back to article Cutbacks strip speed cameras from Blighty's roads

The proposition that speed cameras improve road safety looks likely to be severely crash-tested this summer, as government cutbacks make the likelihood of some counties becoming camera-free zones a near certainty. According to the Guardian, all 72 fixed speeding cameras in Oxfordshire are likely to disappear as the county …

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  1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Money spinners?

    But I thought these cameras *made* money. That nice man at the motoring organisation told me so. So what gives?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <title>

    There are other factors which can affect accident statistics at "accident black spots", but these rarely seem to be taken into account.

    Often the installation of a camera is just part of a package of road improvements, such as improved road layout and/or signs. Yet any reduction in accidents is attributed to the camera alone. The positive affect of the other changes are convieniently ignored.

    1. Ocular Sinister
      Go

      Well said...

      Couldn't have put it better myself: Either the motoring organizations are talking out of their fat greasy bottoms (lets face it - you don't get much exercise motoring) or these cameras are actually *making* money. Which is it to be?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        For decades

        the motoring organisations have echoed the Govt. position that the safest way to drive on the motorways is to stay in the left hand lane except for overtaking. I know that "stupidity" is one valid description for that advice but I'm sure there are many more. If I had nothing better to do I would love to work out what their motive for continuing to make this ludicrously unrealistic claim must be. I'm almost sure its not simply authoritarians who don't drive trying to coerce the rest of us into servility, though it feels that way.

        For the sake of those who don't know: it is stupidity because of the lorries and coaches in the left hand lane ensuring you have to continually go back into an often much faster traffic flow, in the process diverting attention for extended periods from the large, slow moving vehicle you're closing on, that you can't see in front of so don't know if its about to slam its air brakes on, in order to look in the rear-view mirror.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I see

          a couple of wannabe back seat drivers have downvoted me! Perhaps they're still fuming at having been denied a license along with the right to vote?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I would suggest

          Maybe get some motorway training, then.

          "For the sake of those who don't know: it is stupidity because of the lorries and coaches in the left hand lane ensuring you have to continually go back into an often much faster traffic flow, in the process diverting attention for extended periods from the large, slow moving vehicle you're closing on, that you can't see in front of so don't know if its about to slam its air brakes on, in order to look in the rear-view mirror."

          You do know that you have to change your driving and observation when traveling on a motorway, don't you?

          Yes, changing lanes is a risky maneuver, but so is not thinking about the road conditions and giving yourself enough time to react. If you find that looking in the mirror to make sure you can change lanes safely means you feel you might rear-end the vehicle in front of you if they make a sudden maneuver, then you're TOO CLOSE.

          Try and get hold of a copy of Roadcraft - The Police Driver's Handbook, it makes very interesting reading and can help you avoid many of the more common mistakes.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Also

            the company I used to work for grew concerned about the no. of accidents it's employees were having (I was the only one who hadn't been in a prang) so they got an advanced driving school to do an assessment. I did an obstacle course, took a mock exam, and was followed for several hundred miles. Their assessment was that I didn't need an advanced driving course.

            And as for getting hold of Roadcraft you might suggest that to the numerous police drivers who've mown down civilians in recent years?

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @I would suggest

            You don't get it, do you. Many many times I have slowed to allow safe braking distance. What happens - as you would know if you drove and / or lived in the real world - is someone overtakes you and puts you straight back to square one. Don't you know that? Are you still at school?

            The net result is you've gone backwards, which if you're happy with strongly implies that you should just stay off motorways not just for everyone else's safety, but because you're defeating the object of taking them in the first place.

            This happens invariably and on any of the busiest motorways this will be happening your entire journey so that effectively you are inviting everyone else on the road to go past; not just being unconcerned that they are but actively inviting them to. So what are you on the motorway for? Because like those ones who drive too slowly you get off on disrupting fifty miles of traffic so's you can feel smug? Do you wear a trilby by any chance?

            As for staying in the left hand lane you end up having to all but continually overtake. You slow to about 60 mph - to avoid rear-ending the lorry - then pull out and accelerate to about 80 mph very quickly. Or you're so brainless you force the traffic in the middle lane to brake every time, like, say, you fail to realise how very quickly those cars in the middle lane close on you at 80 when you pull out at 60, so you don't pay enough attention to that mirror. You pull out in front of them safe in the knowledge that they're the ones driving too fast, so if a pile up happens, it's not your fault, it's theirs?

            Yes, I know how to drive on the motorways. I covered a quarter of a million miles doing so, on all of the busiest ones. The only accident I was ever in was as a passenger on the M3 when I suggested the driver allow more braking room because his car was about 10 years older than the one in front and if it braked hard we would go into the back of it. He didn't listen. A minute later the car in front jammed its brakes on and we went into the back of it. Our car was a write off but thankfully no-one was hurt and we just spent the rest of the day trying to get back home.

            Dear AC, the most dangerous drivers of all on the motorways are the ones continually weaving in and out in and out to and from the left hand lane, like all the other dangerous drivers only they're trying to do it without attracting the attention of the police. The safest ones stay in the middle lane and leave the left hand to the lorries.

            1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

              @Vitty P

              I'm not sure that you are making your point very well. I suspect that you are trying to say that one should drive to the conditions. Sure, there are times when the traffic flow suggests that moving from one lane to another is going to be a problem for all concerned. This is usually at busy times. However, if there is a long distance (say, more than a minute at the speed you are doing), and traffic is generally light, move over to the left hand lane. Then overtake when you get to a suitable distance from the slower vehicle without having to slow down. Easy and obvious for most of us, but not the middle-lane hogger that thinks that it is their right to drive at 6omph in the middle lane (or the 3rd lane of a four-lane motorway) for miles, causing tailbacks and forcing people to overtake in the outer lane, or to undertake (something I hate).

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              @ Vitty P

              "The safest ones stay in the middle lane and leave the left hand to the lorries."

              Isn't it funny how the French, Germans & even the Spanish manage to drive in the left-lane ok, without causing pile ups? And how, in these countries, when you see a bunching of traffic on the motorway, you are practically guaranteed it's a bloody Brit, cruising in the middle lane overtaking 3 miles of fresh air.

              Middle lane cruisers make my bloody boil. You think you're safer, but all everyone else is thinking is "There's another trilby-wearer, driving along completely oblivious and on automatic pilot".

    2. Anonymous John

      Money spinners?

      The money goes to the Government but. local authorities pay all the costs of the cameras. Some of the proceeds flows back to the LAs, but less will due to the cuts.

      1. Anthony Shortland
        FAIL

        which.....

        which makes me think this is just a ploy (again) by the local authorities to gain control of the money the cameras bring into the government.

        I would be very surprised if the cameras really did disappear or even just get turned off.

    3. The Other Steve

      What he said

      After having spent the last how ever many tedious years listening to various stripe of cartard whining on about 'stealh taxes' and 'revenue cameras', what a surprise it is to discover that traffic enforcement measures are in fact a cost centre, rather than a profit centre.

      Can you all STFU now please ? Tx.

      1. ElFatbob
        FAIL

        @What he said

        Cost centre? - no they're not. The revenue went directly to the treasury, who creamed off the profit and gave grants back to the LA's for the running of said cameras.

        The government created a mantra 'Speed Kills'. Instead of allocating resources on traffic police, who can cover a wide range of offences, they invested in Speed Cameras, which solved the 'Speed Kills' mantra, allowed them to reduce the number of TP on duty and make a nice profit.

