your driving was? Maybe this is all pie in the sky thinking, but I'd like to think that the police could improve road safety by educating road users about the risks they're putting themselves and others in instead of merely doling out punitive measures. A friendly word to the wise ("oh my, overtaking on a blind corner? do you realise how lucky you were not to be creamed?") should do more to change behaviour than jumping straight into an antagonistic legal scenario. It'd be nice to see a Cops-style tv program that eschewed car chases and idiot criminals for practical road safety advice, too.

    I would be in favour of having fines linked to the driver's income, though, as is the case in Finland, I think.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Nic - Self involved commentards

    There are a lot of people opposed to the use of speed cameras that aren't saying that they agree with speeding. The problem that many of us, including me, is that the speed cameras are only looking at *one* contributory factor in road accidents. As many people have stated in comments in this and other realted threads, speed cameras are an "easy" and frankly lazy way for some authorities to be seen to be applying some measures to combat accidents.

    I personally agree with the other commenters who have expressed the opinion that less money should be spent on speed cameras and much more on having traffic officers back out patrolling the roads. The experience that these officers get during their service means that they are often able to spot and stop dangerous drivers before they get into an accident. They can see the drunken or drugged up driver that's weaving across the road, the drivers distracted by using a mobile phone or having a child loose in the back seat, the road rage driver tailgating someone in front of them, the driver cutting in and out of traffic to try and get a few yards further up the road in slow moving traffic, etc., etc.. These will only be picked up by the cameras if they also happen to be speeding. I personally feel that an increase in traffic officers will have a much better impact on road safety.

    One final thing to talk about and that's the fact that I think that there should be variable speed limits on certain roads during different parts of the day. For example, I travel from one side of Leeds to the other several times a week using the M621. This is a 3-lane motorway that has a speed limit of 50mph along much of the route. I can understand this during the day when there's lots of traffic coming on and off the different junctions, but then when I'm travelling along it at 1 or 2 in the morning with hardly another car in sight, why can't I do 70? I'm sure that there are many other roads around where the set speed limit is set lower than normal for a periodic set of circumstances that could have those lifted to the normal speed limit where those circumstances no longer apply.

  68. frymaster

    The consequences of our actions

    you break the law (by speeding) I don't see why you should complain about attempts to catch you

    speed cameras are used _because_ they don't require highly trained (and therefore expensive# people to stand there, because those people might be needed elsewhere, and because, by members of the public continually getting caught by them, there's a demostrable need for them.

    if noone speeded there'd be no point in speed cameras. If you think the speed limits are wrong, then vote in someone that'll change them. No politician wants to change them? Probably because most people disagree with you. Them's the breaks.

    note: 320,000 a year does not equal 10 people at 32,000 a year each. Admin overheads (like, say, a building for them to leave their paperwork and change, never mind administrating PAYE and national insurance) add more than you'd think

  69. James Pickett

    Scammed

    Given the difficulty the police appear to have adding up crime stats, you'd think they'd be a bit more circumspect with them in other areas. One thing I'm not clear about: howcome the council is paying for the upkeep when the pratnership gets to keep the income?

  70. Igor Mozolevsky
    Paris Hilton

    RE: realpolitik

    "I would be in favour of having fines linked to the driver's income, though, as is the case in Finland, I think."

    So those who are most likely to speed - teenagers/doll-supported boy racers et al are free to continue to do so?

    (for some strange reason paris was already pre-selected :-D)

  71. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge
    Stop

    @Nic, Tim

    With respect, it's not really been proven that breaking the speed limit is the major cause of death or accidents. I am like most people when it comes to obeying the speed limits... if the road conditions allow it, I don't have a problem with going slightly over the speed limit. As someone pointed out, speed limits (and blind adherence to them) are a blunt instrument. The major factor as far as I can see is driver awareness (not their own sense of superior skill or reaction speed, as too many fools think they are "good drivers" and can respond in time to prevent an accident when in reality they can't).

    I live in Ireland and during the driving test the tester doesn't care so much if you break the speed limit. The safest speed to be travelling is the same speed as other traffic (notwithstanding other hazards such as pedestrians, etc), so if you're travelling on a good road with a 50km/hr speed limit but all the other traffic is doing at least 60km/hr, then the tester won't bat an eyelid if you're keeping pace with them, so long as you're keeping your distance, keeping an eye on other traffic, indicating properly, anticipating the need to slow down as conditions change, etc. As with designing user interfaces, the Principle of Least Astonishment applies well for driving too.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @Nigel Wright

    Police are now using experts (the same ones who are usually used to identify muggers from grainy CCTV footage) to pick out identifying marks on your bike (missing bolts, after market parts) facial features, clothing etc).. The description is handed to the local plod and next time you get stopped all your chickens come home to roost...

    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?Biker_jailed_for_pulling_82mph_wheelie&in_article_id=332586&in_page_id=34

    thought you might like to know..

  73. Nic
    Flame

    @Register Reader

    Firstly of course I teach my children proper road sense.

    Secondly, well we agree on built up areas so lets leave that one. As for motorway speeds; true they did not have speed restrictions at one point. Well done, there were far fewer cars then too and they had slower top speeds. / queue german motorway responses...

    "so don't try to pretend that it is always automatically unsafe to drive over the limit if you have had proper training."

    The quote above interest me. Its what I hear a lot of in one of my lines of work (which has a lot to do with this subject). Trained police are indeed permitted to travel above the speed limit. With that exception all others are not. Plain and simple dont speed it's law. Deal with it.

    Oh and on that note. It's people who claim that they know what they are doing so they can speed that put everyone in danger. Do you really expect the police and courts to accept that and say "Yeah you sound like you know what you are doing so you can go above the speed limit, all others can't though". EVERYONE (with the exception of my late grandad!) thinks they are capable of speeds over than 70 and that they know what they are doing.

    Plenty of people think they are okay with Class A drugs too. Should we let those that seem okay to take them?

    Drive at 70 and relax. It's not a slow speed, you will get to your destination and you may even live longer.

    / I sound like I am 80 in this post and I realise that. I'm actually 30 FYI.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    No surprise

    I asked the local Scammers about how they calculated their figures... no idea. After much pressing they revealed the figures were based on number of accidents from one camera, going down from 1 to 0! A 100% improvement in road safety.

    Ask them about the blatant flaw in their calculations and you get no answer.

    Lost faith in them years ago, it's just a blag for political and financial gain.

  75. Paul McConkey
    Flame

    @ Yeah, Right

    "Or, alternatively you could opt to teach your kids common sense when it comes to road traffic."

    Sanctimonious claptrap.

    And you probably need to read a few more comments - the discussion has included all classes of roads.

    Kids, along with other pedestrians, cyclists, animals, horses and riders, and even other motor vehicles do unpredictable things. The higher your speed, the less time you have to respond to an unforeseen event. Speed limits are set to find a balance between convenience for the vehicle user and level of injury for the victim.

    If you speed you are a knob. If yo speed and complain about speed cameras you are a completely feckless cumshedder.

    (I can take no credit for the excellent term of abuse I read in a different comment)

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    County Durham

    Anyone got stats to compare with County Durham? They don't have any fixed speed cameras at all, and as far as I know there are no plans to put them in place either. Instead they have mobile cameras which can be mobilised to any area they like (as long as the speed camera warning signs are in place of course). This means that:-

    A) You don't actually see these speed cameras about

    B) You can't just slow down at one particular site. They could be anywhere along a road that has speed camera signs.

    So, anyone got any stats to show that fixed speed cameras are neither cost effective or more useful in reducing accidents than road layout, signage and lighting?

  77. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Stop

    Safespeed

    Safespeed seems to have been little more than the late Paul Smith and his computer. Someone here claims to be a member - but although the website still seems to be soliciting £45 quid a year for nothing much, it seems to be otherwise moribund, with nothing on its homepage more recent than March 2007.

    Smith was a popular rentagob for journalists, but his claims were often ill thought out even if useful in an extremist sort of way.

  78. Eduard Coli
    Stop

    Anything to get out of real police work

    Speed rules need some degree of tolerance and the cameras remove that.

    Speed cameras a intrusive and repressive, they are obviously part of a hidden road tax.

  79. James

    A false presumption

    The presumption that the introduction of cameras as a road safety measure makes is that someone exceeding the speed limit is being dangerous, someone adhering to the limit is safe. At best this is woefully inaccurate, at best it is downright dangerous. You are effectively telling people that they can use the speed limit of a road to determine safe speeds, rather than actually reacting to current conditions. At times 120mph on the motorway is perfectly safe. At other times, 10mph in a 40 limit is deadly.

    People are conditioned to believe that speed, or lack thereof, makes them a safe driver. In reality a fixed speed limit for a road makes no sense in the majority of cases since it can give that false feeling of safety. 30mph past a school at 3:30, for example.

    All accidents are caused by either driver carelessness or by a freak occurance. Carelessness includes, in this definition, tail gaiting, lack of observation or just inadvisable maneuvers (overtaking on a blind bend, say). There are always going to be bad drivers on the roads and they are going to cause accidents. Suggesting that they cause those accidents because they exceed the speed limit is inaccurate. They cause them because they use inappropriate speed for the situation.

    To demonstrate more clearly what I mean, could you drive safely if you could not see the speedo in your car? Of course you could. In fact I would wager you would drive more safely, not because you feared the speed limits, but because you would become more aware of your surrounding.

    Idiots will always remain, those that drive recklessly should be punished to the full extent the law allows. Speed cameras should be abolished as they serve no purpose other than to give people a false perception of speed and safety and create ill feeling towards the police/government. They do not improve road safety in the majority of cases.

  80. Nic
    Thumb Up

    @The Other Steve

    Seconded.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE : realpolitik By Anonymous Coward

    "I wonder has the MoT ever considered scrapping mandatory fines and replacing it with warnings-then-fines?"

    certain forces will give you a 60 quid fine and a 3 hour warning/education instead of points if you're not more than 8 mph over the limit (30 and 40 limits only).. only get the option once every 3 years though..

    but police can and do use their judgment if they stop you.. say £60 and 3 points if it's late at night on an empty motorway and your speed would normally get you more..

    saying that i've been doing over a ton on the m40 at midnight and just got flashed with blue lights.. didn't even get pulled

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Why dont we try to prevent the other 87%

    There is two factors to any car crash ( i do not call them accidents as that implies that no one could have done anything about it).

    The one factor is speed and its a minor one.

    The second Factor is "teh stupid" and sadly this can not be quantified(yet)

    Some mentioned before that even according the inflated stats the speeding is only a factor in 13% of crashes.

    Why are we not trying to figure out the other 87% and try preventing those.

    Yes the other reason are drivers not paying attention to the road/conditions/environment.

    If a road is dry, with light or no traffic and and good visibility speed is not going to cause a crash, but if you are not paying attention to the road and other drivers out there that will cause a crash and speed only shortens the time you have for your reactions.

    I say make it mandatory to take a refresher driving test every 2-4 years.

    Make the penalties for other infractions more severe.

    Changing lanes without signaling, tailgating, cutting people off and other unsafe lane changes. Talking on the mobile without handsfree set, eating a sandwich or putting on makeup, reading newspaper or book. Yes i have seen all of those...

    Also car condition is important, if someones tire profile resembles Mr. TELLY SAVALAS head then the car doesn't belong on the road.

  83. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Making life harder...?

    "How hard is it to get a commercial airline pilots license? Very hard is the answer. Yet flying one (badly or expertly) is very easy, to the point of being easier than driving a car. So why isn't it harder to get a bike, car, van, lorry or towing license?..."

    Actually, for an averagely-abled person, it's quite easy to gain a PPL, and I suspect not much harder for a commercial one.

