back to article DfT 'unwittingly' bigged-up speed camera benefits

The Department for Transport (DfT) has "unwittingly" misled the public over the benefits of speed cameras for the last four years. That was the shock admission yesterday by a DfT spokeswoman, when finally cornered by the Department’s own research. She also told us that they have finally agreed to put matters right by adding an …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Classic example

    About 5 miles from me speed camera have reduced the death toll and accident by about 80%.

    Or so they will tell you.

    The fact, the reduced the speed limit by 20mph, chnaged sections from a dual carriageway to single, closed ALL the central reservations except one, increased the length of slip roads by about 50m each, clealry had no effect on this.

    I'm not anti speed camera, but they should be in logical places (nr schools (during term time), parks, nr shops etc).

    Yes I got done by one, for doing 60 (in a 50) on an empty strech of road on a clear sunday evening, with only the odd other car coming the other way, whilst in a sports car. I could easily done 130mph and not been a risk to myself or others

    No doubt there are lots of accidents at 8am / 6pm mon-fri on wet december days to justify it.

    But the moral of the story is boys and girls is, feel free to drive like a twat, just don't speed!

  2. envmod
    Grenade

    danger?

    i think that with the whole speed camera issue, there is a hidden danger. i don't believe speed cameras make much difference to road safety, but they are very prominent and often in the press etc. people hate them as a general rule.

    if we now suddenly get rid of a lot (or all) of them, some people will undoubtedly speed in areas where they used to be simply because they can now get away with it. i think we will see an increase in accidents in the immediate few months after speed cameras are decommissioned.

    had they never been introduced in the first place, the rate of accidents would still be around the same as it is today and we would not face the problem of removing them and creating temptation to speed simply because the camera is not there any more.

    when will politicians learn that prohibition of anything, banning things and not trusting people's own judgement only creates more problems than it solves? this has been proven time and time again, yet still the people in power like to think they know better than everyone else and need to dictate how people "should" go about living their lives.

    fucking idiots.

  3. Tony Pottrell
    FAIL

    Swindon

    A recent BBC article on this topic referred to Swindon council's decision to remove all of their speed cameras, save those at known blackspots. Although it's still a bit too early to say for sure, they did give this quote:

    "A spokesman for Swindon council says that in the first six months after the cameras were switched off accident numbers across their sites "remained the same"."

    Suggesting that Speed Cameras have a neglible impact on accidents, at best :)

    1. bob 46

      switched off, not removed

      I am no advocate of speed cameras (quite the opposite), but the fact that the speed cameras were switched off wouldn't make any difference to the way most drivers react when seeing one, as there is no outward sign it is switched off (unless it is "bagged" as well)

      the release would better support the theory that spped cameras do little for safety if they were removed altogether

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Bagged up

        Was driving through Swindon today - speed cameras there but covered in large sacks. Unlike Cheltenham where they had a speed camera van sitting by the side of the road at 9pm

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Swindon?

      Swindon was kind of a misleading story. "Council Switches Off All Speed Cameras" was the sort of headline most of the media lead with, but since the LA in question only had about half a dozen speed cameras on it's turf the story wasn't quite so impressive as the headline.

    3. Ross 7

      NOOOOOOOO!

      I knew someone would misquote that report. You got two things right - they bagged the cameras, and accidents stayed approximately the same. However you missed out one rather important fact - they installed speed bumps etc.

      In other words, speed bumps are as effective as cameras, OR, speed cameras are as effective as speed bumps (and other engineering work).

      So, given that we know that accidents are reduced by approx 20% by engineering or cameras, do we want engineering or cameras, or are we happy with people being injured or killed when some of them need not necessarily be? If we do want to take measures to reduce speed do we want engineering or cameras?

      Engineering is good in that it *forces* you to slow down (except for those stupid spilt bumps that any decent sized car fits easily around) although it can also damage your car even when driving slowly. Cameras are good in that paying out money is a proven disincentive to do many things, but you get the 'tards that slow down to 20 mph under the limit for no obvious reason.

      I personally think they should have a mix, and hide all the cameras thereby solving the idiots overbreaking issue. Plus you don't get ppl speeding because there's no engineering to prevent it and no visible cameras to deter it. Plus cameras make money, which can be ringfenced for engineering. Bonus!

      In anticipation of the ppl with a sub 80 IQ stating "but I only speed when it's safe and I shouldn't be penalised" - lolz.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Slowing right down

        People slow to well under the speed limit when it's not obvious what the speed limit is. Ideally it should be displayed near the cameras, if not on them.

      2. breakfast

        The problem with speedbumps

        Speedbumps seem like a good idea until you have some broken bones in your body and have to travel down a road with them on. Having just gone through this experience I'm now a much bigger fan of speed cameras.

        I don't really see the big deal about speed cameras. If people don't want to drive within the law then why don't they just hand in their driving licenses? "Drive on the road and work within some rules" is a pretty simple deal, it's strange to me that so many people get confused by it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          No right solution...

          I agree about speed bumps being a pain (literally!). However, given the unique way these 'safety' features are funded balanced against the pitiful state of road maintenance these days, they may as well not bother with speed bumps - potholes seem to work just as well, even if they are a little more haphazard. Amusingly, I've seen a few speed bump equipped roads where the speed bump is the only surface in good condition.

          Speed cameras have a bad reputation because of poor implementation and legislation. There are too many, in blatant revenue earning locations (wrapped in self-justifying 'policies'). They have been used as an excuse to reduce traffic patrols by the police (I ain't seen a camera administer first aid at an accident). Plus they don't sit well with the current fining/points system - a straight fines system combined with a flat 'go 20mph above the limit, lose your license' approach would be more effective (both revenue wise and deterrence wise).