        So you're cordially invited to STFU. Tx.

    4. Joey

      Re: Money Spinners?

      The point is that the councils don't get to keep the money they generate, it goes into Treasury coffers. Anyway, all they have to do is switch *most* of them off but not say which.

    5. Steven Jones

      Cash Cows

      Fullfact.org on whether speed cameras are "cash cows"

      http://www.fullfact.org/articles/are_speed_cameras_simply_cash_cows

      The answer is clearly not simple, as the total expenditure on speed enforecement in 2008/9 exceeded the total revenue from fines. If the central government grant in this area is considerably reduced and this means that speed cameras are turned off (and the Treasury revenue goes down) then it's clear to see that the net cost to the Treasury could increase.

  3. Is it me?

    More sensibly

    You could just switch off the camera's and not tell anybody you have done it. Not all cameras are switched on all the time anyway. An acquaintance of mine put a bird box, about the size of the digital cameras, painted bright yellow in a tree outside his house. it works wonderfully in slowing traffic.

  4. Number6

    Reversion to the mean

    There are probably a small number of places that might really justify a camera, but most of the 'accident black spots' are just statistical blips and would have improved their accident rate over the following year or so regardless of whether a camera was installed or not. It's all part of the nanny state that wants to monitor us as much as possible and make sure we never, ever transgress from the approved line.

    Fortunately, the new government appears to be a breath of fresh air, blowing the nanny state out of all sorts of areas, either directly or, as in this case, indirectly. I wonder if they'll clobber the ANPR system as well?

  5. Cameron Colley
    Coat

    I was going to make a serious comment.

    But a word in your article has meant all I can think of is: "Mooooeerrrgghhh", "'was in the War" and "M-m-m-m-m-m-multikill-kill-kill!!!!".

  6. Jimmy Floyd
    Paris Hilton

    Oxfordshire

    Ironic that Oxfordshire might be turning off their cameras, but then given their bureaucratic vacillations a few years ago perhaps it also isn't surprising.

    In short: Oxfordshire decided to re-assess the speed limits on all of the county's roads based on a blanket set of criteria. So some roads which were at the national speed limit of 60mph were overnight dropped to 30mph (because they were within 50 metres of a lamppost, or something). Some junctions had a 30mph speed limit installed around them on otherwise 60mph roads, leading to cars slowing up for all of ... oooh ... 200 yards before accelerating again.

    If they'd been gradually downgraded (you know, via 50 & 40mph) based on the accident rate then it might have made sense - but they weren't - it was just an exercise in putting up signposts. Then later, when they realised how daft it was, an exercise in taking them down again.

    Paris, because Oxfordshire County Council were really quite blonde.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical!

    Just a couple of weeks after I was caught by one for the first time, lol.

    Semi-seriously though, surely the suggestion that they'll be axed as a cost-cutting measure is the best evidence we've ever had of their effectiveness? If they were producing significant income, surely they'd not be considering turning them off under the circumstances.

    Personally, I have to admit being zapped by one of these automated velocity pedants has probably made me a marginally safer driver, and the one that caught me was right beside what I expect otherwise would be quite a dangerous junction.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The technology can't keep up

    If technology could make a "going round the roundabout without indicating" or "going round the roundabout in the wrong lane" or "driving too bloody close on the motorway" or "driving constantly at less than the speed limit in the middle lane without overtaking anyone or there even being any other vehicles in view" or "driving along at below the speed limit without having any awareness of anything else on the road" camera, then I would fully support it's use and it would likely solve a lot of the daily "almost accidents" that I see.

    Contrast the number of idiot related accidents to the number of accidents I see related to people driving too fast (I don't think I've seen any. I caused one once (that's one out of 20 years of driving), but I was under the speed limit so claims that speed cameras would have prevented it are tosh)

    As a Swindonian, I'd like to see them spend some money on actually painting useful arrows on roads approaching roundabouts, so I don't find myself in the wrong lane with a bunch of angry people beeping at me. That would prevent more anger, which would prevent accidents.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That sound you hear is Clarkson revving up

    for a land speed record attempt around the Oxford ring road, cackling maniacally as he goes

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Go

      <title>

      You're from Swindon and you need lane arrows on the approach to roundabouts? You have the Magic Roundabout, you don't need lane arrows!!

    2. Mike Smith
      Pirate

      Swindon, eh

      Not talking about that wretched Magic Roundabout, are you? I've been known to drive thirty miles out of my way rather than risk my neck on that terrifying thing.

      Out of interest, just how many accidents have there been there?

    3. The BigYin

      Arrows

      "I'd like to see them spend some money on actually painting useful arrows on roads approaching roundabouts"

      Indeed! Nothing is more annoying that approaching in what one thinks is the correct lane, only to spot the arrow just before the dotted line and note that one is now in the wrong lane for this particular roundabout (e.g. two lanes in, left is mandatory first exit or something).

      One arrow about 200m further down the road (or even some singage!) would be a big help.

      1. Equitas
        Thumb Down

        Common sense

        is what you'll certainly not find when it comes to road safety,

        Road markings that are any use to strangers to the area? Certainly not!

        Meaningful road signs? Perhaps occasionally, but certainly not consistently, especially at a local level.

        Police doing anything about obstructive drivers -- especially tractors on country roads making no attempt to pull off to let a queue of dozens if not hundreds of cars overtake? Certainly not.

        A very large part of the reason that Scotland's "killer roads" -- the major A9, A82 and A96 roads are so dangerous is obstruction by slow-moving vehicles on those major arterial routes.

        Speed kills? Yes, of course it does. But so do obstructive drivers.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          A9 in Scotland

          This is the only road I've ever used where there were signs telling slower drivers to let others overtake! Brilliant and sensible. (This was a few years ago - don't know if they still exist).

          1. Equitas
            FAIL

            A9 signs

            "This is the only road I've ever used where there were signs telling slower drivers to let others overtake! Brilliant and sensible. (This was a few years ago - don't know if they still exist)."

            The signs still exist. The pity is that, instead of the police enforcing them, they patrol in their unmarked cars (with revolving number plates, if you please -- not kidding) and pick off those exceeding the speed limits -- limits which go up and down between 60mph and 70mph) instead of pulling over drivers who obstruct. HGVs, of course, are restricted to 50mph.

            Few drivers on the part of that road between Inverness and Perth will be travelling less than 100 miles -- most will be travelling at least twice that distance. Crawling along behind a convoy of Tesco lorries moving at 40mph for mile after mile after mile causes a totally-unnecessary build-up of frustration. I'm quite sure that if lorries or other vehicles found needlessly obstructing the traffic flow and declining to pull off into laybys to let queues clear were to be pulled over frequently and given a minute examination for any potential Construction and Use infringements their owners and drivers would eventually get the message that it would be be in their own interests not to obstruct the flow of traffic unnecessarily.

    4. Funkster
      Go

      The thing is...

      ... that I suspect it would probably be quite straightforward to create any of these things, but the question would be how you would enforce it.

      Think we can make a fog-lights-on-when-it's-not-foggy camera also? :o)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Perfectly said

      ...and yet the officials still insist on referring to them as 'safety' cameras.

    6. Glesga Snapper
      Grenade

      NIMBY

      Your friend sounds like a right nob.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Oh I don't know

        Some places without GATSOs or other trickery do deserve a general slow-down. Like unlit 50mph roads through the woods with a nice hill in the middle and bike lanes painted on either side that somehow invite people to drive 70 or 90 and occasionally bump into^W^Wdrive over dogs, people on push bikes, and so on. Yet equally mysteriously the local council can't be arsed to come up with any attempt at any solution whatsoever.