    What it also is, however, is EXPENSIVE. And TIME-CONSUMING. So no one will do it unless they have a reasonable chance of getting a well-paid job at the end of it. The proposal for making car licenses harder to get wilkl just end up as another tax....

  84. Fab De Marco

    Not a revenue raising tool.... prove it!!

    I have been caught speeding twice in my driving career, all points have been served and I am now clean and more mature about how I drive my Car. Admittendly this is due to me getting older rather than me learning from my mistakes.

    Anyway, when I got caught it wasn't the £60 fine that annoyed me (though it did cut into my beer money) It was more the fact that I got 3 points on my licence and realised that I was a few steps towards losing it.

    So if they want to prove that all they are interested in is public safety rather than making money, remove the fine and just slap the 3 points on the offenders. I wonder how many speed cameras local councils will put up if it only meant public safety will benefit.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accident rates are irrelevant.

    There's a speed limit set by law, and the law must be enforced, cameras do this quite well.

    There needs to be a speed limit or it would be nigh on impossible to get out of awkward junctions.

  86. Mark

    @Igor Mozolevsky

    Both the toff and the benefits kid will have three points on their license.

    Being without a car means the benefits kid will be unable to drive a car (or face prison). A toff won't be put in prison, and can afford a chauffer. Unless he's dinged 1% of his salary for each offense, he won't care about the fine (unlike the benefits kid) and the ban doesn't mean he can't manage (unlike the benefits kid).

  87. Steve

    @Tim: The real road safety message

    Your comments are a diversion from the speed camera debate; the article is about speed cameras, not speed enforcement per se.

    In an ideal world your point would be valid, unfortunately they aren’t.

    Yes, we need speed limits (although perhaps not all the time for all roads); yes we need people to abide by them, but that does not mean the limits should keep being reduced; there is such a thing as too low too. To take limits below reasonable levels encourages drivers to exceed the speed limit, both deliberately and accidentally. This makes the actions of drivers unpredictable hence other road users cannot reliably predict the actions of drivers – that’s the real danger. Many dual carriageways with their new 30 limits are perfect examples, as are 40 limits through mile upon mile of motorway roadworks. About a third of all motorway accidents are sleep related (that’s more than exceeding the speed limit), so do we really want to make this worse by forcing drivers to drive in less stimulating conditions, for longer?

    “We wouldn't accept that for any other area of law.”

    Exactly! There is something really wrong with how this part of the law is being applied!

  88. Mark

    @Nic "slower speeds cause less fatalities"

    But that's not "speed kills".

    If you drive below the speed limit but are concentrating on

    a) the tailgater who won't be happy unless you're AT the limit

    b) the speedo because you won't be happy if the car goes over the limit

    you can have many more accidents.

    Fewer deaths, but having your bollocks speared by the bull bars is not nice.

    Oh, and on the "think of the children" bit. 4x4 moms who DEMAND a large car like this "to protect my children" you don't seem to give a shit that your car has a bonnet that rather than throw the child up and over will hit them square, making a more certain kill (or throwing them on the ground in front of your wheels). Bull bars make the recipient of a collision more likely to die.

    So why not ban them or fine people five times the amount for any accident with such a vehicle speeding/being in an accident? After all, if the reason for the cams is to punish speeding and remove the fatalities, these 4x4 bullbars should be banned or fined too, yes?

    And you can't say that you're a safe driver, so it's OK for you. As you just pointed out, everyone says "I'm a good driver, it's all the others that are crap".

  89. Nic
    Boffin

    @realpolitik and Igor Mozolevsky

    Igor Mozolevsky Posted Friday 24th October 2008 15:21 GMT

    "I would be in favour of having fines linked to the driver's income, though, as is the case in Finland, I think

    If you go to Magistrates court rather than go for a fixed penalty that is excatly what you will get. Fines are banded as perecentages of your income.

    That goes for all fines in court.

  90. Andrew Kemp
    Thumb Up

    @Nic, agree with you 100%

    Couldn't agree with you more Nic, glad to see there are at least a few of us with some sense.

    To the guy who is proud to announce that he races up to cameras on his bike and throws them the V sign because of the lack of a front plate - you sir are a chasm amongst all the other a'holes and give all bikers a bad name.

    Why is it so hard to keep below the limit, why is it so important to have to race from one place to the next. I personally wouldn't care if the statistics only showed that all the cameras only reduced road deaths by 1% - I can't actually believe that many of the numpties here actually think any percentage is acceptable...

  91. Dangermouse

    @Nic

    Only 30?

    You must be great fun at a party.

  92. Steve

    me again

    @Ian Johnston

    The same could be said about your comments; the difference is that those from safespeed are explained as opposed to simply claimed. The fact is that many cogent arguments have been put into the spotlight, rightly so, partly thanks to the safespeed campaign. Only disingenuous bigots would seek to discredit it. Prove me wrong by addressing the points I have raised!

    @County Durham

    YES, I have such a document FROM THE TRL – the data is very telling indeed. In terms of % change of accidents (from before and after installation), Speed cameras and RLCs are within the bottom 5 of 34 safety measures.

    @ The Other Steve

    “So, the widely reviled speed cameras not only really do reduce accidents (by 20%),”

    That’s wrong for two reasons:

    a) the ‘speed camera scheme’ as it is known, accounts for only 20% of the overall drop of KSI rate, not 20% absolutely.

    b) Dr Mountain’s analysis did not account for ‘bias on selection’ – other safety measures implemented within the range of the speed camera site, but the credit for any apparent KSI drop always goes only to the camera. Camera sites can be defined to be up to 5km in length, so you would expect to see a few other safety measures in there too. Hence it is possible for cameras to be having a negative effect.

    I wouldn’t call taking money from those who are otherwise careful as ‘profit’, especially when the resource is used to fund further misallocation of ineffective resource.

    @ Nic,

    “sh!t you are spreading”

    Excuse me - you are accusing others of misinformation when we are only seeking to expose the misinformation spouted by those with the vested interests?

    Your simple argument of “slower speeds cause less fatalities” overlooks the probability of the accident being caused in the first place. Incorrect limits can increase the risk of an accident occurring in the first place (see my previous comment) – which kinda tends towards balancing things out. The errant pedestrians and cyclists would soon be more aware of the dangers if drivers were forced to drive at 70 in all areas at all times, so would fatalities soon reduce?

    PS, in over 10 years of holding my full UK licence, I have never faced being prosecuted for speeding!

  93. James
    Flame

    @Nic

    "Drive at 70 and relax. It's not a slow speed, you will get to your destination and you may even live longer."

    You do know that the 70 limit was set in the 60's and was chosen because that was the maximum speed of a popular car? Are you seriously going to suggest that a 1960's car being driven flat out is exactly as safe as a modern mid-range saloon which is loafing along at the same speed? A camera can't tell the difference, a real copper can. The motoring world has moved on, the law needs to update. Many modern vehicles can cruise easily and safely well above 70 where conditions allow.

    Let's step away from the inflated 12% (less than 1 in 8) fatal incidents attributed to speeding and concentrate on the nearly 100% we can attribute to human stupidity. Get real coppers to put the dangerously incompetent/stupid off the road and we can look forward to better safety from reducing that ignored 88% of non-speeding incidents with reduced congestion as a bonus.

    Finally, put "unskilled and unaware" into google, read the paper and think about how well that models drivers. The sheer number of people who are both unskilled to take charge of a potentially lethal tool and are unaware of the consequences of their lack of skill is terrifying. Speed, taken as always completely out of context, is not the problem. Incompetence and stupidity is.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @Did we hear someone mutter "hoisted by their own petard"?

    No, you won't, because the expression is "hoist by their own petard". Using "hoisted" is a schoolboy error that I wouldn't expect from El Reg.

  95. TimM

    @Nic

    "If your child was run over by someone speeding you would soon change your tune."

    Whilst yes this is a very tragic situation, it is also fairly rare. Those who do get run over are more likely to be run over by someone doing the correct speed, and likely because the child has run out between parked cars etc.

    The vast amount of speed controls around residential areas are based on FUD causing parents to kick up a big fuss based on a statistic which places just breathing air as being more dangerous than a child crossing the road! (and we don't ban breathing do we?).

    Not that I don't agree with reducing speed in residential areas just in case though, but speed cameras as a solution is the worst solution. It causes anger amongst drivers and they will often accelerate once past the camera as an act of defiance, or just see the camera as an annoyance.

    In the case of the child and the parked cars, there is a good/better solution there. Deal with the inappropriate parking of cars, or provide better parking solutions. Or, reduce the number of Chelsea Tractors and people can see better down the road. Likewise, stop these parking near schools where kids are more likely to be on the road.

    The best solution I have seen though is the electronic warning sign. A lot of these have sprung up around Surrey in the last year or two, and the impact is huge judging by the behaviour of drivers. Locally, not only do most people slow down on seeing them, but they remain at that speed also.

    However, the majority of accidents occur at junctions and on roads with sharp bends (regardless of speed) and most in my opinion are caused by lack of concentration and judgement.

    On my way to work, there is one very bendy road that causes a lot of accidents and claims numerous lives per year (just have to look at the amount of flowers on the trees!). The problem is with the road and a lack of driver education. I have seen a near accident on the same road and the driver was going well under the speed required for the road but somehow still managed to lose control. Likely was paying attention to the radio, his phone, etc, than the approaching bend. It also doesn't take much speed to be killed on impact with a solid tree.

    The best solution is to take the bends out of the road, or reduce them.

    Surprisingly though this road has never had a reduction in the speed limit from national limit, or speed cameras. Why? It's out in the sticks. Not next to someone's house where a hypothetical child can run out into the road and thus justifies a residential campaign to get speed controls. And yet the number of children run over in the area amounts to less than this one single road has claimed in lives over the last year!

  96. Gav
    Thumb Down

    Lazy journalist, or just stupid?

    "Just in case we hadn’t got the message, he added: "Nationally 13 per cent of all fatal casualties in 2007 were due to exceeding the speed limit." This figure is rather different from the one quoted by Peter Greenhalgh, the Tory councillor behind the idea, who said annual figures from the Department for Transport published in September showed just six per cent of collisions had been caused by people breaking speed limits."

    I gave up reading after this idiotic analysis. If you cannot follow what these figures mean, you shouldn't be writing articles about "fuzzy figures". Hint for you; one is measuring fatalities, the other is measuring collisions. These two things are not the same thing.

    And when did The Register become somewhere for heavy-footed petrol heads to moan about speed cameras?

  97. david wilson

    @Eduard Coli (Anything to get out of real police work)

    >>"Speed rules need some degree of tolerance and the cameras remove that."

    I thought they generally had some amount of tolerance built-in?

    Generally speaking, if, rather than cameras, there were actual police doing the speed checks (rather than doing the real police work you'd seemingly think they *should* be doing), they probably wouldn't accept many excuses if they stopped you.

    Do you think the tolerance should be just enough to cover how *you* drive, or do you have some other idea of an appropriate level to set the speed enforcement thresholds at?

    >>"Speed cameras a intrusive and repressive, they are obviously part of a hidden road tax"

    'intrusively hidden obviously' is a novel concept.

    Even if you look at speeding fines as a tax rather than the penalty they actually always have been, why *shouldn't* people who can't bring themselves to stay somewhere near the speed limits pay more to use the roads?

  98. Thomas Baker
    Thumb Down

    Residential streets.

    The thing for me that makes speed cameras a load of old haddock is that there aren't ANY on normal residential streets, you know the ones, where your kids live, old people, pets, normal people, etc. Every street I've ever lived in, people hoon up and down them, often past small schools and day-care centres, not a speed camera in sight. The little street where I work, people ping up there at 40 and 50 all de day long.

    but of course, get out onto a country road where there's feck-all danger of hitting anything other than a rabbit, (A34 anyone?), and all of a sudden it's imperative you do 30 or you're nicked me' old beauty. It's utter balls. It's not about safety, it absolutely can't be when you look at their choice of placement and distribution in any given town. Follow the money...