          They are a distraction as drivers spend more time looking for cameras than actually looking what they are doing - hidden ones doubly so. I wonder what the stats are for fender-bender accidents in camera locations, or in the surrounding vicinity - they don't seem to publish those.

          I question the value of either solution in the grand scheme of things (especially through routes), but do see some valuable use in places where low speed is critical (outside schools, most residential streets).

          Harsher penalties, stricter driving tests (maybe limited to only a couple of attempts, instead of letting half-wits try a dozen times), maybe a re-assessment every so many years, and an increase in the minimum age would improve driver discipline to the point where eliminating these expensive engineering and technical solutions is possible.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Who cares

          "I don't really see the big deal about speed cameras. If people don't want to drive within the law then why don't they just hand in their driving licenses? "Drive on the road and work within some rules" is a pretty simple deal, it's strange to me that so many people get confused by it."

          Because a lot of us don't care. We want the freedom to drive at the speeds we think are appropriate (we are adults after all and not dribbling morons) without having to pay £60 for going 35 where the man says it should be 30!

          It doesn't really make any difference at the end of the day. The vast majority of us drive at 80 or 85mph on the motorway and 35 mph round town, where we think it is appropriate to, slowing down for speed cameras and then speeding up, with no consequences and with nobody getting hurt.

      3. Sarev

        Not this old chestnut again...

        Hmm. The only IQ that is suspect here is yours. Given that in other locations on the globe it is perfectly acceptable to drive at speeds beyond the highest posted speed limit found here in the UK (on the right road, of course) then clearly speed limits can some times appear to be rather arbitrary - and unsurprisingly, they mostly are.

        Smart people spot this incongruity and indeed find it irritating. Is there something about the laws of physics in the UK which makes it unsafe to drive over 70 mph on an empty motorway, for example?

        The bottom line is that laws which force a behaviour change upon any right-thinking person should always cause at least some reflection. And if we decide to break those laws, so be it. We know the risks. Only sheeple such as yourself would blindly obey any and all dictat from above.

        1. Ross 7

          *sigh* @ Sarev

          Other ppl do it so why can't I? Great argument there!

          Nothing wrong with driving at 80mph on an empty motorway, but how do you *know* it's empty, without the slightest possible doubt? You don't ofc. You *think* it's empty, like those ppl that *thought* there was nobody coming the other way.

          The speed limits are there to limit the devastation that unfolds when someone ****s up as they inevitably will. Until we're all perfect drivers then we need speed limits. You can argue all you like about what they are, but that they don.t apply to you? Do grow up.

          "And if we decide to break those laws, so be it. We know the risks"

          Great, so *you* decide to take a risk by speeding and someone else dies. Nice. You don;t have the right in law or morals to risk someone elses well being. That's the issue that escapes your massive IQ. Integer overflow ftl eh?

          1. Seb123
            FAIL

            Huh?

            The point that you seem to miss with your "driving at 70mph is safe, driving at 71mph+ = death" argument is the fact that the UK speed limits were created back in the day when cars were rather more rudimentary and had much longer braking distances. Perhaps it's time for the UK to move forward?

            The speed limits were created back in 1965 when your typical Ford Anglia had a top speed of 85mph and rather shoddy brakes. Research shows that most drivers on the UK motorways drive at 85mph and yet the motorways are, by far, the safest roads. Perhaps your "speeding is evil" argument needs to be rethought with some 21st century facts and good old common sense?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Sarez

          Insulting people will not win your argument, having said that you appear to be a complete numbskull.

          Implying that smart people find speed limits irritating and that those who obey them must be mindless government drones is a rather over simplistic view often put by people who think they are above laws they don't like.

          I personally might or might not agree or abide with speed limits or any number of other restrictions but that doesn't make me any smarter or less so than the next person. As it stands speed limits are applicable to everybody for whatever reason and just thinking you are smart is not sufficient reason for exceeding those limits. That should be easy enough to understand.

          1. Veldan
            Go

            um... guys

            @ Chris W. Get your head out of your rear end. He only replied about intelligence because of the poster before him saying people who choose to speed have a low IQ. Or was that too hard for you to comprehend?

            @ Ross.

            "but how do you *know* it's empty, without the slightest possible doubt?"

            How do you know without the slightest doubt that you won't be hit by a falling anvil when you exit your house? You don't!

            Sorry, but ripping someones argument apart then giving a similarly flawed argument in response is just silly.

            People accept the risks they take every day. By driving you accept that you may be wiped out by someone who chose to speed. It's up to the individual to decide if that risk is worthwhile to them. Speeders risk hurting themselves and others and facing the penalties for that. Regular drivers accept the fact they may be wiped out by speeders.

            Fact remains that in MANY countries people drive a LOT faster and have better safety records. Germany is pretty good example (could be the better training they receive).

            This makes some people willing to take the risk to speed.

            A law that makes no sense is a law that people will disobey. Doesn't matter how hard you shake your finger.

            1. James Smith 3
              FAIL

              Germany is pretty good example

              Wrong. http://www.unece.org/trans/main/wp6/pdfdocs/RAS_2007.pdf

              Check pages 29 vs 44 for Gemany and UK accident counts. As a percent of motorway accidents vs total accidents (for 2003):

              Germany = 22646 / 354534 = 6.4%

              UK = 8746 / 214030 = 4.1%

              and for fatal motorway accidents it's worse again:

              Germany = 811 / 6613 = 12%

              UK = 217 / 3508 = 6%

              So Germany has a 56% higher proportion of motorway accidents and a much higher fatality rate. That's NOT a better safety record.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                And

                you also need to compare the number of miles of motorway and the number of journey miles on those motorways if you want to do a true comparison.

            2. BlackMage
              Stop

              Um... Really?