        It might be knobbery. It might be righteous too. Can't tell from here what the situation there is.

    7. Petrea Mitchell
      Coat

      Re: Clarkson revving up

      Well, once Hammond was made Minister of Transport, it was only a matter of time, wasn't it?

    8. Adam Salisbury
      Megaphone

      Sadly....

      While I do find him funny, he's the kind of twunt you need speed cameras for. A few mph over the limit to maintain the flow of traffic is an invetitability of driving these days but that ageing berk needs to keep his idiocy on the track not bragging about hitting 180 on the open road where he can kill people (coz he's NOT that good a driver either).

      It's people like him who gave the Gov the excuse to put these up in the first place (the irony of it slays me!)...

      /Rant

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Making money is failure

      If the cameras are really making a lot of money, then they are a monumental failure.

      A successful camera would make very little money.

      Let us not forget, they are supposed to be slowing people down, not making money.

    10. Steve Murphy
      Pint

      Are you sure?

      " I caused one once (that's one out of 20 years of driving), but I was under the speed limit so claims that speed cameras would have prevented it are tosh)"

      Statistically significant proof there, stop the debate.

      "so I don't find myself in the wrong lane with a bunch of angry people beeping at me."

      Are you really sure you've only caused on?

      Beer icon, because you drive better after a couple no doubt.

    11. Velv Silver badge
      Jobs Horns

      Statistical Blips ?

      " 'accident black spots' are just statistical blips "

      Are they hell!!!

      Every stretch of road has a risk of an accident. Consider a straight, open section of road. Add a bend and you increase the risk of an accident. Make it narrow, you increase the risk. Add two junctions, you increase the risk. Add a shop, you increase the risk. Add a caravan site, you increase the risk. The list goes on, and the more features there are in one place, the higher the risk, with some features adding significantly more risk (e.g. blind dips, close walls and hedges).

      Accident blackspots almost always have more "features" that increase the risk of an accident, therefore reducing the speed is one way to minimise the impact should an accident occur. (This is an IT publication - everyone should understand risk and impact)

      Now, I'm not suggesting cameras are the answer. Reducing the "features" reduces the risk, so juctions should be simplied, sight lines improved, and hazards moved. And not holding your mobile phone (the wrong way) helps.

    12. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Except he won't

      It's a sad state of affairs to admit that there's so much traffic on the bypass, it makes illegal speeds nearly impossible whether he wanted to do them or not. Likewise for most bypasses in the country I suspect.

      I'm with original poster though - all the accidents I've seen in recent years, have been down to the muppetry - or senility* - of the drivers pure and simple, rather than speed.

      *And before the retired old duffers chip in with the self-defence - c'mon...you have to admit that a fair percentage of the tail-backs,"frustration headons" and "near misses" are caused by people in your age group, where the rate-determining step is the sensory apparatus and grey matter between the ears. Unfortunately, the stats don't show how much of a compensating factor the rest of us have to allow when dealing with you on the road, when really we shouldn't have to.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Flame

        Road tax.

        "The list goes on, and the more features there are in one place, the higher the risk, with some features adding significantly more risk (e.g. blind dips, close walls and hedges)."

        Yes, and the risk is _still_ something very, very low.

        Like 1 in 1 000 000 cars will have an accident there and there's no way of measuring that kind of risks meaningfully, because the driver is always the biggest risk, at least thousandfold difference. But you don't say that, because it would make your explanations worthless and even a lie.

        Compared to the risk driver is, all the others are meaningless babble, used only as an excuse to put ridiculous speed limits and cameras to make money on them. "Every camera pays itself in 4 months" says the Police. They don't say anything about safety, which is no surprise, because that's not what the cameras are for. They are a Road Tax, designed to steal money.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Velv

        "Accident blackspots almost always have more "features" that increase the risk of an accident, therefore reducing the speed is one way to minimise the impact should an accident occur. (This is an IT publication - everyone should understand risk and impact)"

        But isn't introducing a camera introducing another feature and therefore increasing the risk?

    13. Mountford D

      Speed differential and lack of common sense is the problem

      I was rear-ended last year (first accident in 7 years) when I was near-stationary in a stop-start traffic queue. The other driver wasn't travelling fast either - he just failed to apply his brakes. He gave some feeble but feasible excuse but I suspect he wasn't paying attention (possibly texting?) and assumed the queue was still moving.

      When everything is zooming along at around 70mph on motorways, it's great. Problems arise when a vehicle is travelling much slower than the rest and drivers pull out to overtake without looking in their mirrors and no amount of legislation or speed cameras can control this. Some countries enforce a minimum speed limit with penalties as severe as exceeding it. This may not be a bad experiment for the authorities to trial.

    14. Andy 97
      Grenade

      Oxford CC - yes buffoons-r-us.

      Living in the county I can honestly say that the changes recently made can only be attributed to a complete lack of sense.

      I live within less than 2 miles of 3 cameras, one is beside a traffic light facing up a hill - exactly where traffic starts from and the other 2 are on a stretch of road that at most times of the day is lucky to get over 15 mph.

      As for the safety campaigners, well, they would say that wouldn't they.

  10. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    A poll in the Daily Mail?

    Was he living on benefits in someones shed?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No Poles read the Daily Bitterness

      But it sells well in Surrey & Kent ... the home of Real Bitter(..ness)

  11. Stu J

    Umm

    Just switch them off, and leave them there as decoys? They'll still act as a deterrent to speeding to an extent, just without costing anything.

  12. TheOtherJola
    Thumb Up

    crash-tested

    crash-tested

    predictable squeals

    fuelling the view

    carmaggedon

  13. The BigYin

    Safety Cameras

    I don't like the GATSO style safety cameras, they only check the speed at one specific point and if the limit has been set wrong (yes, it is quite possible to set a limit that is too low) then you get a concertina effect when the traffic gets to the camera zone. Average speed cameras are much better.

    Cameras I support 100% are red-light cameras. Although they are far too lenient (amber means stop, idiots) and I have yet to see any attached to automated Gattling guns to remove the red-light jumping, pond scum from existence.

    The thing that puzzles me is that the cameras are revenue generators. At a time of cost cuts, one would expect their use to increase. Although, with the money first going to the Treasury, the local council who has to bear the cost probably doesn't get to see much of it.

    Anyway; even if you believe that speeding (as in, being over the limit) is a causal factor in around 33% of accident (the true figure is probably nearer 7%, according to unmassaged governmental figures), those light-up smiley faces are actually more effective. As is better road design, surface repair, signage etc. So if Brake really, *REALLY* support road safety; then throwing it all behind the safety camera is counter-productive.

    The one big thing that really helps road safety is traffic police, but I doubt we'll be seeing any of those on or roads any time soon. Coppers cost money and despite traffic cops making roads safer (also catching miscreants of various types) they simply cost too much.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Two points...

    1. Regression to the mean accounts for a large part of the apparent success of placing a speed camera in a "blackspot".

    2. Will the cameras actually be removed, or just left there with no film in so that you can't tell the difference. Can we look forward to updated lists of non-functioning cameras, or perhaps a nice new sign with a "Camera Non-functional" pictogram on it?

    Go icon, obviously.