    So here's a question, if you can prove that you were somewhere else when the camera got your plate, (i.e. you're claiming someone must have cloned yours), do you get away with it? If so, let's start up www.speedingalibi.com whereby lots of people in the UK register and stand testimony once a year for some random other dude somewhere else in the country saying something like: "Mr Davies? Speeding in Renfrewshire on Saturday? Couldn't have been, he was with me watching the cricket!" Or somesuch. Or go one further and use CCTV in your home, at your work, shop, blah on any given day, change the date (which is often configurable), hey presto, alibi!

    Failing that, how about clear but smokey stickers that go over the lenses of the cameras. They'd take a sec to put in place, be unnoticeable until used and would fuck up any image making them useless. I've often thought about this, do your community a service and get a broom-stick with a little sucker on the end of it, get a clear but foggy sticker of roughly the same proportions as the camera lens and as you walk past the camera, quickly splodge it on. Job jobbed. I'll do my local ones if you want and you do yours. Come on chaps, Battle of Britain Spirit and all that!

  99. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    What? You think David Ainsworth is the only dishonest cop in England?

    Lying to the public is a universal police behavior.

  100. david wilson

    @AC

    >>"Some mentioned before that even according the inflated stats the speeding is only a factor in 13% of crashes."

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme5/excessivespeedcontributor.pdf

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme5/contributoryfactorstoroadacc.pdf

    >>"Excessive speed is one of 54 possible contributory factors. It was identified as

    contributing to 12 per cent of all accidents and 28 per cent of fatal accidents between

    1999 and 2002 where contributory factors were recorded. In the case of fatal

    accidents, excessive speed was the most frequently recorded factor."

    >>"Why are we not trying to figure out the other 87% and try preventing those."

    Of course! Why did no-one ever think of that before?

    The police should thinking about doing things like stopping people they see driving erratically who they think might be drunk or stoned, stopping people they see running red lights, pulling people over who are driving while doing distracting things, stopping vehicles that seem dangerously loaded or complete wrecks, and all kinds of other things that they simply never do at the moment.

  101. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Accidents can happen if you are not moving!

    @ Micky Posted Friday 24th October 2008 13:26 GMT, who kindly stated:

    " Both stats are wrong.

    Speed is a factor in 100% of ALL accidents...

    If nothings moving at all, then you cant have one."

    Unfortunately this is untrue. I was standing at a bus stop once and nearly had an accident. Luckily there was a pub nearby where I could use the toilets!

    /Ahem. Mine's the one with the emergency toilet roll in the pocket.

  102. MarkMac
    Flame

    @Nic again

    Doing 40 outside a school at 3.30pm is stupid, dangerous and should be punished.

    Doing 40 at 3.30 _am_ in the same location seems exceptionally unlikely to injure any children.

    And how many children are playing on the hard-shoulder of the M25, or on the Swindon ring-road, or on the verge of a country A-road at 2am?

    "child protection" is a cod argument, usually designed to force the other party into an emotionally untenable situation. For who can argue against protecting children? But its not about that, its about whether the speed is appropriate for the road and whether cameras are the right way to control it.

  103. Scott Wichall
    Flame

    @Paul McConkey

    [QUOTE]As the only self proclaimed bikers in these comments also appear to believe in speeding, it is clear that 100% of bikers are speed freak knobheads and that the simplest way to reduce speeding incidents in the UK will be to ban, with immediate effect, every motorbike. I challenge anyone to dispute my statistics.[/QUOTE]

    You Sir, are clearly a phallus of the worst variety. In other words, you are the knobhead.

    The challenge to your statistics is that 70% of motorcycle accidents are single vehicle. EG no one elses family is affected by a biker misjudging a bend or hitting a pothole/diesel etc.

    The other 30% of motorcycle accidents are caused by knobs, probably similar to youself who only spend 0.5 of a second looking to see if a road is clear before pulling out AKA "Sorry mate didn't see you"

    A simple fact for you is that although many bikers exceed speed limits, very few do it in built up residential areas like all the mums on school runs, chavs, bus drivers etc and they are also a damn sight more aware of whats going on around them, unlike CAGE drivers busy fiddling with the stereo/heating controls/mobile phone/twat nav.

    So what do you think of them apples?

  104. ShaggyDoggy

    @AC 12:40 GMT

    Only 3 ??

    Get real there's 3 just on the A420 approach to Swindon.

    All with covers on LOL

  105. Tim Ellis

    Braking distance

    I have always been of the opinion that braking distance should be regulated on dual carriage-ways and motor-ways, not speed. I believe this would not only lower casualties but make driving on these parts of the public highways more plesant.

  106. Cody

    Just stop complaining and obey the law!

    People who object to cameras fall into two categories, sometimes both.

    1) There are those who cannot manage to obey the speed limit for reasons of incapacity. These people should be got off the roads, the sooner the better. They are just as disabled as those with bad eyesight.

    2) There are those who are determined not to obey the limit. These people are just deliberate lawbreakers, no different really from those who commit other anti social and criminal acts like littering or graffitti or muggings. They too should be got off the roads, the sooner the better.

    Speed cameras are immensely valuable, not just because they save lives and reduce accidents, but because they enforce the law and get these idiots off the roads.

    If we don't want to enforce speed limits, do not have any. But we do want them, and so it is entirely reasonable and proper to enforce them, even if it makes no difference to accident rates.

    Personally, I enjoy driving in heavily camera infested areas. It is so much calmer and more relaxing as everyone becomes suddenly much more reasonable.

  107. david wilson

    @Scott Wichall

    You're so right.

    Personally, I draw a great deal of comfort from seeing people claiming to be bikers going on about how fast they ride.

    Since such people are rather more likely to have accidents than I am, it means I can look at bike accident statistics and realise that the risks to me are rather lower than a simple glance at the figures might suggest.

    I also rather appreciate that someone like that spends at least some time on two wheels, and not in a car, 4x4 or HGV.

    Personally, I wish *every* driver had to spend a year or two on a motorbike before getting a licence for anything else.

    They might learn a little more about things like traction, and looking out for hazards.

    It'd make them more likely to notice bikes even when they do get in a car, thinking "That could be me" or "That could be my kid".

    Most will get quite a lot of teenage rashness out of their system.

    Of the ones who don't learn quickly enough, they're rather less likely to injure anyone else, and aren't likely to take out 4 or 5 of their mates if they end up driving into a tree.

    When they do overcook things and have a smash, it's easy to brush the pieces to the side of the road so everyone else can get on with their journeys.

  108. Steve

    So many flawed arguments, so little time...

    I think people have missed the important point regarding the “x% of drivers involved in accidents were exceeding the limit”. Whatever the figure, it is a lot LOWER than the claimed reduction of KSIs at speed camera sites, that’s a bit strange considering ‘exceeding the speed limit’ is the only behaviour a speed camera can possibly change (apart from distraction, but that’s a negative effect); cameras also can’t change the behaviour of joyriders, those being chased by police, the unregistered etc, yet their moments are included in the x% figure - weren’t there 56 fatalities resulting from police chases last year? That’s nearly 2% of the whole total.

    So why the obvious discrepancy between the maximum effect the cameras can have, and the claimed effect they have? Simple, this is corroboration that the effectiveness of speed cameras is overstated (even when accounting for national trend and RTTM).

    @ david Wilson

    Excessive speed != exceeding the speed limit. In fact the latter is a subset of the former, the former also including driving too fast for the conditions (regardless of whether within the speed limit). Those with vested interests usually use the former term because it makes their work seem more important.

    @ Andrew Kemp

    Nowadays, limits are hard to keep to because many are being set unreasonably low.

    Very few drivers ‘race’ on the road; those who do are usually those cameras can’t touch (joyriders, the unregistered etc)

    “I personally wouldn't care if the statistics only showed that all the cameras only reduced road deaths by 1% “

    Right now, it cannot be proven camera sites result with a local ksi reduction of >0%, the figure could even be negative.

    However, that only applies to the camera site; have you examined the yearly national fatality trend (deaths per km driven). From 1950 to about 2000, the trend followed a definable exponential trend; after that it sharply levelled out and to this day remains steady even though the average car is getting safer, post crash care better, better road engineering etc. So what was it that has changed for the worse?

    @ frymaster

    “you break the law (by speeding) I don't see why you should complain about attempts to catch you”

    That’s because the decision to prosecute is based, not the behaviour itself, but instead merely on a proxy for behaviour; the proxy is a poor one given the numerous unreasonably low limits.

    @Gav

    “And when did The Register become somewhere for heavy-footed petrol heads to moan about speed cameras?”

    Probably at about the same time that El Reg became somewhere for car-hating lentil heads to moan about the freedom of personal choice (that’s not aimed at you BTW).

    Do you understand the difference between moaning and explaining how something is flawed? Here’s someone else who doesn’t:

    @ cody

    “Just stop complaining and obey the law!”

    Say the sheep!

    We should of course obey the law (assuming the law, or its application, is just), but there’s nothing to stop anyone from complaining, or in this case, explaining how damaging it is to road safety.

    There is a third option:

    c) The limit is unreasonably low. A rule that is applied in a nonsensical way does not command respect; rules that don’t command respect won’t get obeyed – isn’t this really obvious? The people who apply these rules should be removed form their positions, the sooner the better!

    “If we don't want to enforce speed limits, do not have any. But we do want them, and so it is entirely reasonable and proper to enforce them, even if it makes no difference to accident rates.”

    Ah, the very mentality which is poisoning UK economy – regulation for the sake of it.

    Of course we need to enforce limits, but first we need the limits set right; remember, this debate is about speed camera effectiveness, not speed limit setting or their enforcement.

    @ JonB

    “There needs to be a speed limit or it would be nigh on impossible to get out of awkward junctions.”

    Yet the Germans manage it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for an elimination of limits for any road; my comment merely poops on the reasoning you gave. Using the logic you gave, we could have speed limits of 60/70mph everywhere, even within built up areas.

    @ Paul McConkey

    “Speed limits are set to find a balance between convenience for the vehicle user and level of injury for the victim.”

    So it’s ok if we kill only 80% of people in a 40 limit? No. What the limit should give is a boundary of reasonably predictable behaviour for safe interaction with other road users. Reasonably expected speed should be the only guidance when setting speed limits; those who choose to drive at the 85th percentile, on a road with no speed limit, have been proven to be the safest drivers. Working outside this principle encourages unpredictable behaviour; unpredictable behaviour results with incorrect decisions from other road users.

    As ‘sanctimonious’ as it might seem, Yeah, Right’s comment isn’t wrong is it? It is really more effective to have safety policy be directed only at one group of road users? Why not invoke a jaywalking law? This is something I am against, but those calling for strict enforcement for the sake of safety must also call for a jaywalking law and enforcement of it; failure to do so would show them up to be irrational car haters!

    “There's a speed limit set by law, and the law must be enforced, cameras do this quite well.”

    No they don’t, in fact they do a pi55 poor job of it. Cameras can only govern those who are otherwise law abiding. Anyone who really wants to exceed the limit can do so with absolute impunity by means of improper documentation, tampering with their VRM, or plain old stealing a car; those who do are usually the most dangerous group of all, not just because they can drive as fast (and dangerous) as they like, but because chances are they’ve not had driving formal tuition, or at least haven’t formally demonstrated their ability to a satisfactory level.

    Active policing is the only enforcement method that can work.

    .