              "Regular drivers accept the fact they may be wiped out by speeders."

              Really? Of all the dangerous behaviour on the roads I see every day, virtually none of it is speed related. Most of it is simple incompetence or rank stupidity from people who simply shouldn't be on the road.

              I accept that I face a substantial risk that I'll get wiped out by another driver but it'll be some clown rounding a blind bend in the middle of the road, joining a motorway well below traffic speed, failing to see my not inconspicuous family saloon and pulling out of a side road in front of me or simply not using mirrors and sideswiping me on a dual carriageway or roundabout.

              No cameras, speed bumps or anything else will get these people off the road. We need a return to properly trained traffic police with discretion who can tell the difference between those driving dangerously and those driving quickly.

        3. James Smith 3
          FAIL

          Something about the laws of physics....?

          Well, yes actually. 70mph is around the kind of speed where aerodynamic effects start to play a role in the car's handling. A car is effectively a crude aerofoil shape: flat on the bottom and curved over the top. This can generate lift and reduces the amount of lateral forces the tyres can generate to steer the car or keep it stable. Empty motorway or not.

          80 mph. Ok not too bad, but imagine with a 30mph headwind...effectively 110mph. Mark Webber knows lots about this after launching into the trees at Le Mans one year caused by lift forces! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow3rxq7U1mA

          Now there's now real chance of having an accident like that in a road car, but less grip doesn't help your chances of keeping it on the black stuff, especially if it's wet.

          But of course, you knew all that. You're not just bombing down the M4 at 90mph on a windy day in the rain, completely oblivious to the possible dangers. No, not all.

          And don't start talking about how it's fine to do whatever speed you want in Germany. Their accident rate is far higher as a result.

        4. Real Ale is Best
          FAIL

          Engineering

          "Smart people spot this incongruity and indeed find it irritating. Is there something about the laws of physics in the UK which makes it unsafe to drive over 70 mph on an empty motorway, for example?"

          Actually, yes there is. The safety features, barriers, design of corners, etc. are designed around 70mph being the maximum speed. Thus if you hit a barrier because you have a blow out, and are travelling at that speed, it is unlikely that you will penetrate the barrier and end up in the path of oncoming traffic.

          Travelling faster increases the chances of the barrier failing.

          So, yes, there is something about the laws of physics that mean that its unsafe to travel faster than 70mph.

          1. Adam 10
            Thumb Down

            @ Real Ale

            Mr Real Ale. Whilst I agree with your user ID, I disagree with some of your arguments here.

            Motorway barriers are generally placed (in my experience, at least) either side of the carriageways. The difference in lateral momentum between a blow-out at 70mph and a blow-out at 100mph is minor. The momentum of a car at 100mph is also significantly less than a 44-tonne truck travelling at a legal 56mph. Obviously, if they started putting barriers across the motorways then the difference in speed would become significant , mostly down to stopping distances though (at what distance should these lateral barriers be visible?)

            Additionally, the engineered design-speed of motorways in the UK is, and always has been (since the very first miles were opened up over half a century ago) 100mph. That is why cars don't fly off the motorway at every corner, even though they are mostly driving at over 70mph.

            The 70mph limit was chosen as this was about as fast as a typical car could go in the early 60s, with 50bhp, drum brakes and cross-ply tyres, and this would reduce the speed differential from the Aston Martins and Jags who were burning up and down at 150+ to a more manageable amount.

            The problem of lift at high speeds exists with SOME cars, mostly due to poorly-designed cooling air flow (the MG TF, for instance, exhausts cooling air underneath the front subframe and thus tends to become nose-light at about 120mph but will still take UK motorway corners at 140mph albeit less confidently). However the earlier poster forgets the venturi effect that is also present at the low altitude of a car's underside, which tends to suck the car down on to the road surface, and also the downforce generated by other body components (the bonnet, and rear spoiler if present).

            1. James Smith 3

              Some figures

              @Suspicious Git. Yup, miles travelled is relevant. Surprised you didn't go and look. From the same EU source as above:

              Germany 6613 fatal accidents / 682161 million km = 9.69 fatal accidents per 1000 million km

              UK 3508 fatal accidents / 503318 million km = 6.97 fatal accidents per 1000 million km

              _Still_ not safer.

              @Adam 10. Yes. Some cars have more problems with lift at high speeds, but lift is still an issue for everyone else. From "Competition Car Aerodynamics" by Simon McBeath, p44. Production cars which do not carry airdams and spoilers generate around 70 - 80kg of lift at 100mph. That's net of any downforce generated. Ok, maybe that's not as big an effect as I was expecting, but my point is that once you start travelling faster than 70mph, the aerodynamic effects start to become increasing relevant, and the more you'll rely on the car's aerodynamics to keep the car under control. We not talking about motorway corners here... Imagine an emergency lane change at over 100mph? Or some oil on the road? As most people think that spoilers generate downforce (they don't, they reduce lift) I'm not confident that the average UK driver has the necessary knowledge and skills. They just _think _ they do.

              As for high speed blowouts... this one's a classic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Naa3qhFUlUE

              1. James Smith 3
                Coat

                Apologies

                @Suspicious Git: Actually I have to apologise. In turns out that Germany has 4 times as much autobahn as the UK has motorway. That makes the accident rates pretty much the same.

                On relfection, looks like I should concede the aerodynamics point as well. The effect isn't significant enough to argue against raising the limit by 10-20 mph. And the motorway design should cope without any trouble.

                Let's go for it. 80mph for the win! That's what everyone is doing anyway.

                Mines the one with humble pie recipe in the pocket.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      @I got done by one, for doing 60 (in a 50)

      And?