  15. Conrad Longmore
    Big Brother

    Regression to mean

    Step one:

    Identify a bunch of areas that have significantly higher than average accident rates.

    Step two:

    Do anything at all. Sacrifice a chicken. Dance around in the nude. Put up speed cameras. Or do nothing.

    Step three:

    Wait a year, and overall accident rates at those locations will have dropped. Claim success.

    What you do in step two is not that important, because you have chosen to concentrate on sites which are statistical outliers.. outliers that exist often because of some fluke or random event that does not happen again. There is a whole concept called "Regression to Mean" (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_to_mean).. in other words, statistical anomalies have a habit of going away by themselves and will just crop up elsewhere.

    This is not to say that safety cameras are useless. In some places there really ARE dangers that can be mitigated by slowing traffic down. But often in these cases the real solution is something else.. if you have a dangerous junction, you can redesign it to eliminate the root cause of the problem (for example).

    Big Brother because..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Stop

      Yes, but....

      "amber means stop, idiots"

      Yes, but the point of the amber is to provide a buffer zone for cars that are already too committed to stop, otherwise, you could just do away with the amber and go straight from green to red and book everyone just after the lights change.

      It does mean stop, but only if you can do so safely.

      By the time red comes on, all the traffic should have had sufficient time to come to a standstill.

    2. Tuomas Hosia
      Flame

      "safety" cameras don't affect to safety at all

      "Although they are far too lenient (amber means stop, idiots)"

      No, it doesnt'. It means, literally "Be prepared to stop (if you can do it safely)."

      Thus making yourself an idiot.

      Red light means stop, but even that is conditional: If there are one traffic light post before crossing and the other after it, _you may leave the crossing against red light_.

      So even red light doesn't _always_ mean stop.

      Another example: There's an ambulance approaching and you stand at red lights. You are obliged to make way to ambulance (or fire truck or police) and again red light means nothing.

      No doubt a camera will fine you in both cases, money must flow (from your pocket to government coffers).

  16. Arkasha

    About time too

    "Speed cameras are a really cost-effective way of managing speed, which is one of the biggest issues on our roads."

    I'd say speed is not the issue, it's driving fast and *badly* that's the problem. The vast majority of accidents I see on the roads (and I do a lot of miles 35k+ a year - never had a ticket or an accident in 12 years) are people running in to the back of the car in front because they were tail gating or just not paying attention.

    "...that the presence of speed cams on one stretch of road may push accidents to elsewhere in the county."

    This is absolutely true. There's a speed camera just after a slip road on to the A14 near Cambridge that causes mayhem at peak hours because you've got people coming on to the A14 and slamming on the brakes when the see the speed camera and people on the A14 itself either trying to get out of the way of those coming on and hitting the brakes or slowing down for the camera. In the normal course of events the area would be fairly smooth flowing, but the addition of the camera causes people to drive in unexpected ways which inevitably leads to accidents.

    Interestingly people instintively slow down for the camera even if they're doing under 70mph! Then, after the camera you have some people trying to accelerate, some trying to change lanes and others just pootling along at 50/60mph that everyone else has to get round.

  17. Tim Parker

    Irony

    "Ironically, switching off the cams may be the only way to work out whether they have been having an effect or not."

    Ironic ? Perhaps 'sadly' would be more accurate, whereas i'd say ironic is the tenor of the article - especially when commenting on bias in safety reporting.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    <title>

    I'm ashamed to say this but the French and others on the continent may be a few steps ahead of us here in terms of controlling the speed of traffic effectively and cheaply in at least some ways.

    In many places where we'd expect to find a camera, the French have simply put a ruddy great section of bollards where the road normally goes, and diverts the traffic around them. The simplicity of it is that the motorist has to slow down to navigate this section of road that effectively juts out and back in fairly sharply from the main highway and it's hardly cost them a thing, it doesn't damage whatever traffic is passing through (ie speed bumps etc) and it doesn't hinder the traffic flow either as everyone has to slow to a reasonable speed to get through it.

    I will add I've only seen this on a single-lane road, but it could be a useful way of slowing traffic without the aggro. No speed bumps, no cameras. How can the Mail readers moan?

    Still, it's french. So I'll get my coat...

  19. Rogerborg

    Congratulations to your acquaintance

    Now if he steps in front of a car, he can be confident that the driver will be looking at either the bright yellow box or their speedo.

  20. Arnold Lieberman
    Go

    About time Brake halted

    "It would be especially hard to justify the idea that all speed cameras should be turned off. Speed cameras are a really cost-effective way of managing speed, which is one of the biggest issues on our roads.

    Really? According to DfT statistics (for which time period I do not remember) speed was a contributory factor in 5% of accidents, meaning 95% of accidents would have occurred regardless of the speed of the vehicle(s) involved.

    Also, since speed cameras were introduced the year-on-year decline in number of accidents has flattened out.

    I'm sure there's more evidence on www.abd.org.

    1. Jane Fae

      Punishment of over-eager motorists?

      Hmmmm.... seems like a good place to mention a recent Cambridge incident.

      There, for those unfamiliar with the city centre, automated bollards go up and down depending on whether the approaching vehicle has the requisite key fob (or gizmo...) or not. So buses, taxis, etc. may enter the town centre. Others may not.

      Watched, one saturday, what happens when you try and sneak through in the tail of a bus. The guy was not swift enough.

      Cue large popping sound (as bollard took out nearside tyre). Cue clatter, as front bumper fell to the ground. Cue large pool of water, as something obviously essential got ruptured inside the engine. Add in airbag going off - apparently the car objected to being "shafted" in this fashion...and the engine coughing to a halt a few yards later.

      Hmmm.... not bad for a few seconds thoughtlessness. A repair costing several thousand pounds (unless the car was a total write-off). Public humiliation. And an interesting insurance claim.

      If you hurl your car at a brick wall, do you get your money back? Dunno...but this seems similar.

      jane

      xx

    2. Steve Murphy
      Pint

      5%

      Oh a statistic I cannot remember, but lets make up a number, make it small, call it 5%, can't search on google as this would disprove it.

      Try 30%

      Pint glass for you too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Hmmm he's a lot closer than you think

        6% according to Swindon

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10762590

  21. Sebastian Brosig

    franchise

    Can I have the franchise to put speed cameras up where i like? I think I'd be able to make some money. (P.S. i don't drive a motor vehicle, fnar fnar)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Probably not

      Not without a motor vehicle anyway. Those things are heavy.

  22. Scott 19
    IT Angle

    Easy

    Cameras outside the schools round my way should stay, the ones that are there just to make money ie a 30mph dual carriageway that has seen no fatal accidents ever, can nod off.

    1. EvilGav 1

      The irony being . . .

      . . . if everyone (yes, I know it's not actually *everyone*) stopped driving their kids to school, there wouldn't be such a problem with traffic and certainly not around the school.

      Stop the madness of driving kids to school every day and lots of the problems would go away.

      1. M Gale

        The problem here.

        School starts at 9am.

        A lot of jobs start at 9am.

        Not a lot of bosses are sympathetic towards someone who is consistently 15-30 minutes late.

        1. Jared Hunt
          WTF?

          Methods of travel to school

          While there are always situations where one is compelled to drive ones kids to school (so don't bother listing them) Why the hell can't the majority kinds these days walk / cycle / catch the bus / car share with other kids parents?

          I did all of these things at varoius stages during my school life and we're only talking about 15 or so years ago here.