    Let’s get this clear: no-one wants chavs, boy racers and the like, screaming around estates, but the shift towards reliance upon speed cameras have allowed exactly this to happen. I’m convinced that if the beneficial effects of speed cameras weren’t wildly overstated (the exaggeration proven to be about a factor of at least 5.5 [source: table H7, Four Year Report] and the exaggeration is even higher for rural areas, and that’s even before accounting for ‘bias on selection’), we would instead have had a more effective road safety policy, perhaps involving proper traffic police who will immediately end any sort of bad driving from anyone; better yet, upon demonstrating video evidence of the dangerous offence in court they could RECOVER THEIR COSTS!!! What could be (could have been) better?

    This is why speed cameras cost lives!

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speed cameras causing accidents

    Some more evidence of authorities trying to hide the facts on speed cameras:

    Suppressed UK government study shows speed cameras increase accidents 31 percent on freeways, 55 percent in work zones

    http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/06/602.asp

    Even the BBC showed speed camera traps causing crashes, you can see the video here:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/bbc-speed-camera-crash-video-uncovered-finally/

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Turn the equation around

    So even if the quoted figures are correct and speed is a factor in 13% of Fatal accidents, this still means that 87% of fatal accidents involved drivers driving within the posted speed limits....

    Clearly focusing only speeding drivers is going to be of very little benefit in curbing road fatalities when the majority of road fatalities are not in fact caused by speeding drivers.

    Instead it's an easy way for the politicians to look like they are serious about road safety, and and easy way for the Police to raise revenue.

    Whats harder is tackling the real problem, that drivers themselves are the biggest factor in almost all accidents (fatal or otherwise) and then convincing the public that increased driver training, and regular driver re-testing is the best way to improve road safety.

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flawed Camera Placement

    You may remember a while ago that the government suspended the installation of speed cameras while enquiries took place into allegations that the placement of many cameras was in fact "illegal". Claims were made that some safety partneships had, shall we say, bent the rules on the installations of cameras. Given that the rules require that over a certain period of time a certain percentage of drivers have exceeded the speed limit by a certain amount and that there have been a certain number of accidents resulting in fatalities or serious injuries. Effectively the basis of these criteria was that cameras should only be placed where they would hopefully reduce the number of deaths or injuries.

    It was found that partnerships had indeed bent the rules, although IIRC they never said that any of the partnerships had actually falsified the figures. However it was decided that no action would be taken against those partnerships and that none of the cameras which had been placed on the back of incorrect figures would be removed on the grounds that they were still performing a useful function. However at the time it was decided that in order to try to stop this behaviour revenues from the cameras would not be given straight to the safety partnerships so that no allegations could be made that the partnerships were placing more and more cameras to make more and more money.

    If the cameras which had been placed in breach of the rules could not be said, by the goverments own rules, to be reducing the number of deaths or serious injuries how on earth were they allowed to stay? Surely the only function of these specific cameras could achieve is to raise money.

    But more importantly why were partnerships placing cameras at sites where the government's own rules said they should no be placed? The only possible reason I could see for this is that in those areas where these cameras were installed the safety partnerships had run out of legitimate sites. So surely the only reason for installing these extra cameras was to make money rather than to make money. I can't see how this can be argued against.

    At the time it was the case that 80% of the revenue raised from speed cameras was supposedly ploughed back into road safety. As such there should have been no need for the safety partnerships to spend any money on cameras at all, they should have been self funding and then some. If this were still the case then there would presumably be no need for Swindon council to spend a third of a million quid per year on cameras. And the cameras could remain.

    But here is the point of this long winded post: If safety partnerships are spending that much on three camera sites, then where on earth is all the revenue going? Are the treasury simply pocketing the money and giving nothing back to the safety partnerships?

  112. david wilson

    Cameras vs. police?

    There's no reason why having speed cameras prevents us from having more traffic police, especially if they are actually a tax, and therefore presumably generate a surplus.

    It's possible that some people in power might use cameras as an *excuse* not to prioritise and/or fund traffic policing, but even if so, if what one wants is more traffic police, whether someone who isn't providing them is using a particular excuse or not is only a secondary issue, the real issue is that they're not providing them.

    When it comes to statistics, looking at insurance premiums would at least seem to exclude much of the nutcase fringe of drivers, who won't have any.

    If insurance premiums do go up with speeding convictions, as they seem to, is that some kind of unfair extra 'tax', or is it based on real figures suggesting that people with points on their licence for speeding are more likely to have accidents, or likely to have nastier ones?

    Of course, it may be that speeding itself has little to do with any increased risk of accidents, and it's more that the kind of person likely to end up getting *caught* for speeding is also more likely to have accidents

  113. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I wish they would

    What would be nice would be a button in my car that says "MAX 30" which I could press in a 30 zone that stops my car from doing 31mph or above by accident. This way I can press it when in a restricted zone and know I don't have to spend so much time monitoring my inaccurate speedometer and spend greater amounts of the driving time watching out for your little kids who have not been taught that moving vehicles bloody hurt when the hit you!

    I don't know if you speed hating evangelists know this, but where there are inclines (also known as 'hills' down this way), cars decelerate and accelerate on their own due to them requiring more energy to allow them to climb, which is then given back by mother nature when one completes the incline - this strange behavior which is inflicted on my vehicle by mother nature (not of my doing I can assure you), occasionally causes my eyes to watch the speedometer more than they should. I do this so I can prevent my vehicle from exceeding the advertise speed limit for that particular highway.

    In doing this, I spend very little time watching out for your kids playing in the road I must admit. This is entirely due to speed detection cameras (safety cameras) that wish to punish me for mother nature affecting my vehicles speed. This is not of my doing, but is left to me to correct mother natures interference in my travels.

    Unfortunately for your kids, the fine and points levied on myself by the State are more important than your kid. Its a simple fact, and you need to get used to it.

    Furthermore, all the time there are speeding cameras monitoring my every move, I will avoid the fine/point penalty at the expense of your kids safety.

    This is exactly what these 'safety cameras' are designed for I believe (sometimes known as speed cameras).

    I am one of those that completely believes in speed restrictions on roads where pedestrians must cross, but I also believe that those roads that pedestrians are not allowed on should be entirely unrestricted from a speed perspective.

    The real truth is that speed does not kill. I know its hard to comprehend, but statistically it is true. An example, more pedestrians have their life terminated on a 30mph road than on the motorways. If we then add in the number of deaths (speeding or otherwise) of the occupants of vehicles, the same statement remains true. Speed is not the cause of death, the stopping distance and remaining in control is the cause of death in all cases. If the residential roads were as straight as the motorways, those unexpected events that always seem to happen (pedestrians crossing on a blind bend) would disappear and the death rate would plummet.

    The thing I must admit that really gets my goat with these friggin cameras is their costs versus the lives they save each year. If we removed the cameras and spent the same money on ...lets say cancer research, or diet education each year, just think of the lives we could save... they would be far more than the ~10 per day that cop it on our roads!

    I think our governments(not just the current bunch of monkeys, but their predecessors as well) are misguided with their life-saving spending.

    Elect me, I will sort this mess out for you. You should know, I WILL increase Personal Taxation, thats my election promise, and you will get to live longer (thats a good thing, I will get more tax from you in that time).

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Nic is too stupid to have a computer

    nic said: (Self involved commentards)

    "Those spouting the usual crap about why don't they catch real criminals, cash machines etc. sound completely idiotic and irresponsible.

    If your child was run over by someone speeding you would soon change your tune."

    for fuck's sake can't you think instead of this mindless "think of the children" platitude? you retard.

    if your children were run over, i'm sure it will be a consolation to you that the car was driven under the speed limit because there were speed cameras everywhere. because in that case, it couldnt have been the driver's fault, could it?

  115. david wilson

    @AC

    >>"What would be nice would be a button in my car that says "MAX 30" which I could press in a 30 zone that stops my car from doing 31mph or above by accident. This way I can press it when in a restricted zone and know I don't have to spend so much time monitoring my inaccurate speedometer"

    Speedometers shouldn't under-read your speed, and speed cameras are unlikely to trigger below 35-ish, so you generally needn't worry about keeping below 31.

    Indeed, since the fixed cameras are marked, if you kept your eyes on the road, you'd see them and only need to glance at the speedo if you saw one, if it was just cameras you were worried about.

    >>"In doing this, I spend very little time watching out for your kids playing in the road I must admit. This is entirely due to speed detection cameras"

    You could make exactly the same excuse but replace 'speed camera' with 'police'.

    If you can't keep track of your speed or whether you're accelerating going down hills *and* keep your eyes on the road, maybe you should get a car with more obvious feedback (engine noise, etc), or maybe driving's not your thing.

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rolling dice

    I often see this one, if you think the odds don't pan out to other numbers then I bet I could make a lot of money off you.

    Let's make it fair 4 - 6, 1 - 3. If you can roll a thousand times in the 4 -6 category then I will give you one thousand pounds, if though you roll a 1 - 3 in the those thousand rolls you give me a thousand, and to save time we will just stop at your first 1 - 3.

    We can do it for as long as you have money, and you like.

    By your reckoning you have an equal chance of rolling 4 - 6 then 1 - 3, so seems fair to me :)

    Look the chance of rolling 6 6 6 6 6 6 is not 1 in 6. Jeepers, what are they teaching these kids.

  117. Loki
    Joke

    Banannananas

    Quote: By this means, bad statistics could "prove" that locating bananas at crash sites would reduce the level of road deaths.

    In other news, Yorkshire county council have revealed plans to remove all speed cameras and replace them with bunches of bananas. A spokesperson for the council stated "Based on need to reduce the cost of operating speed cameras and on advice from our think tanks we believe bananas are the perfect low cost replacement."

  118. TeeCee Gold badge
    Coat

    @dervheid

    No, he's right. The older cameras used to take a pic of the rear of your vehicle, but the modern ones face the front. That way they get a piccy including the driver, which eliminates the "it wasn't me and I don't know who it was" defence.

    The side effect is that motorcyclists now only need to ram on at the sight of the old, film-based, cameras as long as you're riding something generic enough to prevent any detective work ruining the party.

    Mines the very plain and extremely ordinary leather jacket that looks just like thousands of others.

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @James : '60s cars...

    >Are you seriously going to suggest that a 1960's car being driven flat out is exactly

    >as safe as a modern mid-range saloon which is loafing along at the same speed?

    Yes, have you seen how empty motorways were in the '60s?

  120. Mark

    @david wilson

    Problem is that

    a) that leeway isn't real: the speed cameras need frequent recalibration and are inaccurate anyway, so you need that leeway to account for the camera being wrong.

    b) when someone is riding your tail, you can go faster and not notice until you look down. Your speed is then dependent on someone else's driving.

  121. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The way I see it

    Speed cameras do only address one aspect of driving, that of exceeding the speed limit. Why is that a bad thing?

    Although they cannot identify other transgressions they do not themselves increase those transgressions. Except people who madly brake when they see a camera regardless of what speed they are doing. The same people who think it is illegal to overtake a police car.

    Now, it may be that some police forces use cameras as a means to reduce other [road based] policing, but that is not the fault of the cameras, that is the fault of authority. Realistically cameras should at worst be personnel neutral and most likely free up police to address other offences.

    Some roads have unreasonable speed limits. This can be changed, many of the roads around where I live have been reclassified recently and more were classified up than down.

    Increased speed will make any impact worse, that is simple maths - the higher the initial speed (ie. when the child starts to run out etc.) the longer the stopping distance and therefore the higher the energy transfer in any impact. See F=MA, s=ut+0.5at^2

    13% of fatalities is one fuck lot of dead people, something like 400 per year in the UK. Surely that figure speaks for itself. Even 1% is 30 dead people and no-one believes it is that low.

    If you need to constantly look at your speedo to ensure you aren't breaking the limit then might I humbly suggest you should not be driving. Or get a car with cruise control.

  122. david wilson

    @Mark

    >>"a) that leeway isn't real: the speed cameras need frequent recalibration and are inaccurate anyway, so you need that leeway to account for the camera being wrong."