      You broke the law. You knew you were breaking the law. Serves you right.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        @ AC 20:04

        Laws are only relevant when the majority of the people accept them as such. If the law's an arse, people will ignore it. The non-payment of "Hat tax" of recent centuries for one.

        The point made is that speed limits are there to protect you...IF the limits are relevant. Whacking on a 30mph on a 3 lane motorway, with no obvious hazards is just gonna piss people off and they will ignore it.

        And quit with the holier-than-thou trolling; you've sped in your driving life without killing anyone I guarantee it, so don't judge others so hypocritically.

    5. Ministry of Truth

      By any chance the...

      A491?

      Why don't we stop wasting road fund license, and petrol duty etc, on propping up the expenses of the state, and instead spend it on getting a world class road network which isn't riddled with sink holes and craters?

      A decent road surface that would enable cars to brake more effectively would be worth all the speed cameras in the UK.

      Removing adverse camber would go a long way too.

      Clearing blind spots and improving visibility...

      That sort of stuff.

      Speed cameras are a source of revenue, it's just the cash they generated wasn't spent on maintaining them.

      Spending all the money in the world on road speed punishment devices is never going to eliminate accidents, until they invent an "idiot camera" or something which picks up on those pricks who chug along in their 4x4s on the phone and utterly oblivious to the world.

      On many motorways the probablility of having an accident is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend on it. That would actually indicate that going faster would reduce your risk of an accident....?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not Quite

      "i think that with the whole speed camera issue, there is a hidden danger. i don't believe speed cameras make much difference to road safety, but they are very prominent and often in the press etc. people hate them as a general rule."

      Read your local paper for a few weeks and you will see something interesting. Every time a road safety issue crops up (you know the sort of thing, dangerous road near a school, playground or park) you will see that the campaigners are demanding speed cameras.

      As a general rule people are opposed to speed cameras on the routes that they regularly travel, but are in favour of them near their homes. I supposed you could call it the IMBY principal.

      The whole issue that started this particular debate is that the published statistics were not accurate. The problem is that they could never be accurate. Speed cameras are generally introduced as a package of measures aimed at improving road safety, so how can you measure the efficacy of the speed cameras?

      The government muddied the debate even further a few years back. Remember when the government announced that some naughty safety partnerships had been applying the rules incorrectly in order to install cameras? And that there concern was that these partnerships were doing it in order to make money. A big chunk of the media went bananas claiming that the government were admitting that the cameras were nothing more than a stealth tax. Except they were doing no such thing, or at least not in the way the media thought. If the problem was as the government described then the simple solution would be for the government to authorize every decision to install a camera, that way they could police the alleged fiddling of figures. The solution they implemented was to take the revenue from the cameras away from the safety partnerships and feed it straight into the treasury. So what the government really did was realise that they could get the safety partnerships to pay for the installation and operation of the cameras while the treasury got the revenue. They were not concerned about dodgy cameras at all.

      Why did this muddy the waters? Because most people noticed the original headlines about the review, but by the time the "solution" was implemented the media had lost interest and the "solution" didn't make for big banner headlines in the red tops anyway. So people recall that the government said speed cameras were bad, they don't recall (mostly because nobody told them) that the government didn't mean any such thing.

  4. John G Imrie Silver badge

    Change of party in controll

    and all sorts of things fall out of the woodwork :-)

    1. MichaelBirks
      Happy

      And other stuff gets swept under the carpet.

      One imagines a sort of conveyor in the floor and walls that takes what one administration sweeps under the rug, and positions it ready to fall out of the woodwork under the next administration.

    2. Maclovin

      Change of party in control?

      Probably worth remembering that speed cameras were introduced in the UK in 1992, under John Major's conservative government.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You just can trust the English anymore

    Even our own government lies through their teeth and get away with it. Respect = GONE!

    This totally shames the pro-camera lot.

    Maybe we should stop listening to knee jerk reactionists, and apply some common sense. (Haha haha like common sense exists in this country!)

    Every other mini-hitlers out their need to take note.

  6. PirateSlayer
    Coat

    Evil fibbers!

    A reduction of 21% in road deaths is completely trivial when compared with the trauma of an average motorist being required to obey the law for about 20 metres. Get rid of them all!

    Mine's the reflective one you'll see overtaking a transit parked on double yellow lines next to a crossroads with the mopey bastard sitting on my back wheel trying to get as close as possible before clipping me with his wing mirror as he overtakes.

    Sigh.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Alert

      Dont agree...

      I dont really understand how you can say this shames the pro-camera lot. It shames the DfT for absolute certain, but where else would the pro camera lot go to get there facts?

      If i want facts about people dying in hospitals i would go to the NHS. And if the figures they tell me and release to the public state something that backs my argument of course im going to use them. If it turns out the NHS has been lying in its figures, well thats hardly my fault, is it?

      Speed cameras can be very beneficial when used correctly but i think we all realise that the vast majority of speed cameras in the UK are not used properly and are only used as cash cows. So, its time to say "So long and Good riddance to dodgy speed camera usage"...

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Shaming the DfT

        Doesn't it also reflect rather badly on the Office for Government Statistics? I thought they had some sort of oversight in these matters, and the speed camera stats were certainly controversial enough to warrant an investigation.

        If I've mis-understood the OGS's role, then perhaps there *should* be a body charged with making sure that government stats stand up to scrutiny.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Next village to me two of them have been spectacularly torched.

    Oh I was so upset I nearly plotzed with laughter!

    I wish I knew who it was .....so I could buy them a can of petrol and some matches and a map of locations!

    1. Matthew 3

      If you like torched cameras...

      ...do a quich search for the TufTuf club. They're a Dutch group who used to blow them up. I gather that they would even spray them pink beforehand to give the police a chance to catch them!

      JC* himself evangelised their works in one of his sermons to the masses.