          1. M Gale

            Walking to school

            Oh, the moment I got into high school I was quite happy to walk there. However, you'll find some parents not very eager to let their darling 8 year olds out of their sight even on the way to primary school, understandably enough.

  23. captain veg

    Proof

    <quote>"When the cameras were working there were eight slight accidents and one fatal accident across the sites, and post-switch off there were seven slight accidents and two serious accidents." Hardly an impressive argument for cameras.</quote>

    I don't know...

    <quote>IT pointed us to a piece of research (pdf) claiming that over the nine years from 2000 to 2008, "there was a reduction of 75.2% (113 to 28) in Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) collisions at camera sites[...]"</quote>

    ... so, on the KSI measure, Swindon suffered a 200% worsening post-switch off. Quite impressive, if you didn't know the raw figures.

    -A.

    1. OldBiddie

      On the other hand

      One could possibly surmise, that the drop in KSI from 2000 to 2008 is due to improvements in car safety design from 2000 to 2008.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Selected "truth"

      "<quote>IT pointed us to a piece of research (pdf) claiming that over the nine years from 2000 to 2008, "there was a reduction of 75.2% (113 to 28) in Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) collisions at camera sites[...]"</quote>"

      Some selected camera sites, of course. But that is something which is never said, so small part of the whole truth that's it's a blatant lie.

      Some other selection of camera sites would bring opposite numbers but you'll _never_ see those published, anywhere.

      Also: No mention of overall collisions and/or injured, meaning both increased at least same percentage, because safer cars caused less deaths or severe injuries (and more normal injuries).

      Thus _only the camera_ attributes to deaths and mandatory crash tests for all cars don't mean a thing. Why are they mandatory, then?

      Nor the tripling of the petrol price (meaning _much less_ traffic). Everytime "authorities" are playing with absolute numbers (not relative, like "the deaths/100 000 cars"), they are lying. Cut 50% of the traffic and slightly safer cars and you'll have 75% reduction in deaths _anywhere, all the time_.

      So, show me the naive idiot who buys this BS?

  24. Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner
    Alert

    camera fans needn't worry...

    We've just had a year of unusually low road accident stats. We can expect that next year the figures will, most likely, go up again to something closer to the long term average.

    At that point you can jump up and down and screech about how scrapping cameras has cost lives.

    Google "regression to the mean". It's the trick where you wait for something bad to happen -- like too much rain, or too little rain, making the crops fail -- and tell the tribe you can placate the Angry Gods and make it all OK again if they give you lots of virgins. Of course the weather will go back to normal (otherwise it wouldn't be "normal", would it?) like you knew it would, but you're better off with all your new virgins, and best of all, the ripped-off thickos in the rest of the tribe think you're great. This trick works just as well with a spate of nasty accidents, speed cameras, and a fat salary for running the quango that "solves" the problem.

  25. Lionel Baden

    hey whats wrong with speed cameras

    Its a nice status quo at the moment

    Police

    Were doing something about speeders

    Speeders

    Were slowing down for about 1/100th of our journey

  26. Jonathan Richards 1
    Flame

    Pushing accidents around

    <quote>There is also the issue ... that the presence of speed cams on one stretch of road may push accidents to elsewhere in the county.</quote>

    What, like there's a certain number of accidents that *have* to happen, but they are excluded by the yellow-box-fluence field? Or maybe people think "Sod it, I've had to drive safely down that bit of dual carriageway, I'll just floor it on the back road, and who cares if there's a tractor coming the other way".

    There's no theoretical minimum number of fatal road traffic accidents, you know, and no theoretical minimum amount of stupid driving behaviour.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Except when

      people take a different route to avoid the cameras. And quite likely a less suitable route. Like they rat run to avoid traffic lights or roadworks. You'd expect it, wouldn't you? And they would tend to be the impatient ones, the 'accidents-waiting-to-happen'. They probably think "Wa-hay! I'm much less likely to be done for using my mobile on _this_ road!" too.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Theoretically, yes, but ...

      "There's no theoretical minimum number of fatal road traffic accidents, you know, and no theoretical minimum amount of stupid driving behaviour."

      In theory, yes.

      In practice they'll be always be some suicides and there is no way you can stop those.

      Nor stupidity, it's infinite. No matter how much you lessen it, it's still infinite.

  27. LPF

    @is it me?

    I agree put up loads of the things, an not tell anyone which oen is active. If they are money spinners that means there are loads of retards breaking the limit. If you cant pay the fine dont do the crime biatch!

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      WTF?

      @LPF

      Your comments are neither useful nor grammatical. Trot off home now - your mum's calling you in for your tea.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Typical onesided, very English response from BRAKE

    I demand a far higher standard of driving, not just speed cameras. They dont stop the 1000's of other accidents each day, caused by the atrocious driving skills of the populace as a whole.

    What about the fact that most school kids dont get road safety lessons. How many times have I had to brake suddently because some daft kid has run out into the road? LOADS!

    What was the mother/father doing instead of watching their sprog? ANYTHING but! Probably too busy with their reason for not having a life phone or wondering what they're going to have for tea.

    Backwards, totally retarded.

  29. Roger Garner
    Go

    Good good...

    Something I hate about speed cameras in general... people slow down for them for no legitimate reason.

    We've all been there, doing 70mph on a dual carriageway behind someone else also doing 70mph and suddenly finding ourselves catching up on the cretin in front when they see a speed camera and slow/brake to 60-65mph.

    Yet speed cameras apparently increase road safety. I consider them to be just another road hazzard along the same lines of a kid riding a bike at the side of the road. You don't know if the kid will fall off about the same as if the driver in front of you will brake for no reason at the sight of a camera. Just something else to worry about...

  30. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Money spinners

    Some are money spinners. Mostly the ones on empty stretches of dual carriageway that make a couple of million/year from catching people speeding on an empty road at 4:00am.

    Some are more expensive to install and operate, and don't catch as many people - like ones in built-up areas or in front of schools.

    Guess which ones are going to be cut.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wrong way round!

    Rather than scrap them, move them to good roads - set up a MINIMUM speed cameras.

    Start fining the morons that insist on driving waay below the speed limit.

    Result:

    Less queueing, less people getting frustrated, less lost work time, less dodgy overtaking and less accidents!

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

      Bad idea AC

      I doubt many would agree after they get fined because the car in front is driving slowly, or because they're getting fined for being in traffic

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    removing speed cameras

    what worries me is this change is being driven through so quickly.

    As speed cameras are on the way out I'll tell you my foolproof method for beating speed cameras - works every time and they can't touch you for it...

    drive inside the speed limit.

    If you can't control the speed of your vehicle you shouldn't be driving - catch a bus

    And I love all the insane statistics experts who can prove every accident black spot is a potential regression to the mean. With knowledge like that, how come you haven't won the lottery?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    What About Indicator Cameras

    I don't really mind people who speed, it's the bloody morons who have no idea what those little yellow things are at each corner of their car and still further fail to comprehend what they are when going right around a roundabout that are the biggest danger on the road.

    THEY ARE CALLED INDICATORS AND LET PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU INTEND TO DO !

    Ah - Feel better now :)

  34. Dan Herd
    Thumb Down

    The Daily Mash...

    ...says it all:

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/arseholes-who-think-they're-good-at-driving-celebrate-speed-camera-victory-201007262943/

    Stop believing everything that comes of Clarkson's mouth people...