    Even allowing for a camera being at the worst end of the allowed +/-2% accuracy range, when the lowest limit for prosecution is generally 10%+2mph, that still leaves 10% leeway for the motorist, even assuming their speedo is bang on, rather than overreading a little like most speedos do.

    I'd assume if the fixed cameras were typically drifting wildly off calibration, there'd be more successful challenges.

    I understood that Gatsos were generally only calibrated annually.

    However, if accuracy was the issue, people complaining about cameras would be asking for more accurate ones. Instead, it seems that accuracy is used as an argument by people who wouldn't want cameras however accurate they were.

    >>"b) when someone is riding your tail, you can go faster and not notice until you look down. Your speed is then dependent on someone else's driving."

    You decide your *forward* speed by what you see in your rear view mirror?

    You can't do that if there's anything in front of you, and if there's nothing in front of you, maybe you'd be better off just letting someone pass you than feeling obliged to speed up.

  123. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Speeding = Death? Its not that simple.

    A couple of years ago I was doing work related to a large vehicle fleet and had all the relevant statistics to hand. Analysis showed that, although accidents were worse the higher the impact speed, by far the most significant cause of fatal and serious accidents was people (often lorry drivers) falling asleep at the wheel. These often allow their speed to creep up as they drift off and don't usually hit the brakes before impact, and the crashes end up in the published figures as fatalities due to speed.

    Another chunk of the high speed crashes was due to criminal activity, e.g. joyriding, police pursuits, etc.

    Very few of the serious accidents where speeding was believed to have been the cause were due to people simply driving a bit above the speed limit but otherwise driving in a safe manner.

    Also interesting was that there are a handful of fatal and serious accidents every year where the motor vehicle involved is stationary, usually due to incompetent cyclists riding into them or to drunks climbing on top of them and falling off.

  124. Callum Winton
    Thumb Down

    It's all Bollox

    If cameras were really there for safety measures, then why isn't there one outside every school in the UK?

    CW

  125. Steve

    @ david wilson

    “There's no reason why having speed cameras prevents us from having more traffic police, especially if they are actually a tax, and therefore presumably generate a surplus.”

    Yes, there is no REAL reason, but that was the outcome, we’re losing trafpol when we should have been gaining them.

    One should understand how that shift occurred when one group generates a surplus and the other sucks out more than that surplus, and the effectiveness of the one that generates the surplus is wildly over-exaggerated.

    “if what one wants is more traffic police, whether someone who isn't providing them is using a particular excuse or not is only a secondary issue, the real issue is that they're not providing them.”

    No. A decision has to have been made not to provide them; hence the real issue is the factors that were driving the decision not to provide them, factors such as perceived effectiveness of other measures.

    “When it comes to statistics, looking at insurance premiums would at least seem to exclude much of the nutcase fringe of drivers, who won't have any.”

    Of course, but nutcase drivers are still on the road (in ever greater numbers) so presenting an elevated risk to all other drivers regardless of how safe they try to be.

    “If insurance premiums do go up with speeding convictions, as they seem to, is that some kind of unfair extra 'tax',”

    No. The insurance companies are businesses; they do what they can to maximise profits. They’ll use any excuse to rack up premiums, such as ‘speed kills’.

  126. peter
    Stop

    I would be convinced if........

    A road near me was unrestricted, but an old man was killed where a public footpath crosses it.. Action was taken, the speed limit was reduced to 40 and cameras were erected.

    Of course I would be a bit more convinced if:

    a. It was not a dead straight road with proper pavements, surrounded by fields with no houses anywhere in sight.

    b. I did not know that the old man was killed 'cos he stepped out in front of a bicycle.

    c. the cameras were actually erected somewhere near where the old man was killed i.e. where the footpath crosses.

    More odd was the pavement with no houses anywhere near. However the council made full use of it to further improve safety and painted a road down the middle of the pavement converting it into an instant cycle path.

    Think about that one. The only death on this road was when a bicycle came into contact with a pedestrian, and the council 'improved safety' by letting byicycles ride on the pavement.

  127. david wilson

    @Steve

    >>"No. A decision has to have been made not to provide them; hence the real issue is the factors that were driving the decision not to provide them, factors such as perceived effectiveness of other measures."

    If the drop is, as it would seem to be, down to a lack or prioritising traffic policing over other types of policing, that seems rather more likely to be down to priorities being set at what the government perceives as being driven by public demand, or at least newspaper interest - such as violent crime, etc

    >>"No. The insurance companies are businesses; they do what they can to maximise profits. They’ll use any excuse to rack up premiums, such as ‘speed kills’."

    So they're all conspiring together and deciding premiums in a way unrelated to the actuarial risk, with no-one tempted to break ranks and mop up some easy business?

    There either is a positive correlation between having speeding convictions and an increased risk of future accident or there isn't.

    Either way, it'd be interesting to know what the figures really are.

  128. Mark
    Thumb Down

    @david wilson

    > You decide your *forward* speed by what you see in your rear view mirror?

    No, your forward speed can be overlooked because

    a) You're distracted.

    b) Unless you check, the difference in 25mph and 35mph is most noticeable when other traffic is going at one speed or the other

    That's why coming off the motorway can be disorienting to begin with: you seem to be going pretty slow, but those corners are coming up quick! You're "used" to 70mph. And 50mph feels like 30 if you don't look at the speedometer.

  129. Mark
    Thumb Down

    @david wilson

    > You decide your *forward* speed by what you see in your rear view mirror?

    No, your forward speed can be overlooked because

    a) You're distracted.

    b) Unless you check, the difference in 25mph and 35mph is most noticeable when other traffic is going at one speed or the other

    That's why coming off the motorway can be disorienting to begin with: you seem to be going pretty slow, but those corners are coming up quick! You're "used" to 70mph. And 50mph feels like 30 if you don't look at the speedometer.

    PS:

    >I'd assume if the fixed cameras were typically drifting wildly off calibration, there'd be more successful challenges.

    But you can't GET the calibration information. A few people have managed it by getting an expensive lawyer to get the police to turn it up. And it's not something that the pro-cam camp want known about.

  130. Steve

    @ david wilson

    “If the drop is, as it would seem to be, down to a lack or prioritising traffic policing over other types of policing, that seems rather more likely to be down to priorities being set at what the government perceives as being driven by public demand, or at least newspaper interest - such as violent crime, etc”

    That only serves to prove my point doesn’t it! Public demand, or whatever else is driving the priorities, has been wrong-footed by the fanciful claims coming from the PR staff of the partnerships. Even public demand would have been significantly different if the effectiveness of cameras were not wildly overstated.

    Do you really think the pro-camera lobby would have been so vocal in their support for cameras if their effectiveness were reported as “speed cameras reduce casualties by less than 10% (much less when accounting for the illusion of ‘bias on selection’)” instead of the current “Casualty reduction at camera sites [is] a national average of 42%.” [luton.gov.uk], some sites reporting a reduction of as much as 72% (of course, the higher reduction sites will feature more often in the media than the mediocre ones).

    “So they're all conspiring together and deciding premiums in a way unrelated to the actuarial risk, with no-one tempted to break ranks and mop up some easy business?”

    Oh please, they don’t need to conspire. Once one does it, all will have to follow suit in order to compete; hence the one that did it first will initially rake it in but then will eventually lose out when the customer base re-disperses when the others match. See the fuel price wars for example! This is really obvious business practice.

    “There either is a positive correlation between having speeding convictions and an increased risk of future accident or there isn't.

    Either way, it'd be interesting to know what the figures really are.”

    It's not as simple as that in the real world, crash risk with speed is well known to follow a U shaped curve (the minima skewed towards higher speed)..

    We know the safest drivers are those who would choose to drive at the 85th percentile speed (without a limit in place); indeed the slowest (and fastest) drivers suffer a greatly increased crash rate (6 times more) - even when excluding the input from the lower speed turning accidents.

    Hence it follows that setting limits to anything less than 80th percentile speeds would see the safest drivers with disproportionately higher than average convictions. I’m sure we can all think of many enforced roads which fall into that category.

    No-one would have given a damn about speed cameras if the limits were set appropriately; but many aren’t thanks to the overstated claims of ‘speed’ within accident rates and spun KSI falls at speed control (camera) sites.

  131. david wilson

    @Mark

    >>"No, your forward speed can be overlooked because

    >>"a) You're distracted.

    >>b) Unless you check, the difference in 25mph and 35mph is most noticeable when other traffic is going at one speed or the other

    But you were talking about your speed being dictated by people *following* you, to the extent you might not have much idea what speed you were going at.

    Looking at other traffic isn't *that* much of a guide unless you know what speed they're going at

  132. david wilson

    @Mark

    >>"That only serves to prove my point doesn’t it! Public demand, or whatever else is driving the priorities, has been wrong-footed by the fanciful claims coming from the PR staff of the partnerships. Even public demand would have been significantly different if the effectiveness of cameras were not wildly overstated."

    I think there's a bigger picture. When it comes to policing, traffic policing has never been much of a vote winner. I doubt that speed cameras have changed that to any great extent, it's more a case of priorities for policing being set based on [perceived] public concerns that have nothing to do with speed cameras *or* traffic police.

    It'd make more sense to blame the government for trying to pander too much to public/media opinion, and not doing what governments should do, which is try and look at things sensibly and do some things that are right even if they're not obvious vote-winners.

    I'd suspect that many of the papers with a definite dislike of speed cameras would be the same ones arguing for more attention to non-traffic areas of policing, and if the issue of traffic police numbers was raised, might not have much of an opinion, unless they saw the issue as one which they could pick up briefly to attack the government with.

    The real problem seems to be that there are so many people arguing against cameras basically because they want to drive however they feel like driving that that does tend to swamp out more reasoned arguments of people actually concerned about road safety.

    >>"Oh please, they don’t need to conspire. Once one does it, all will have to follow suit in order to compete; hence the one that did it first will initially rake it in but then will eventually lose out when the customer base re-disperses when the others match. See the fuel price wars for example! This is really obvious business practice."

    Whether or not that could happen, it still doesn't affect the basic question of whether people with speeding convictions are more or less likely than the average driver to be in a serious accident.

    That's what I'd be interested to know, *however* the figures fall.

    >>"We know the safest drivers are those who would choose to drive at the 85th percentile speed (without a limit in place); "

    >>"Hence it follows that setting limits to anything less than 80th percentile speeds would see the safest drivers with disproportionately higher than average convictions. I’m sure we can all think of many enforced roads which fall into that category."

    Taking your figures as read, that's still completely illogical.

    It assumes that if you had an unrestricted road and put a limit on it, whatever the limit was, everyone would drive exactly as they had done before, when in fact a great many people wouldn't, even without the prospect of likely enforcement.

    Take your safe driver, and put them back on the same road after a limit is in place, and tell them that the limit doesn't apply to them, and see if their new speed is the same as before. Unless the road is empty, or a dual carriageway with little traffic, they'd probably end up driving slower even without the threat of prosecution, simply from the speed of the other traffic, since the distribution of everyone else's speed will affect what speeds seem safe.

    Even in the unrestricted example, it's obviously not that the 85th percentile speed is *the* safest speed *for the road*, but that the people who choose to drive at that speed when the road is unrestricted tend to have least accidents.

    It could still be that even on the unrestricted road, they'd have less accidents if *they* drove slower, because they happen to be a generally better driver (or in an easier-to-control vehicle) than the people who would naturally choose a slower speed.

  133. Steve

    @ David Wilson

    “I think there's a bigger picture. When it comes to policing, traffic policing has never been much of a vote winner.”

    That might be correct, but now it is a vote winner when compared to automated enforcement of merely proxy, a poor proxy of one characteristic of driving, of which a determined offender can and would persistently evade?