      *no, not /that/ JC: it was Jeremy Clarkson.

  8. David Lawrence
    Go

    I still think they are a good idea

    They take pictures of people who break the speed limit, so they can be prosecuted.

    They can hide them in pillar boxes for all I care (apparently they do in other countries). Double the fines and ban the drivers I say.

    It is, after all an entirely voluntary scheme, where everyone has the option of not speeding if they wish to avoid the punishment.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      bet you think the eCRB checks were a good idea as well

      I do concede they do have their place for enforcement but then again enforcement hasn't worked..... not all societies ills can be cured by computers, camera's and databases.

      my local school has ramps on the road outside.. most people avoid that road like the plague. Much more effective IMHO

    2. Graham Marsden
      Stop

      Oh dear, here we go again...

      Firstly let me say that I have *NO PROBLEM* with cameras *WHERE THEY ARE ACTUALLY NEEDED*, but many of the rules on where they are placed are nonsense and bring the whole system into disrepute because all that happens is that drivers slow down for the camera, then speed up once they're past it.

      Hiding them just makes the situation worse and still does *nothing* for dealing with people who drive in an irresponsible manner, using mobiles, failing to indicate or look before turning or changing lanes, tailgate, don't make proper observation at junctions and all the other things which *really* add to the dangers of being on the road.

      I'm sure I've read a report which said that the radar-controlled signs that flash 30mph if you're approaching them too fast have been much more successful in reducing speeds, but I have been unable to track it down, so if anyone knows where I can find it, I'd be most grateful.

    3. simon 43
      Alert

      @David Lawrence

      I don't think the majority of drivers object to cameras being used to catch those who are endangering other road users, unfortunately the ones we're discussing here don't have that level of discrimination. As was said in an earlier reply, the time of day, weather and traffic conditions play a major factor in the likelyhood of a collision occurring - just because the limit on the Motorway is 70Mph doesn't mean you should use that speed in a torrential downpour.

      The "speed" (not "safety") cameras simply operate in your simpified mode, either you're over or under a set speed - that in itself does not equate to increased safety - they do not 'catch' drivers who cause accidents through poor standards or plain stupid acts of driving.

      I've not been 'caught' by one of these or the average speed cameras, but then I try to ensure that I observe the limits - even if some of them seem quite unjustified. What I'd prefer to see is a reduction in the camera numbers but a hefty increase in the number of traffic patrols which *can* tell the difference between a 'dangerous' driver and one who makes 'rapid progress'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Graham Marsden

        >whole system into disrepute because all that happens is that drivers slow down for the camera, then speed up once they're past it.

        Think about what you wrote then ask yourself why do drivers slow down when they see a speed camera. There are two possibilites. 1.) They are already driving above the speed limit and then brake sharply when they see a camera or 2.) They are unaware of the speed limit on the road they are driving and so slow down just in case.

        If those drivers weren't breaking the law already or were aware, as they should be, of the speed limit then they wouldn't need to slow down when they see a speed camera..

        Because there are a million and one other things that are bad practices does not mean that drivers who break speed limits are above the law. As David Lawrence wrote, nobody is forcing drivers to disobey speed limits, it's their decision, if they get caught then they should accept it.

        1. Rasczak
          Thumb Down

          or 3

          <quote>

          Think about what you wrote then ask yourself why do drivers slow down when they see a speed camera. There are two possibilites. 1.) They are already driving above the speed limit and then brake sharply when they see a camera or 2.) They are unaware of the speed limit on the road they are driving and so slow down just in case.

          <\quote>

          3) They are knowingly driving at both a safe and a legal speed (remember just because it is legal does not mean it is safe), and they see a "safety camera", which must mean that this is a dangerous stretch of road, (why else would it be there ?). Taking this into account, they determine that the safe speed must be lower than they are currently travelling, (again just because it is legal doesn't mean it is safe), and slow down accordingly until they are onto the safer stretch and then speed up to a safe speed, still within the limit, for that road.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: or 3

            This case should never occur. If you don't know the road you are traveliing down, which is the only reason you wouldn't know what the road is like beyond the speed camera, then you should already be driving with extra due care and attention. Mainly driving at such a speed that whatever unexpected event occurs in front of you, you have time to react and stop, regardless of posted speed limits.

        2. Juillen 1

          "Should accept it"..

          Excellent straw man. Really.

          Nobody forces anybody to bend any law on the statute books, but I can pretty much guarantee everybody breaks at least one with alarming regularity. However, it's also known that there should be "shades of grey" and that prosecuting some things under certain circumstances are not actually to the benefit of the general public. So, they're not enforced, as there is no benefit to society for doing so. They're there so that when people blatantly abuse the system, you can pull them up and throw the book at them (Tax evasion for Al Capone?).

          The main cause of accidents (from the reports taken) are lack of attention, or dangerous/careless driving. If you got a camera that would spot the lunatics on the roads (you know, the ones that overtake streams of traffic on a bend as they want to arrive somewhere 30 seconds earlier, or travel 10 cm from your rear bumper on the motorway because they want to go at 110mph rather than the 80-85 that most of the traffic is doing), I have the strong suspicion that nobody would bat an eyelid (and many would be strong advocates, with a strong statistical and scientific backing).

          However, it's nice and easy to pick up on one (contributing, not primary causative) aspect, and come down hard on it. If it didn't produce so much revenue, I don't think it'd have taken off quite so much, but it has proven quite the cash cow, despite the placing regulations preventing them being placed in the positions that really cry out for them (you know, where people travel under the speed limit because, in their good judgement, the road simply won't be safe to use at the rated limit). Yes, it's the law, but slavish adherence and turning the world into black and white to justify adherence is really just laziness, or maybe not really understanding the real problems.