  35. Jacqui
    FAIL

    Police traps

    A friend of mine who pootles along in her mondeo (she is 73) was recently "caught" doing 31MPH in a 30MPH zone. This was on the flat after a short steep hill. I believe the damp conditions may have lead to her actualy been doing <30 but she did not want to fight it.

    However while the young WPC was taking my friends details an insanley aggressive "sarge" with the speed gun came up to her and rammed the gun in her face screaming SEE SEE SEE!. Thankfully she is build of stern stuff and did not do what many OAPs in that position would have done (had a coronary) but ignored the moron. When she cleaned the spittle off her face, the WPC apologised profusely for his behavior but my friend went straight to the local station and made a formal complaint.

    Of course, the paper pusher behind the desk could not cope and "went to get someone", leaving her to stand at the desk for over half an hour - they probably assumed she would

    give up and walk off. SHe did not and ignored the various (obvious) attempts to disuade her from making a complaint.

    FYI this road is perfectly safe during the day (it was 2pm) but at night all sorts of local boy racers use it as a race track. Of course the police NEVER attend such events.

    Oh and there were 8 police officers and maybe four plastic plod. IN reality one with a gun and thre WPC taking details with teh rest standing around drinking tea and coffee. No DVLA either.

    Jacqui

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sorry

      Got to call BS on that. You would never be stopped for doing 31mph in a 30mph limit. By law you can't be pulled until you are doing the limit + 10% + 1mph so that would be 34mph. Either you are talking cock or your friend is talking cock. Somebody certainly is.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
        Stop

        AC - you're the cock

        The 10%+2mph is merely guidance from ACPO. No poloice force is required to adhere to it, and zero-tolerance is used in some areas.

        Now apologise.

  36. Steve Murphy

    "regression to the mean"

    Has Jeremey Clarkson posted this argument on his blog and all you sheeple have come here posting the same phrase.

  37. JRallo
    Thumb Up

    Automated Tolls/Toll booths.

    Why not just put up automated toll booths, or when one doesn't buy the transponder, the tried and true box behind a concrete barrier? Gov makes money, speeding becomes harder (if you stagger the stretches) win win! Speeders just pay an extra 'toll' (because, this is less to do with safety than to do with making money) by calculating the average speed between the toll booths. Go faster? Pay more. Then when someone gets into an accident the records could be pulled. This also has the advantage that if you use it, you pay for it.

    Yes, I'm in the USoA. It seems the toll roads are both safer (more barriers, better signage/lighting, and better maintained) and more people seem how to drive, ie, drive faster. The regular cattle pens seem to be less maintained (more road debris/pot holes) and are driven by more idiots.

    It'll never work tho.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Debate

    This could be a debate into whether or not the removal of fixed speed cameras is a good thing or not, but...

    I think what this clearly shows is that the argument of most of the anti lobby is a crock. The fact that cutbacks are forcing "safety partnerships" to remove speed cameras shows that, by and large, these cameras cost more to run than they rake in. So they are not a revenue raising device.

    They were once, but only in a way. Under the original system safety partnerships liked the cameras because they got to keep the revenue (supposedly to plough back into road safety). However since they were receiving a chunk of funding from central government for every camera they were making a "profit". However when the system changed supposedly to make speed cameras more fair and less corrupt the old government pulled a flanker in a an attempt to win votes. They claimed that it was clear that some authorities were fudging the case to get cameras installed so they could have more cameras and more revenue, so they were going to change the way it worked. The press bought this line wholesale believing it to mean the government were goign to change the way the process of deploying cameras was managed. It wasn't, if anything the criteria became more lenient. What did change was where the revenue went. Instead of going to the safety partnership and getting ploughed back into road safety (no honestly none of it was spent on salaries and the like, ahem) the money now went into the treasury.

    The problem with the whole process from a safety POV is that while KSI accidents may reduce at the camera sites, and the effect may even be genuine, it does not take into account the effect elsehwhere in the area. We have an A road which shows high KSI stats for years, the speed cameras went in over the last two years and already casualties are down. If the cameras stay then I believe the casualties will stay down. I don't think this is a case where RTM applies since the statistical mean showed high KSI rates for years. This is a geniune case of speed cameras working, at the camera sites. The accidents were generally late at night and tended to involve street racing. Now the cameras have been installed the boy racers have moved their operations to other roads in the area and accident rates are starting to increase on those roads.

    Yes speed cameras do work in some cases, but in the official statistics no allowance is made for increases in accident rates elsewhere.

    Also the criteria for camera placement include the incidence of speeding and the number of KSI accidents where speeding is a factor. The problem with this particular measurement is that the speed of vehicles in an accident can only be estimated and if you take a road where the incidence of speeding is high then it is likely that the estimated speeds will be high. Even if the vehicles were exceeding the posted speed limit, whos to say that doing so caused or contributed to the accident? There is seldom any evidence that it did. This is usually an assumption.

    What really worries me is the number of sites where the speed limit is reduced and weeks later a camera turns up. How on earth can statistics have been gathered for this particular camera site for both the rate of KSI accidents and the incidence of speeding over a few short weeks. They haven't, is the simple answer. Statistics for speeding were usually recorded before the speed limit was lowered. So, for example, statistics that show a high proportion of vehicles were doing 55mph against a limit of 40mph are actually bogus since the speed limit at the time the statistics were recorded may have been 60mph and very few vehicles were actually speeding.

    Most people are against speed cameras on general terms, but are in favour of them in very specific terms. That is to say they don't want cameras where they drive, but they do want them near their homes.

    All of the above hopefully goes some way to showing that the whole issue of speed cameras is enormously complex and both the pro and anti lobbies oversimplify them enormously.

    In closing however I'd just like to say that BRAKE infurate me because they oversimplify all road safety issues beyond all reason and try to suppress all debate. Nobody, but nobody should do that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RTM

      The whole issue with RTM is that if you look into the statistics for speed camera sites (freely available on the web) you will see that the beneficial effect of some speed cameras is clearly a case of RTM. Since there is a delay between the gathering of stats, the application to install the camera and the installation of the camera In some cases you will even see RTM *before* the cameras are deployed.

      In some cases however there is a clear benefit to the speed cameras. I can think of one particular site where the camera is located on a straight stretch before a blind summit which hides a priority junction. An additional problem here is that beyond the blind crest drivers can see the end of the speed limit. Despite lots of warning signs the accident rate continued to be high. The speed camera just before the crest did it's job. Now you could argue that it's the junction itself that's dangerous, but it isn't if traffic approaches at 30mph it only becomes dangerous when traffic is doing 40mph or more. You can see from the statistics that this site that the KSI rate had a high mean for years and then fell after the installation of the speed camera and stayed low.

      The problem with the popular use of RTM as an argument against the deployment of speed cameras is that whatever the argument and whatever side they are on most people want a "one size fits all" argument and that's why the anti-lobby like RTM. They think that the will win the argument by shouting RTM everytime somebody presents statistics that seem to support speed cameras as a road safety measure.

      These days local authorities like to talk about "self enforcing" speed limits. This is where such things as speed humps, chicanes, mini roundabouts and other traffic calming measures force drivers to travel slowly. The problem here can be twofold; firstly that some of these measures can lead to traffic congestion when volumes get too high; and secondly that these measures can lead to a significant increase in damage only accidents. Since they don't directly cost the local authority an increase in such accidents may not seem to be a problem for the LA, but there can be indirect costs such as those incurred by traffic congestion caused by these incidents.