    Trafpol is a vote winner at Safespeed.

    “It'd make more sense to blame the government…”

    There is an amount of truth in that. Yes the government is partly to blame, not because they were hoodwinked by the technology suppliers, but because they play Dumbo and continue to accept the false claims from the camera partnerships and plough on with their policy simply to save face. However, make no mistake, the camera partnerships are more to blame because they continue to knowingly spin their lies.

    Do you really think the pro-camera lobby would have been so vocal in their support for cameras if their effectiveness were reported as “speed cameras reduce casualties by less than 10% (much less when accounting for the illusion of ‘bias on selection’)” instead of the current “Casualty reduction at camera sites [is] a national average of 42%.” (with the ‘better’ ones more likely to be pushed into the media spotlight) ???

    Do you agree that the claims of speed camera effectiveness is greatly exaggerated? (exaggerated by at least a factor of 5)

    If so, do you agree that if the claims of speed camera effectiveness was not exaggerated, we could instead have had a different, and perhaps a more effective, road safety policy?

    “I'd suspect that many of the papers with a definite dislike of speed cameras would be the same ones arguing for more attention to non-traffic areas of policing”

    There’s nothing wrong or illogical with that. I reckon we would have had the best of both worlds if people know all facts, so resulting with more police in general, instead of this shift from trafpol.

    “The real problem seems to be that there are so many people arguing against cameras basically because they want to drive however they feel like driving that that does tend to swamp out more reasoned arguments of people actually concerned about road safety.”

    That may be, but Safespeed.org.uk is concerned about road safety; those who want to drive as they like won’t like what Safespeed campaigns for. The importance of speed limits is given within the campaign manifesto, and it is repeated throughout the campaign pages that it “welcome [s] properly set speed limits, and welcome speed limit enforcement when speed limits are exceeded in a way that causes danger. “ – that’s right, Safespeed calls for speed limits and their enforcement!

    As I said in an earlier comment, “no-one wants chavs, boy racers and the like, screaming around estates”; an alternative I proposed earlier would eliminate these and more, without additional financial burden, so making our roads a more pleasant place to be for ALL road users.

    “Whether or not that could happen, it still doesn't affect the basic question of whether people with speeding convictions are more or less likely than the average driver to be in a serious accident.”

    But it DID answer a question you posed, as well as answering yours regarding the “unfair extra 'tax'”. As you can see, raising premiums with SP points makes good financial business sense to the insurance companies.

    “Taking your figures as read, that's still completely illogical.

    It assumes that if you had an unrestricted road and put a limit on it, whatever the limit was, everyone would drive exactly as they had done before, ….”

    No such assumption is made or necessary; in fact I disagree with your statement – we can see that most drivers do indeed slow down when limits are ratcheted down. Likewise, we can expect drivers to go faster if a limit, which has been set too low, is removed.

    It has been widely accepted that the 85th percentile is one of, if not the most important factor to consider when setting speed limits – and with good reason, it gives the best correlation to reasonably expected behaviour (as well as putting a reasonable limit on the nutcases); make it too low and disproportionately more drivers will behave unpredictably - and by a greater deviation.

    “since the distribution of everyone else's speed will affect what speeds seem safe.”

    I reckon there is an element of truth in that, but it isn’t a complete factor because there’ll be roads, and times, where there won’t be enough traffic density for a driver to see what everyone else’s speeds are. Of course, having an unnecessarily low limit will skew that perception.

    “It could still be that even on the unrestricted road, they'd have less accidents if *they* drove slower, because they happen to be a generally better driver (or in an easier-to-control vehicle) than the people who would naturally choose a slower speed.”

    Possibly - if they chose to. Also, it could be that they would have more accidents if they were forced outside their envelope of natural behaviour, resulting with frustration and elevated risk unpredictability and hence poor manoeuvres. Furthermore, one third of all motorway accidents are sleep/fatigue related, so it is right to hit drivers with the double whammy of: forcing them to go slower than an optimum, so requiring them to spend more time on the road, whilst driving in a less stimulated condition – therefore making them disproportionately more tired?

    Ps: I’m not Mark ;c)

  134. david wilson

    @Steve

    >>"No such assumption is made or necessary; in fact I disagree with your statement – we can see that most drivers do indeed slow down when limits are ratcheted down. Likewise, we can expect drivers to go faster if a limit, which has been set too low, is removed."

    But you're completely missing the point I was making about being illogical.

    You said that on an unrestricted road, the drivers around the 85th percentile had least accidents, and you also claimed that if speed limits were introduced that were lower than the speed those drivers would drive at on an unrestricted road, they'd end up with a disproportionate number of speeding convictions, but that would only be true if they completely ignored the limits, which they wouldn't do.

    >>"Also, it could be that they would have more accidents if they were forced outside their envelope of natural behaviour, resulting with frustration and elevated risk unpredictability and hence poor manoeuvres."

    That's certainly possible. I'm sure there are potential confounding factors in all directions.

    However, the only point I was trying to make is that it isn't that there's some magical optimum 'safest' speed for a road that can be divined by looking at how people drive when there's no limit.

    In fact, if a limit is being set on safety grounds, it's the effect that different possible limits might have on the *overall* accident rate that should be important in selecting the limit, and it may be that the speed the safest drivers would otherwise drive at isn't the best guide, even if it might be a useful starting point.

  135. Steve

    @ David Wilson

    “But you're completely missing the point I was making about being illogical.

    You said that on an unrestricted road, the drivers around the 85th percentile had least accidents, and you also claimed that if speed limits were introduced that were lower than the speed those drivers would drive at on an unrestricted road, they'd end up with a disproportionate number of speeding convictions, but that would only be true if they completely ignored the limits, which they wouldn't do.”

    The world isn’t as black and white as the speed camera proponents say it is. There will be a distribution of drivers who will abide by the limit, accidentally exceed it, and choose to exceed it; the ratios will depend on the reasonableness of the set limit. It is fairly obvious that the great majority will slow down when a lower limit is put in place (no-one intentionally sets out to act illegally), but if the limit is lower than a reasonable level then you can expect a few to exceed it – not everyone but a small portion every now and again. You seem to be incorrectly asserting that I assume that everyone will always ignore the limit.

    Spelling it out in case you still don’t get it: if a limit is lowered to, say the 75th percentile, THE STATISTICAL FEW who, for whatever reason, continue to travel at the 85th% speed will be at risk of prosecution. Conversely, those who continue at the 75th% (and those slower) will be safe from prosecution, even though they are at greater risk of being involved in an accident.

    I should also point out that those who travel at speeds very high up on the percentile curve are likely to have taken precautions to evade detection by automated enforcement – the most dangerous drivers get disproportionately fewer convictions.

    “However, the only point I was trying to make is that it isn't that there's some magical optimum 'safest' speed for a road that can be divined by looking at how people drive when there's no limit.”

    How can you say that? If drivers are forewarned of all the potential hazards (via adequate signage for example) then it is a pretty good starting point. Drivers tend to drive in a manner which avoids the risk of collisions (except for the nutcases); no-one wants to risk dinging their car, let alone risk being injured or killed! If you’re going to tell me that motorists who know of the hazards aren’t able to determine a safe speed for themselves for the majority (>90%) of the time (this is valid even if 100% of drivers have ‘moments’), or simply do not want to drive to it, then we can end this part of the debate now by agreeing to disagree.

    “In fact, if a limit is being set on safety grounds, it's the effect that different possible limits might have on the *overall* accident rate that should be important in selecting the limit, and it may be that the speed the safest drivers would otherwise drive at isn't the best guide, …”

    Then again, it may just be; right now it’s the best we have. Today’s studies are greatly skewed by the erroneous claims of effectiveness of speed control, usually by those who benefit from it. This conveniently brings me back to the questions that you have seemed to have skipped over (which are much more relevant to this thread):

    Do you really think the pro-camera lobby would have been so vocal in their support for cameras if their effectiveness were reported as “speed cameras reduce casualties by less than 10% (much less when accounting for the illusion of ‘bias on selection’)” instead of the current “Casualty reduction at camera sites [is] a national average of 42%.” (with the ‘better’ ones more likely to be pushed into the media spotlight) ???

    Do you agree that the claims of speed camera effectiveness is greatly exaggerated? (exaggerated by at least a factor of 5) [please read the Four Year Report if need be]

    If so, do you agree that if the claims of speed camera effectiveness were not exaggerated, we could instead have had a different, and perhaps a more effective, road safety policy?

  136. david wilson

    @Steve

    >>"You seem to be incorrectly asserting that I assume that everyone will always ignore the limit."

    Because that's precisely what you were doing, by saying that if a limit was set such that the limit+threshold was at all below the speed some people would drive if there wasn't a limit, those people would end up with speeding convictions.

    Now, it's obvious that people already driving below a limit aren't likely to get caught by it, but of the people who would drive faster than the limit on an unrestricted road, I'd wonder if the 'safe' drivers might be rather more likely to drop their speed a fraction and avoid speeding convictions than the fastest 'dangerous' drivers would be to drop their speed a lot.

    If there was someone who would normally drive at 75mph on an unrestricted road, surely it wouldn't be at all hard to drop to ~68 when a 60 limit came in? In fact, if a person got wound up to the point of distraction by not being able to go precisely as fast as they wanted, I'd wonder how likely it would be that they're actually one of the safe drivers, rather than one of the larger number of drivers who *think* they're safe.

    However annoying it may be for the 'safe' driver, the limits are actually there for the benefit of everyone, not just to annoy them.

    As I said, what seems to be a safe speed for the best drivers to drive at *might* be a useful starting point when considering limits, since it does at least indicate silly speeds for an empty road, though it doesn't really require some kind of survey of speed distributions to find that out, just a few sensible drivers to drive on the road when it's empty.

    However, if the limit is there for safety reasons, it's the effect of various limits on the people likely to have accidents which seem much more relevant.

    I assume there'd be a significant divide between single and multiple-carriageway roads in terms of what effect limits have on accidents, possibly to the extent that they need treating entirely differently, with figures from one not much applicable to the other?

    >>"Do you really think the pro-camera lobby would have been so vocal in their support for cameras if their effectiveness were reported as “speed cameras reduce casualties by less than 10%"

    I don't know what motivates other people - some may believe the most optimistic figures, some may think *any* reduction in casualties is worth the cost, some may be fixated on speed to the extent that they think it's the only thing worth bothering about, some may have some personal history that influences their judgement, some may have some other personal interest.

    >>"Do you agree that the claims of speed camera effectiveness is greatly exaggerated?

    (exaggerated by at least a factor of 5) [please read the Four Year Report if need be]"

    It's certainly true that some people pick up on and promote the larger figures, though how much of that is down to people bending the truth for their own ends, and how much down to journalists snatching the first figure they hear, and then people regurgitating what they read, I wouldn't know.

    Looking at tables H7 and H8, It's not immediately obvious why the figures in them for the scheme effect are so different - if the EB method in H8 works and the RTM effects in H7 are calculated correctly, the figures would possibly be closer.

    Possibly that's down to the EB method not being perfect, or to RTM being overestimated (as discussed on page 58)

    Is the FSC reduction for both fixed and mobiles really around 10%, or around 19%, or somewhere else? Without knowing that, it'd be hard to say whether there was a factor of five, or less than three.

    Also, bear in mind those figures were from a subset of cameras, in urban areas, and typically 30mph roads. How much of a guide that is to cameras generally, I wouldn't pretend to know.

    Results on faster roads could be better or worse, possibly by a large margin, not least since the types and severities of accidents on faster roads are likely to be rather different from those on urban roads.

    >>"do you agree that if the claims of speed camera effectiveness were not exaggerated, we could instead have had a different, and perhaps a more effective, road safety policy?"