        3. Graham Marsden

          @Chris W

          There is a debating fallacy known as the False Dilemma where you present someone with two options 1) and 2) as if they're the only ones available and then imply that they have to pick between the two, ignoring the fact that the correct answer is "neither of the above".

          Let me give you an example. Last night I came back to Portsmouth from London on the A3. As you leave London this piece of road seems to have speed cameras about every half mile and initially a limit of 40mph which then goes up to 50mph.

          Now I'm sure those limits are all sensible and good when the road is chock full of traffic during the day time, but at 2am the road is virtually *EMPTY* and there is absolutely *NO DANGER* in Making Progress along it, but you cannot, simply because of all the bloody cameras.

          So you have a choice: trundle along at 40mph or make progress (illegally, of course) then slow down when there's a camera.

          Which do you do?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Graham

            What a pathetic example. You trundle along at 40 then when permissible at 50 or believe you have a God given right to break the law then pay the fine if you get caught. Also, you could try a different route.

            What's the big deal, obey they law or suffer the consequences. As I and others have pointed out you cannot pick and choose which laws you feel like complying with, if you don't like speed limits do something to have them changed or stick to them. I don't see why so many people find it difficult to understand.

            1. Graham Marsden
              FAIL

              @Chris W

              "What a pathetic example."

              WHOOOSH! (The sound of my point going way over your head)

              Try reading the bit about "False Dilemma" again...

              You might then try looking up "Straw Man" as well.

    4. ChrisC
      Thumb Down

      "They take pictures of people who break the speed limit"

      No, they don't. They take pictures of vehicles which may have broken the speed limit. Slight difference, with potentially major implications for the person listed as the registered keeper for the registration number captured by the camera.

    5. Rasczak
      Thumb Down

      Think ????

      Think about the difference between driving too fast and speeding, clue they are not the same.

      I do believe that ways to prevent people driving too fast are generally a good idea, speed cameras do not necessarily do this.

      Of course you could come back and say that if I think that a speed limit on a road is too low then why don't I do something about getting it raised. Thing is that due to the spurious figures being touted, the only way speed limits will be changed is down, even on roads where there it is obvious that an increase or the status quo is appropriate.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At last, some truth

    Most traffic cameras are not placed at accident blackspots anyway, they seem to be placed exactly where there is maximum discrepancy between the speed limit and the "reasonable speed for the given conditions" - as can be independently gauged by experts, or measured from a large set of drivers.

    I object to the "speed is the only parameter" reductive analysis, driving is primarily about anticipation and awareness, almost all accidents could have been avoided with a bit more of either. Slavish adherence to prescribed legal limits de-skills the process and puts you in a "bubble" of assumed safety, of non-responsibility. It fails when the mantra of "slower is safer" causes bad drivers to creep onto main roads or motorways at a relative speed of minus 30mph - the acceleration lane requires you to match your speed. It would be better if some police resource went into these risky behaviours, as well as others.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Exactly!

      Personally I've long thought the problem is the driving test should be scrapped and replaced with an advanced driving course. That it isn't says so very much about priorities: sell more cars, more petrol and oil, collect more taxes, don't risk losing the vote of those who object to being required to actually be skillful drivers, look for scapegoats instead.

  10. Christoph Silver badge
    Flame

    How many accidents have they directly caused?

    Just how does it improve safety to abruptly wipe out the vision of someone who is driving entirely safely and legally?

    How does it improve safety to force me to drive one-handed on a busy section of road so I can shade my eyes from the camera which has repeatedly fired in my face?

    How does it improve the safety of a massive block of traffic negotiating roadworks in a five-lane wide section of North Circular/M11 in a dark winter evening rush hour to blind the drivers of a large block of cars because one car is speeding in the opposite, nearly empty, carriageway?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The fixed ones never dazzled me

      but I was crossing the N. Circular at Staples Corner once and some guy with a mobile one did!

  11. John G Imrie Silver badge

    I've just had a chilling thaught

    Jeremy Clarkson was right all this time!!!

    1. Velv Silver badge
      Joke

      Quandry....

      I don't know whether to give your post the thumbs up or the thumbs down.

      Such a good post. Such a bad thought

  12. Graham Marsden
    FAIL

    DfT 'witlessly' bigged-up speed camera benefits

    There, fixed it for you!

  13. MonkeyBot

    Accident Blackspots

    I regularly drive up to Lincoln and the mobile speed cameras are all on the long straights and at the bottom of hills. On the other hand, the dodgy corners that often have big skid marks leading to car shaped holes in the hedge have nothing.

    One guess as to which sight has the biggest effect on my driving.

  14. Rolf Howarth

    Discretion

    The problem with speed cameras, and speed limits in general, is that they are far too blunt a mechanism and fail to take into account the circumstances at the time.

    A year or two ago, there were some road works on the motorway near me. An eight mile stretch of road with a 40mph (not even 50mph) limit and a camera every quarter of a mile. I drove along there at 4am one morning, dutifully crawling along at about 43mph, despite having three lanes clear, encountering not a single vehicle (actually, I think maybe ONE car passed on the other carriageway) and the only hazard being a line of traffic cones stored on the far left of the hard shoulder.

    Then, a few hundred yards AFTER the end of the speed restriction, there was a workman in a yellow jacket standing in the middle of the road and positioning cones to reduce the road from three lanes down to one!

    The law says I should have done 40mph in the restricted section and 70mph afterwards. Common sense and the judgement of an experienced motorist seeing the actual road conditions on the ground says that 85mph and 50mph respectively would have been the appropriate speed.

    The law is an ass, as Mr Bumble so rightly said.