      Oh and KSI accidents as a measure are flawed, because of the way KSI are recorded. If somebody is killed then obviously the "K" bit is fulfilled. However the "SI" bit is not so clean cut. A serious injury is considered to be anything requiring a visit to hospital. If you've ever been involved in an accident where the emergency services have been called you will know that you are advised to attend hospital for seemingly minor injury. This is an arse covering excercise, but it skews the statistics badly. Furthermore the compensation culture means mor people will visit hospitals after an accident. These hospitalisations are seldom followed up so the statistics don't truly represent accidents causing serious injuries. Again this can have an effect on the speed camera statistics, it doesn't take many visits to causualty for bumps and bruises before it looks like a particular site is very dangerous, when in fact it isn't.

      Not only do people using the RTM argument not understand statistics, nor do the people collecting the statistics. If statistics do not clearly reflect reality they are no use at all.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's needed

    What's needed is a way to make it much easier not to break speed limits: some kind of automatic cruise control included by law in all new vehicles. Once this has been implemented, people who break the speed limit can then be given huge fines, at least after the first or second time, and that way speed limits can be actually enforced. The trouble with the current system is that lots of people are paying fines because they accidentally broke a speed limit while driving safely, and this makes people very annoyed and thus makes it politically difficult to enforce the speed limits properly.

    (Several members of my family have been caught by speed cameras; none of them was deliberately speeding. I have broken speed limits by accident on several occasions, too, though I haven't yet been caught. I went through a red light the other day due to being a dopey idiot. I think I'm probably too intelligent to copy with such a boring task as driving safely ... :-)

  40. Citizen Kaned

    vroooooooooooooom

    a part of the company i work for used to specialise in retexturing roads. basically they had a lorry than drove down a road, and added texture back into the tarmac, that basically got all full of melted rubber etc.

    could we sell this tech to local councils? its 10x cheaper than resurfacing the roads, and you get a better grip. nope, the thing is they are all in bed with the people selling the roads.

    you could retexture 10x more roads for the same budget yet they werent interested. oh, and its much quicker than resurfacing too.

    you can very quickly sort out a dodgy bend or a stretch with poor grip or even reverse cambers. many of these affect the safety of roads too, yet nobody seems clued up enough to worry about it. they dont care about safety, they care about the backhanders and added finace from cameras.

    also, remember that every year there are more and more drivers. so an accident spot with 10 crashes 10 years ago might actually have 20% more traffic today, yet they only look and see how many accidents, not how many per populace etc.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Speed cameras noticed me speeding almost every day...

    Unfortunately, I didn't have number plates on my bicycle.

    Any athletic cyclist worth his muscles can always outrun car in a city.

  42. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    Confused

    Why is it so many hate the speed cameras?

  43. stuwaldy
    Thumb Up

    Speed reduction plan

    They can just try the method of speed reduction that Bolton Council seem to be trialling. The plan is to let every road be a patchwork of potholes and raised ironworks that mean if you attempt any reasonable sort of speed then your car is rendered inoperable within a few hundred yards. It's a very cost effective and possibly green solution as the old cars will get replaced by newer and by design more efficient ones - they may even get a grant from the EU to do feck all to the roads.

  44. DaveB

    Swindon still likes its mobile speed traps

    Last year the speed limit on our local road was dropped from 40mph to 30mph despite there having been no accidents on this stretch of road recorded.

    The reason was to protect children walking to school, thats fair, but they changed the limit about three months before knocking down the school.

    Now, because of the hill into town every week we see a mobile speed camera setup on a motorbike which is part of the Swindon camera partnership.

    In fact these guys appear to be getting very good at finding target rich environments for speeding motorists.

  45. OffBeatMammal

    No fixed cameras where we live...

    ... but they do stick up the radar activated billboards that show you how fast you're going around the place (sometimes with a copper half a mile down the road) and every morning regular as clockwork there's a couple of coppers on bikes with handheld speed guns outside the schools and at troublesome junctions picking off the idiots

    In the 3 years we've been living here it's interesting to see that some of the junctions where there have been crashes or repeated speeding offences that roadworks often come along and fix the line of sight, adjust the camber or put in traffic calming measures and then the cops move on to a new problem

    The best new traffic calming measure we've got... roundabouts! We had a grand total of two in the state before this year and they were almost tourist attractions they were so novel (and they have signs warning motorists about them and how to get round them for a mile leading up to them!) ... now in our village they have put in three and traffic has been so calms you'd think they're spraying something in the air! It'll only last until everyone is used to them though.

    The one think the yanks have got that makes driving more fun than in the Britain I remember is the 4-way-stop / turn-right-on-red concept... for the formers no-one has right of way, it's the person who arrives at the white line first (and all the wheels have to come to a complete stop) so it's self calming and means that when a traffic light breaks down people simple fall back to that behaviour and traffic flows. The second makes it legal to turn right as a red light (remember we drive on the wrong side of the road here so it would need reversing to work as intended!) provided that there is no traffic on the main road. While this one is more prone to abuse by selfish drivers it can really help the flow

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cameras make money

    I did see a newspaper article a few years ago that claimed the total profit from the cameras nationally that year was £73M and that the treasury was going to take just £7M of that and allow the rest to be re-invested in road safety.

    I've never looked at the companies house web site to try and find out, but I suspect the directors and others due dividends from any monies like this are all related to the recently departed London based criminal gang rather than the new one. Therefore this particular human battery-farming method gets cut.

  47. Chris Green
    Thumb Up

    Drive well, drive safe

    I've witnessed no accident caused by speeding. I've seen near misses caused by (a) driving too close (b) distracted drivers (phones/food/fags/family) (c) sudden unpredictable driving changes (d) lack of indication (e) the slow lane creep of the drowsy/sleepers (f) idiotic maneuvers (g) lack of consideration to weather conditions.

    I'll grant you that going faster reduces your ability to cope with other peoples mistakes, but a blanket limit is counter productive because wherever the driver feels it's unnecessary, it's disregarded and that reaction is easily extended to the point where there's no respect for the rule, in a place where it's actually extremely appropriate.

    I've followed many drivers that stick to the 60 limit on the open road and then refuse to drop below 40 in 30 limits. I'd rather see 70+ mph on the open road (with care) than 40mph in a village/town, where vulnerable pedestrians are much more common and where road hazards abound.

    Thrashing the bad boy when caught, does not enforce the rule, nor (more importantly) engender appropriate behavior in future. More often than not, it encourages worse behavior.

    It does, however, tax the relationship between the individual and law makers/enforcers.

    Teach better driving habits, not compliance and reward those that excel.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh dear.

      Whether speeding causes accidents is irrelevant and nobody other than BRAKE seems to be claiming that it does. The problem is that a small increase in speed can increase the serverity of the accident disproportionately. If you don't understand that you have no place either in this debate or driving a car.

      In certain circumstances excess speed can cause an accident, I can think of one near me involving a T5 with pretty blue lights on the roof. 40 limit on a seemingly safe semi rural road, plod (not attending an emergency) takes a blind crest at about 70. The blind crest happens also to be a bend. T5 goes through the hedge.

    2. Peter Johnstone
      Stop

      @offbeatmammal

      I'm not in favour of the turn right on red concept; I'm in China at the moment on holiday where a turn right on red system is in use. Here, it makes crossing the road difficult as when the green man is lit, you still need to watch out for cars turning right. In China the onus seems to be on the pedestrian to get out the way. Might be good for traffic flow, not do good for saftey.