    I agree that we could do better than we are doing, but we could have done better than we did before we had any cameras.

    Just as some people might use cameras as an excuse to not do anything else (perceiving that there's not widespread public demand for doing anything that costs significant money?), other people might blame cameras for everything that isn't happening, as if all cameras disappearing overnight would return us to some golden age where all the right things were done.

  137. Steve

    @ David Wilson

    “Because that's precisely what you were doing, by saying that if a limit was set such that the limit+threshold was at all below the speed some people would drive if there wasn't a limit, those people would end up with speeding convictions.”

    Are you having a laugh? “not everyone but a small portion every now and again” is not nearly the same as “everyone will always ignore the limit”. The really silly thing is that this subdebate is irrelevant; some, everyone – the end result is the same.

    If the limit is set to the 70% percentile, those who suffer the least accidents (the 85th percentile) would be at risk of being caught (regardless of what portion continues on at their original speed); we know some will continue on by virtue that drivers are being caught out today, but obviously not all are otherwise a great portion of the driving population (>15%) would be banned via totting up very, very quickly. Those slowest can’t get caught even though they suffer the greatest risk of an accident; that risk is equalled by those who drive the fastest but they are most likely group to have taken steps to evade detection/capture.

    Given the current state of speed limits, logic dictates that there is a positive correlation between those who have a reduced risk of accident and their number of speeding convictions.

    “However annoying it may be for the 'safe' driver, the limits are actually there for the benefit of everyone, not just to annoy them.”

    Of course! I’ve already explained why we need speed limits and why drivers should abide by them (with enforcement if necessary), the problem is how the limits are set; no limit is annoying when set reasonably.

    “it doesn't really require some kind of survey of speed distributions to find that out, just a few sensible drivers to drive on the road when it's empty.”

    Now if I might try to define sensible drivers: those with the minimal risk of having an accident ;c)

    “However, if the limit is there for safety reasons, it's the effect of various limits on the people likely to have accidents which seem much more relevant.”

    I agree, it is much better to set limits reasonably instead of encouraging drivers to have disrespect for the law so creating nutcases and increasingly deviant behaviour.

    “I don't know what motivates other people - some may believe the most optimistic figures, some may think *any* reduction in casualties is worth the cost, some may be fixated on speed to the extent that they think it's the only thing worth bothering about, some may have some personal history that influences their judgement, some may have some other personal interest.”

    I want an answer in terms of ‘in general’, not mere sophistry.

    Do you really think the pro-camera lobby would have been so vocal in their support for cameras if their effectiveness were stated as being LESS THAN 20% of that claimed today?

    “Looking at tables H7 and H8, It's not immediately obvious why the figures in them for the scheme effect are so different - if the EB method in H8 works and the RTM effects in H7 are calculated correctly, the figures would possibly be closer.”

    Table H7 gives the absolute drops (percentage changes in FSCs); H8 gives relative portions of the drops (relative to what would have been expected had the camera not been installed); for example, for a 50% reduction of KSI at a site, a 10% absolute drop would translate to a 20% portion of the drop. Now that you understand, you can now answer my question.

    Do you agree that the claims of speed camera effectiveness is greatly exaggerated? (by at least a factor of 5)[let’s not forget that even the report with its RTTM analysis does not factor in the effect of ‘bias on selection’, itself greatly significant]

    “Also, bear in mind those figures were from a subset of cameras, in urban areas, and typically 30mph roads. How much of a guide that is to cameras generally, I wouldn't pretend to know.

    Results on faster roads could be better or worse, possibly by a large margin, not least since the types and severities of accidents on faster roads are likely to be rather different from those on urban roads.”

    This is described in the appendix. Initial analysis for rural roads found the RTTM error to be higher than that for urban roads (the reasoning is given in the appendix and is logical given the greater dispersal of the geographically and temporally random nature of the events), but the full analysis was never done; the report gives a reason as to why it wasn’t, but I can think of more realistic influences given the fact it would make cameras look even worse...

    “I agree that we could do better than we are doing, but we could have done better than we did before we had any cameras.”

    More sophistry! In terms of annual fatalities against total distance travelled, would you not agree that we should be doing better than we have been for the past 8 years?

    We couldn’t have done much better than we did before we had camera partnerships. For the 50 years prior to their reign, we have a definable and quite enviable downward trend of the national fatality rate (per unit distance travelled). Since then the trend has levelled out and has remained steady to this day. We were doing well in the past, but now we’ve stalled, even though we still have the same ongoing rate of improvement of vehicle safety, road engineering, post crash care etc - for some reason we’ve lost our well-established long-term downward trend; something really bad must be happening to compensate for the positive effects of the ongoing improvements. This loss could be directly due to the cameras, or it could be directly due to the lack of traf-pol, but the latter being a result of the former; either way something has gone very wrong - the speed camera policy is the only significant shift we’ve had in that timeframe.

    “... as if all cameras disappearing overnight would return us to some golden age where all the right things were done.”

    Of course not! The key thing here is that we’ve lost trafpol as cameras became popular, so now simply removing the cameras would result with more nutcase drivers than remaining if the traf-pol number remained static. Safespeed has always called for more trafpol. Remember, I have already proposed a simple extension to this which everyone (except nutcases) should be able to agree with, one which also wouldn’t be a financial burden. Given this, I wonder about the neutrality of those who continue to claim the current speed camera policy was a good idea. (PS, I’m not an officer or a traffic operative and I have no plans to be one).

  138. david wilson

    @Steve

    With the whole 85th percentile thing, I think there's room for confusion, thinking that there's some magical 'optimum speed' for a road is the speed the 85th percentile driver would drive at.

    Even if a driver driving at the 85th percentile speed on an unregulated road has the least accidents, that can easily be substantially due to their relative position in the speed distribution, rather than their absolute speed.

    They're less likely to be hit from behind than a slow driver. They don't have the danger of being the fastest vehicle on the road. They're probably not in a slow or awkward vehicle. They're probably not a desperately nervous driver, etc

    All those factors still apply even when there is a limit, and a naturally safe driver could easily choose to drive at a 'safe' position in the new speed distribution. The distribution shape will change due to the effect of the speed limit, but there will still be some speeds that are/feel safer than others, likely slower than before, and one would hope that those speeds are generally unlikely to attract a ticket.

    Someone who felt impelled to carry on at the speed they would do if there wasn't a limit even when other drivers slowed down *and* who wasn't capable of noticing cameras seems a fairly unlikely candidate for 'best driver on the road'.

    >>"Table H7 gives the absolute drops (percentage changes in FSCs); H8 gives relative portions of the drops (relative to what would have been expected had the camera not been installed); for example, for a 50% reduction of KSI at a site, a 10% absolute drop would translate to a 20% portion of the drop. Now that you understand, you can now answer my question."

    Thanks for clearing that up - I've got as bit of a flu brain at the moment.

    Actually, I honestly think many people would probably look on the H8 figures as more intuitively useful.

    If you're talking percentages, it makes much more sense to calculate the value of a camera relative to what [you estimate] would have happened if it hadn't been there, rather than relative to the past, and that approach gives fixed cameras a 23.5% reduction in FSCs and mobile cameras 17.6%

    But even taking the figures from H7, it's clear that there's a great difference between fixed and mobile cameras. Looking at fixed cameras, the difference between corrected and uncorrected figures is a factor of under 3, and looking at the mobiles, it's about a factor of 6.

    In fact, if you're really looking at *public perception*, if someone announced the accident rate at fixed camera sites fell by 45% (from H7), and didn't make any clarification, I think most people would think of that as 'compared to if nothing had been done'. For that person, the 23.5% figure (from H8) would best fit what they were thinking.

    It would still mean that there was an exaggeration, which isn't good, but one of just under 2:1 rather than over 5:1.

    For mobile cameras, the equivalent factor would be just over 3:1

    So, no, I don't think the many people *are* being misled by a factor of more than 5 about effectiveness, even when uncorrected figures are stated or subsequently reported without clarification. However, that's not to say smaller exaggerations or misreportings are good.

    And as I said, *I don't know* what other people base their decisions on, except they're likely not the same things with the same weightings that I'd choose.

    It's perfectly possible for someone to read the whole report and conclude that cameras are worth having, and presumably at least some people at the camera partnerships will have done that. For someone not set against cameras on principle, the report doesn't seem particularly likely to change their mind.

    Anyway, I'm now off for a few days, and comments may well have closed by the time I get back.

  139. Steve

    @ david wilson

    “Even if a driver driving at the 85th percentile speed on an unregulated road has the least accidents, that can easily be substantially due to their relative position in the speed distribution, rather than their absolute speed.”

    That was an arbitrary thing to say, seems like you’re now clutching at straws. It of course far more likely they have fewer accidents because they are better drivers – afterall, they must be great if they can go faster than average whilst having fewer accidents than average.

    “They're less likely to be hit from behind than a slow driver. They don't have the danger of being the fastest vehicle on the road. They're probably not in a slow or awkward vehicle. They're probably not a desperately nervous driver, etc”

    They’re more likely to be cut up by a slow driver. They don’t have the danger of being the slowest vehicle on the road. Slow drivers probably aren’t in slow or awkward vehicles (practically all unlimited vehicles can exceed speed limits).

    What I did there was to give inverted claims; this proves the factors you gave are logically redundant. The last one would support my point anyway.

    “…likely slower than before, and one would hope that those speeds are generally unlikely to attract a ticket.”

    “Hope”? Or, like I already explained, a reasonably set limit would also result with less tickets being issued (especially to those with the lowest accident risk), as well as reducing the amount of deviant driving.

    “Someone who felt impelled to carry on at the speed they would do if there wasn't a limit even when other drivers slowed down *and* who wasn't capable of noticing cameras seems a fairly unlikely candidate for 'best driver on the road'.”

    I think those least likely to have accidents are those most able to spot cameras due to their increased general awareness (well they must be more aware if they have less accidents even though they go faster – right?) Regardless, it doesn’t take away from my point: use of the least risk drivers is a damn good guide for setting reasonable speed limits.

    “In fact, if you're really looking at *public perception*, if someone announced the accident rate at fixed camera sites fell by 45% (from H7), and didn't make any clarification, I think most people would think of that as 'compared to if nothing had been done'. For that person, the 23.5% figure (from H8) would best fit what they were thinking.”

    Jeepers creepers! Are you being serious? You are the only person I know who has interpreted such claims in such a nonsensical manner (and I’ve argued this with a lot of people). For you to make such an interpretation would require the assumption that all such reduction claims are factoring RTTM, and always were even before any RTTM study had been done, let alone quantified; that is of course just silly!

    Here are a few examples of the claims, taken from UK speed camera web sites:

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>

    “49% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI casualties) at camera sites compared to the baseline figure” [www.stratford-dc.gov.uk]

    “the collision statistics for roads across the Wiltshire and Swindon area, including camera sites indicated a 30.25% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured when compared with the baseline data [required by the Department for Transport before Safety Camera enforcement began]. [safetycameraswiltshire.co.uk]

    “Figures were produced at the presentation to Scrutiny to show that a reduction in casualties at camera sites has occurred, with the mobile deployment in Rutland showing a 77% reduction in killed and seriously injured [and a 36% reduction in personal injury casualties overall] when compared to the baseline.” [rutland.gov.uk]

    “(3 Year before site establishment compared to most recent 3 Year period)” [cmis.derby.gov.uk]

    “There were 50% fewer collisions in which people were killed or seriously injured at Warwickshire camera sites in 2003 compared to the annual average 1994-98.”

    “63% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI casualties) at camera sites compared to the baseline figure.” [warwickshire.gov.uk]

    “The report shows that on average at the camera sites in the pilots the number of people killed or seriously injured fell by 47%, compared to the average over the previous three years.” [dft.gov.uk]

    <<<<<<<<<<<<<

    The ‘baseline figure’ is the cluster of accidents which allowed the cameras to be placed (as per the placement policy).