  15. ph0b0s

    Due to cost cuts

    When the budget was there to have them, then they were vital and safety groups should be happy. Now the budget for them is being cut then to placate the safety groups the message is they were not so necessary, so don't worry that they are now going, cause we can't afford them.

    I think this will happen for a lot of other things, that under the previous administration we were told were vital. We will now be told they are not as vital by a new administration who's only difference is that they cannot afford them.

    So that vital hospital; it was not that good, so you don't really need it anymore. None of this stuff would have been admitted to if money was not tight.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    REmove the cameras and go back to the good ole method of spot the police man with the radar gun :D

    Much more sporting and gives you a chance to talk* you way out of a ticket

    * talk as in officer my wife is in labour, or for women....look officer boobs and you made me cry.

  17. Bassey

    Don't Understand?

    I've never understood the anti-speed camera lobby. Speed cameras take pictures of people driving faster than the speed limit. Unless you are someone who frequently drives faster than the speed limit and feels it is your right to do so I fail to see how this has any effect on you. Speed cameras are utterly irrelevant in my life because I don't drive faster than the speed limit.

    They aren't perfect. Some councils used them to raise money rather than for road safety. But all of that is surely entirely irrelevant as long as you don't intend driving faster than the speed limit?

    I really do find it utterly baffling.

    1. Rasczak
      Thumb Down

      Unbaffle

      As I said in another reply, speeding and driving too fast are not the same thing. These cameras do not necessarily catch someone driving too fast, as they only trigger if you are speeding. There are better methods of stopping people driving too fast.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Un-Unbaffle

        If you are driving above the posted limit then you are driving too fast. It's not a difficult concept to understand.

        I think what you mean is that driving fast is not necessarily dangerous given certain conditions in the same way as driving below the speed limit may be dangerous in other conditions.

        1. Rasczak
          FAIL

          Un-Un-Unbaffle

          I wanted to make this simple, but this isn't a simple situation.

          Driving too fast is dangerous, but you don't have to be speeding to be driving too fast, for example, the posted limit is 40, but due to snow and ice, driving even at 20 needs extra caution.

          Speeding is illegal, but the actual safe speed for that road may be higher than the posted limit, for example on those many roads that have been reclassified as 50 or even 40 when they were were never problems when the limit was 60, just councils have been told to reclassify.

          Cameras trigger for speeding regardless of whether the speed is safe or not.

          Cameras do not catch the dangerous if they are travelling below the posted limit.

          What you don't seem to understand is that the posted limit is an arbitrary number decided on maybe 30 or 40 years ago, based on cars, (and fuel issues), and linked to certain classes of road. The actual road conditions and vehicle capabilities generally have no bearing on the limit applied.

          Take for example the autobahns of Germany where there is in general no hard speed limit, just an advisory, but these are introduced as and when necessary, weather conditions, traffic levels and roadworks all bring limits when needed, and punished heavily. They are also less reliant of fixed cameras, using Police patrols. That means doing 120 MPH on a clear day with little traffic on an open stretch can be legal, but on the same stretch, in rain with a lot of traffic, doing 60 could be illegal. There if you are going too fast then you are speeding, the numbers don't matter, the actions do, that does not apply in the UK.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Rasczak

            It seems we agree on the difference between safe and dangerous, however, what you don't seem to understand is that it is irrelevant why a speed limit is in force. A limit has been set and if it is exceeded the law as been broken. The police have far better things to do(*) than play cat and mouse with motorists when a simple camera can do the job for them. You cannot go about breaking laws that you don't like even if it is an unpopular one.

            (*)Let's just overlook whether they do spend the extra time productively.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Chris W

              People are discussing the merits or otherwise of driving too fast. Everyone accepts that the law exists and is technically and actually broken when you exceed it. What we are discussing is whether every time it IS exceeded should automatically result in prosecution or whether common sense should apply in realising that exceeding an arbitrary limit is not necessarily always as dangerous as we are led to believe and perhaps undue stress is placed on the importance of breaking the speed limit.

              There is no danger in discussion of whether or not the law is correct and speed limits are desirable or set at the right value, or even if there IS a right value. There is certainly no need to try and trump every argument with a perfectly obvious return to "well if you break the law.... ".

              And while we are about it, quit telling people they don't understand. They do understand, but they disagree with you.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @AC

                I think you'll find I have said that driving at a speed in excess of the limit is not always dangerous and driving at speeds below them is not always safe. The problem is that most people think they are safe driving at speed which reminds me that many people often said they drive better after a few drinks. Human nature necessitates the setting of speed limits, if you feel they are unjust or shouldn't apply to all drivers then do something to have this changed. No matter what limit is set it will always be arbitrary to some.

                All thise reminds me of a John Cleese quote which I think was "An English man would rather be told he was a bad lover than that he had no sense of humour", the ending should be changed to "than that he was a bad driver".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      My tuppence worth

      "Unless you are someone who frequently drives faster than the speed limit". The problem is, you might always fanatically obey the speed limit and then one day circumstances conspire to make you make a little mistake and the speed creeps up to 32 just as you pass a camera in a 30. I'd be pretty annoyed if that happend and I was treated the same way as someone who sped through at 50 wouldn't you?

      The thing that I find objectionable, apart from all the valid arguments about not targeting careless and reckless drivers, is that the cameras are fixed speed, and set with a very low margin, often booking people who travel just 1 or 2 mph over the limit.

      If speed kills, (and it clearly doesn't, otherwise pilots, racing drivers and astronauts would be dead) then the people who are dangerous and likely to kill someone are not those doing 32mph in a 30.

      If someone is doing 32, they are quite clearly aiming for 30 and not 40, 50 or 60. A human being would know this, a camera does not. It is black or it is white. Things are not like that for humans. We are not machines. If the road dips, the car speeds up and we have to reduce power to compensate. Some people react quicker than others. If the gap between speeding up by 2 mph and realising, reacting happens passing a camera you are nicked.