    3. Peter Johnstone

      @stuwaldy

      Edinburgh Council are also trialling that one. Only problem is that it isn't really that green; Cars will get better MPG on good surfaces therefore fewer emissions and potholes can be a real danger to cyclists. I was felled by a pothole in Edinburgh a few years back - Lucky there was no traffic behind me or I could have been run over.

  48. Atonnis
    Stop

    Looking ahead...

    I'm not so bothered about switching off the cameras...what worries me is that the newly revamped police force is going to end up spending it's time lurking at random spots trying to catch people out.

    Speed cameras are/were a good deterrent and speed control device in areas where there could be alot of mad racing, the A217 is a good example. Now we'll end up with a bunch of 'vulture' police pulling people off of roads and fining them instead.

    The good thing about speed cameras is that they meant that police weren't hassling us all so much. Whenever there's a police van at the side of the road it causes panic and flustering whilst drivers all slam their brakes on, which causes traffic jams further back. Speed cameras were good control instead of money-making police who really do have better things to do.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Money spinners?

    From the interview on R4 this morning then it is the case that these cameras "make money" - the problem is that the costs are incurred by the council but the revenue goes (via the courts) to central government, Councils were happy to put up camera when they received grants from central government to do this .... but now these grants are being cut they only see the costs and are deciding that this is one of the least unpopular things to cut. Of course, as the interviewer commented, this does leave central government with the problem of a reduced revenue stream from camera fines.

    For road safety then perhaps a move back to having more mobile speed checks so people can't rely on their satnavs telling them when to suddenly brake will produce better results!

  50. Matt J

    Whether you like them or not...

    ...logically, you can't argue with them - there is a speed limit, which is the law; if you go faster than this limit then you are breaking the law - and if you do it in front of a day-glo orange box, with warning signs and markings on the road, then you are a stupid law-breaker!

    I personally don't mind the government making money from stupid law-breakers - beats taxes!

  51. Peter Young
    Pirate

    licence to speed

    It's going to be a bit hard on the poor so and sos who get mown down by all the idiots who think that they now have free licence to drive as fast as they like. It's quite simple, the law states what the speed limit is and drivers must obey it. All the rubbish about having to watch your speedo all the time and being a much better driver than the rest of us is just a load of b****. You can't pick and choose which laws you will obey and which you will ignore. If you can't manage to drive within the limit then get off the road and then the rest of us can be a lot safer.

  52. Graham Marsden

    "we would really be risking people's lives"

    Or, more importantly, it would be risking the Safety Camera Partnership's Boss' livelihoods...

    Unfortunately I can't find a reference for it at the moment, but I'm pretty sure I've seen a report saying that those Radar Controlled signs that flash 30mph if you approach them too fast are, apparently, more effective than Cameras for actually getting people to slow down because they're not an attempt to raise revenue, so they get more respect from road users.

  53. Tigra 07 Silver badge

    confused

    Why is it so many people hate the cameras?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Road robbers.

      "Why is it so many people hate the cameras?"

      Typical camera location: 60mph four-lane road, steep downhill, camera at the bottom with 30mph speed limit. Or, if local councl is generous, 40mph.

      No reason whatsoever for the camera nor the speed limit. Except of course stealing money from unprepared driver.

      Camera is a modern version of road robber and it has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with money, ie. stealing.

      Road robbers are generally hated, at all times and everywhere.

      1. Dan Herd
        FAIL

        "unprepared driver"

        Nuff said.

    2. captain veg

      non-monetary enforcement

      In Spain I've seen radars connected to traffic lights. Pass the radar at >50kmh, the next set of lights turn red, you must stop. It controls speed very effectively, and no one can accuse the authorities of money grubbing.

      -A.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Greedy bastards

    "road safety partnerships" says it all.

    In plain English: Organizations who survive by "safety" welfare are whining extremely loud when their budgets are cut.

    So called safety is meaningless to these people, money is important.

  55. willowtoo

    Hmmm

    I am growing weary of drivers telling me they are all so much better than me.

    I know that I make mistakes when driving. I don't always pay full attention, I sometimes drive when I am tired, angry, sick and all those other things that perfect drivers don't do.

    I find it next to impossible to know exactly how fast I am going. I can't do the math, well I could but I can't be bothered, but I think my car can change speed by 5 mph in about 0.5s if I try at all hard. Literally, blink and you miss 2 mph.

    Car speedos can, and often do, over indicate by about 5 mph.

    In reality few people can judge speed really accurately. A wide vista makes the speed seem less, a narrow gap will seem faster.

    Speed cameras, and the police make allowances and the speedos indicate high. Anyone caught by a 30 mph camera probably had an indicated 35+. OK, sweeping generalisation, but there is a bit of a gap between creeping above the limit and getting a ticket.

    So far, so reasonable.

    The damage to the image of cameras was really done for me by the change to the rules for setting speed limits. Traditionally speed limits were set by the 85% rule ( Google it ) and this meant the limits were generally reasonable. Now the limits can be set artificially low for political reasons, which goes some way to explain why drivers are abruptly slowing for cameras. They are driving at the "natural" speed for the road, which is probably no more dangerous than the 40 mph that has been artificially imposed.

    As for those who think they can safely exceed the limits. I presume they never drive when they are tired, angry, sick or whatever and don't make mistakes.

    Which, finally, brings me to my point about the drivers who say they never break the limits, have never had a ticket and have never had an accident.

    A typical driver, like me, will (probably) make hundreds of mistakes before a combination of circumstances leads to an actual accident. The distribution of these mistakes will be nearly random and individual accidents impossible to predict. The location of a speed camera may, or may not, make a difference.

    Whether a driver has an accident contains a large element of chance. When another driver pulled out of a junction directly in front of me and then stopped across both lanes the only reason I didn't hit him was that the road was dry. A rain shower would have left me stuck under a 4x4.

    I think of myself as a mediocre driver yet have 30+ years driving/riding ( cars, bikes, cycles), 1m+ km, no points, no convictions, no claims. Better to be lucky than clever.

  56. Ian Oliver

    I really hope they don't remove them

    There are at least two that make my daily commuter far safer. Doing a right turn when going uphill on a pushbike takes skill and care even when you're doing 20mph and the cars 30mph. Before the speed camera, the cars were doing 50-60mph and it was on the slightly lethal side of hairy.

    Do these particular cameras reduce accident frequency and severity? Probably, yes, but what's beyond doubt is that they reduce traffic speeds and so make the roads less noisy and less intimidating for cyclists and pedestrians.

    Ian

  57. M Gale

    Re: License to speed

    An astoundingly good idea. Think about it for a minute.

    You could have two tests available for a normal and advanced driving license. Yes I know, there is already an "advanced driving license", however this one would be a little different. You would learn how the car handles at speed and how to correct and control skids.. but more importantly, you would be taught both where it is safe, and completely bloody unsafe to speed. You would be taught how individual cars behave, as a 3 series BMW is going to take a corner in an entirely different way to a 1.3l Mark 1 Fiesta. Insert various other tests that you can think of here (off road? Ice and snow?)

    The point is, that anybody who has passed this test can then treat the national speed limit as being "as fast as your car can safely handle for the condition of the road". Maybe a few other perks for people who've gone through the bother and financial outlay of the lessons and tests required. Lower insurance premium perhaps? As for how police can tell whether someone has passed the advanced test or not.. well how do they tell if you've passed the normal test?

    One lovely incentive to learn how to drive better, perhaps?

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