    These examples are typical and the list is far from exhaustive. These are as clear as day; I’ve not selectively quoted convenient parts of the text. How about you list such claims from UK government/partnership websites clarifying as you would interpret, then we could then compare how many we can dig up so we can prove this point. It is obvious that only table H7 gives the data in the necessary context; to use table of H8 would be to compare apples and oranges.

    Regardless of how you decide interpret it, this is the way it is. What was it about what you said about people grabbing hold of the highest figure they see: “It's certainly true that some people pick up on and promote the larger figures, though how much of that is down to people bending the truth for their own ends, “. The words Hoist and Petard come to mind.

    To summarise table H7 (for everyone who hasn’t read the document):

    For the sites used in the RTTM analysis, there was an observed average of a 54.5% drop of KSIs at the camera sites. The analysis showed that the portions of this drop is split (in absolute terms, the sum totalling 54.5%) as follows:

    - Scheme effect: 10.4%

    - RTM effect: 34.8%

    - Trend effect: 9.3

    Points to note:

    1) The RTTM effect is obviously not the camera.

    2) The trend effect is derived from the overall national reduction of casualties, this resulting from all safety initiatives, such as better vehicle safety, post crash care, road engineering etc. The few cameras available at that time of analysis play no significant part in this factor (to argue otherwise will only confirm that speed cameras indeed do kill).

    3) The scheme effect is the camera (obviously), but it is also any other genuine safety measures which happens to be within the camera site such as: a new pedestrian crossing/barrier, cycle lane, redesign of that section of road etc. Urban camera sites can be up to 5km in length, so you would expect a few other measures in there. Yeah, it is good to have combinations of safety features, but would all of the KSI drop at eh site be wholly thanks to only the camera? If you don’t think so then you understand what I call ‘bias on selection’.

    Now, with the figures given, do you care to tell us how much of the drop of KSI is actually due to the camera? From that can you now answer the question:

    Do you agree that the claims of speed camera effectiveness is greatly exaggerated? (by at least a factor of 5)[let’s not forget that even the report with its RTTM analysis does not factor in the effect of ‘bias on selection’, itself greatly significant; we can discuss this after we conclude RTTM if you wish]

    “It's perfectly possible for someone to read the whole report and conclude that cameras are worth having, and presumably at least some people at the camera partnerships will have done that. For someone not set against cameras on principle, the report doesn't seem particularly likely to change their mind.”

    Of course! However, an author can guide the reader to a desired conclusion if only partial information is given and other critical factors are withheld and aren’t acknowledged, such as in this very report. If instead the report detailed the potentially huge effect of ‘bias on selection’, the shift away from traf-pol (even though we drive more), and the loss of national trend since the rollout of the speed camera policy, then I think most people ‘not set against cameras on principle’ are very likely to change their mind - don’t you think?

    I won't be surprised if you don't even try to reply before this forum closes.

  140. Steve

    @ David Wilson: do you work for the DfT?

    David Wilson, do you work for the DfT?

    I ask because I’ve discovered a so named person who does. That person is a data and statistics manager for road accident statistics who compiles Stats 19 reports and is responsible for transmitting this information to the powers that be; indeed this person is named as a contributor to these DfT Stats 19 reports. Such a person would, without doubt, be a large link in the chain of the success, or the holding back, of our road safety policy, as well guiding the “[perceived] public concerns” (your words) surrounding it.

    It IS curious that the only links you gave were of several DfT reports – reports of the very same Stats 19 papers which your namesake helped to compile. Furthermore, I was genuinely taken aback with your unusual level of knowledge of the Four Year Report - this amount of knowledge would be very much appropriate for a DfT road accident statistics manager. All this would also explain your apparent bias towards the ‘speed kills’ party line, the H7/H8 “bending the truth for [one’s] own ends” issue (more of your words) and hence your repeated failures to give straightforward answers to critical questions.

    Granted there must be many ‘David Wilsons’ in the world, but the numerous coincidences makes it is very difficult to believe this is merely an amazing fluke !!

  141. david wilson

    @Steve

    >>David Wilson, do you work for the DfT?"

    Nope.

    Not now, or in the past, or for any related organisation, camera partnership, etc, or in any paid or otherwise job anything to do with transport or road safety (or climate change, for that matter), or via any more tenuous connection you could dream up.

    >>"Granted there must be many ‘David Wilsons’ in the world, but the numerous coincidences makes it is very difficult to believe this is merely an amazing fluke !!"

    No doubt you'll continue to believe whatever you want.

    However, hardly an 'amazing fluke'. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that for someone looking for an anonymous name slightly less obvious than 'John Smith', it'd be hard to do much better.

    And IIRC, the only things I read and linked to were things that came up very early on Google with whatever obvious search terms I threw in.

    >>"Furthermore, I was genuinely taken aback with your unusual level of knowledge of the Four Year Report - this amount of knowledge would be very much appropriate for a DfT road accident statistics manager."

    That's deeply flattering, though I'm not sure how it squares with what I said last week.

    Had I actually been any kind of expert, even with only a fraction of my faculties working (as is currently the case, only more so), I'd hardly have asked what the difference between the two tables was, would I?

    Equally, if I was some DfT statistician sneaking out to do some background supporting of work I was involved in, how likely would I be to use my own name?

    All I did was skim the report and look at the table you pointed my to, and then look a bit more at a few sections. If I could do that in the state I was in, I imagine most Register readers could do at least as well.

    Finally, if I was a senior DfT statistician, don't you think I'd know what the speeding conviction / accident risk correlation was, and be able to produce it if it was useful, or have not mentioned it in the first place if it wasn't?

    >>"Jeepers creepers! Are you being serious? You are the only person I know who has interpreted such claims in such a nonsensical manner (and I’ve argued this with a lot of people). For you to make such an interpretation would require the assumption that all such reduction claims are factoring RTTM, and always were even before any RTTM study had been done, let alone quantified; that is of course just silly!"

    Steve, Steve, Steve.

    Just stop and look at what I was effectively saying:

    The average person, not caring or thinking or even *knowing* about RTTM, trends, etc, if told that fixed cameras cut accidents at their sites by X% might well be expected to think of that as "X% compared to if there hadn't been a camera there"

    That's an entirely natural, intuitive approach - that to measure the effectiveness of doing something, it's best to compare it to not doing that thing, over the same time period.

    If no-one you've talked to has ever suggested that to you before, you really should try arguing weith some more challenging people.

    Or just stop and wonder what table H8 was *for*.

    Or just admit that your '5:1 exaggeration' is itself rather a twisting of reality, and abandon it - you can't honestly claim the moral high ground compared to people jumping on the most positive looking number if you're doing the same thing in the other direction.

    It doesn't matter that the average person knows nothing about RTTM, trends, etc, because they'll just think that whoever worked out the numbers *had* somehow been able to work out what the accident rate would have been if cameras hadn't been there, which does rather seem to be what was done for table H8.

    >>"I won't be surprised if you don't even try to reply before this forum closes."

    I'm sorry to disappoint you (again).

    I just thought it was extending a courtesy to point out I would be away for some days, and that I might not be in a position to reply to anything you subsequently wrote.

    Obviously, you chose to read that, and then write in such a way that if I didn't reply, you could come away feeling like you'd scored another point.

    I'm surprised you feel you need such small victories.

    However, I'll give you another bite at the cherry, if it means so much to you.

    I'm still feeling like crap, you seem determined to take a thickly extreme view of pretty much everything I write, and I doubt I can be *bothered* to reply to anything else you come up with

    Feel free to make what smug capital you want out of that.

    I honestly couldn't give a flying ****, especially as there's probably no-one reading this now apart from me and you.

  142. Steve

    @ david wilson

    “tenuous connection… hardly an 'amazing fluke'.”

    If that’s what you call a tenuous connection then it’s no wonder you have problems connecting various factors. I’ve already explained myself, I’ve been given no reason to suspect my reasoning anything but realistic. I’ve never come across anyone who made the effort to look through the main body of the report, so yes do take it as a compliment.

    “Equally, if I was some DfT statistician sneaking out to do some background supporting of work I was involved in, how likely would I be to use my own name?”

    Much more likely than the having the same name as the person compiling the exactly the only reports you quoted. You might not have considered that someone you are arguing with might go to these lengths to determine hidden interests and biases.

    “Finally, if I was a senior DfT statistician, don't you think I'd know what the speeding conviction / accident risk correlation was, and be able to produce it if it was useful, or have not mentioned it in the first place if it wasn't?”

    Well, DfT statisticians did miss RTTM for a few years ;c)

    I can’t prove otherwise so I am willing to accept you at your word adn leave it at that (unless you 'continue to believe whatever you want’.).

    “Obviously, you chose to read that, and then write in such a way that if I didn't reply, you could come away feeling like you'd scored another point.”

    This was done to maximize the possibility of a response; I feel it wrong to let you continue with your odd interpretation of what is happening.

    This is a critical piece of the road safety puzzle, one which helps to demonstrate the speed camera policy has actually been detrimental, not ‘small victories’, afterall this is the point of the article. We’ve not even started on ‘bias on selection’ (for which I have some extremely damaging evidence). I know for a fact there are more than just the two of us reading this!

    To get back to the real issue: you are the only person I know who has interpreted such claims in such a nonsensical manner (and I’ve argued this with a lot of people). For you to make such an interpretation would require the assumption that all such reduction claims are factoring RTTM, and always were even before any RTTM study had been done, let alone quantified; that is of course just silly!

    “The average person, not caring or thinking or even *knowing* about RTTM, trends, etc, if told that fixed cameras cut accidents at their sites by X% might well be expected to think of that as "X% compared to if there hadn't been a camera there

    That's an entirely natural, intuitive approach - that to measure the effectiveness of doing something, it's best to compare it to not doing that thing, over the same time period.”

    That is very true, but I have demonstrated this isn't approach the SCPs use to describe camera effectiveness. I gave you various quotes stating speed camera effectiveness (with the critical associated quantitive element) all clearly using the prior baseline as the reference data (which is the very criteria which allowed the camera placement); so how could you interpret those otherwise? I note the lack of any counter quotes in return. I’m far from ‘jumping… in the other direction’!

    I have demonstrated my point, all you have done is deny it based on nothing more than what you believe should be; all you have really done is prove the SCPs/government are using a non-intuitive approach for quoting the effectiveness of their cameras (most likely because they want to ‘pick up on and promote the larger figures… for their own ends’). I’ve continued with you to ensure my arguments are strong and that I don’t get caught out by anything, to that end you have helped me - thank you.

    “Or just admit that your '5:1 exaggeration' is itself rather a twisting of reality, and abandon it”

    A ‘twisting of reality’, even though the data within the links you gave more than supports it? (the very small percentage of KSIs due to exceeding the speed limit)

    Why on earth should I abandon it when I’ve given quotes and reasoning supporting it, neither of which has been countered?

    “If no-one you've talked to has ever suggested that to you before, you really should try arguing weith some more challenging people.”

    Oh I indeed have talked with people who suggested the relevance of H8 and I’ve corrected them – and they accepted it. I can only wonder about you if you won’t explain why you don’t.

    If nothing else, do try to prove your interpretation (H8), especially with the quotes I have given (or your own); ducking out, or failing to do so would invariably leave one marked as a bigot, especially for future discussions.

  143. Steve

    A different tack.

    Let’s try a different tack.

    Regardless of what you believe the interpretive approach should be, from what we know from tables H7/H8, do you agree the claims I repeated (posted Friday 31st October 2008 14:09 GMT) are an exaggeration by a factor of 5?

    If not then why not?

This topic is closed for new posts.

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