      Younger people can't imagine the normal deterioration of older people's senses. There are people driving with far less spatial awareness than you'd imagine and giving them something else to check is a recipe for them not seeing something else (maybe you!) in front of them.

      Cameras are another distraction. When driving in an unfamiliar area, there is already too much signage, road markings etc. Information overload is recognised as being a hazard, and the presence of a camera means another glance away from where you are going just to make sure your speed hasn't crept up from 30 to 32.

      They are a bit of a blunt instrument, and when you only have a hammer, every problem remarkably looks like a nail.

    3. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
      FAIL

      @Basssey

      To quote Ms Bee "Oh Do Fuck Off"

      You are being a pompous twat.

      I would much rather there were real police on the roads than the cameras.

      Cameras do not:

      Notice drunk drivers

      Notice the car is unfit to drive.

      Notice the car is uninsured.

      Notice the car is overloaded.

      Notice the driver is gassing on a mobile.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fixed Speed Cameras

    Fixed speed cameras are a dumb idea. They may well reduce KSI accidents at the camera site, and if there's another site a mile away they may reduce KSI accidents at that site too. Unfortunately they may do nothing for the stretch in between.

    There are those who suggest that the problem is painting the cameras yellow and making them prominent. Do that and you find that drivers brake for the cameras and accelerate afterwards. These people will tell you that if the cameras were (a) hidden and (b) moved about regularly then so long as there were warning signs that speed cameras were in operation somewhere on the stretch of road concerned drivers would not have this option. However I'm not so sure of this because a lot of drivers will assume that the speed cameras aren't there if they can't see them.

    Bright yellow paint on average speed cameras would address the issue of people just braking for the cameras while appeasing those who don't like the idea of stealth cameras.

    The anti speed camera brigade's biggest gripe seems to be that cameras are a revenue raising device. Here's a simple idea to keep both sides of that debate happy. Get nicked for speeding by Mr Plod and you get points and a fine, get nicked by a camera and you only get the points. That would shut up the "cash cow" brigade while retaining cameras to satisfy the likes of BRAKE. It would also mean that the authorities concerned would only place cameras where they were effective, not where they thought they could make money. Radical I know, but I don't think you can argue with it from a safety point of view.

  19. Safe Speed

    DfT failure - not Fit for Purpose !

    Considering that we have shown that the figures were wrong a long time back how come they are only now admitting to it and yet STILL getting to repeat it ! Utterly disgraceful.

    We have shown here http://www.safespeed.org.uk/rttm.html that it is clear that allowing for appendix H there is only 5% of accidents that have 'excessive speed as a factor' that includes BOTH within and over the posted limit.

    Not the 30% they were claiming at that time - they were wrong then and have apparently exacerbated that problem and made it worse !

    It must be corrected NOW with full explanation as to how and why they failed to do there job, why they failed to heed our Media coverage of this and then to come forward so that they might just be able to salvage some credibility if they are lucky !

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      you can't take that website seriously

      http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/12/22/paul-smith-and-safe-speed-the-self-exposure-of-a-crank/

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
        WTF?

        @AC

        Monbiot is a bigger self-publicising crank than anyone else I can think of! I doubt his analysis is even close to accurate.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          @Intractable Potsherd

          Monbiot doesn't even attempt any analysis but instead makes a single valid point. This is something you might have gleaned had you taken two minutes to read the article instead of dismissing it out of hand because you have a negative opinion of him.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Stop

      But why...

      ... should we be "satisfying the likes of BRAKE" at all? Like all victim-mentality groups, they are so far adrift of what most people care about that they can and should be ignored. We need more consensus laws, not those driven by special interests with chips on their shoulders. All speed camera sites should be subject to a planning process, properly publicised and subject to consultation. This would require asking the people who actually use the road what they think, as well as any residential occupants. The authority would be obliged to give clear reasons why they are being considered, and how they are expected to deal with any problems. Cameras should not be sited merely because of a noisy family whose dozy child got knocked down whilst exiting the off-side of the family car at rush hour without anyone checking that it was safe, for instance.*

      *Yep, we have one in my town for that reason alone.

  20. Peter Young
    Grenade

    Get a life

    Of course the drivers who speed are never the ones who overtake on blind bends, park on pelican crossings, use their phones to send text messages etc. Maybe we can all choose a law we are not going to observe so if all the frustrated speeders could just post their address and when they will be out I can nip round and nick their tv and valuables as I've gone for housebreaking.

    1. MnM
      Badgers

      while we're wildly extrapolating

      reading between the lines:

      passive aggression

      distorted sense of moral proportion

      low faith in fellow man

      A paedophile priest, I presume? Am I right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Ah, yes- but I'm a speeder

      so I'll be back in 10 minutes rather than the hour you're expecting!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      I speed sometimes.

      And I do use my phone to send text messages. Just not while driving.

      But I don't overtake on blind bends- this is likely to get you killed. And I don't park on Pelic_O_n crossings as this is a good way of getting your car keyed, dented and your wheels nicked.

      What you're thinking about is "bad drivers" rather than "speeders". People who speed are exceeding an arbitrary limit. To show that it is arbitrary, consider many country roads. 60 limit, but you need to drop to about 20 to get round some of the corners. Equally, some bits have long straights (with no skidmarks, parts of cars or burnt scrub growth to the side) that people frequently top 100 over. So the enforced limit clearly has no real bearing on reality- it's very definitely _not_ safe to stick to this limit over the length of this road, and definitely _not_ unsafe to exceed the speed limit.

      Bad drivers, however, can't be caught by automated methods. They can be the ones trying to stick to the legal 60mph limit going round those corners and who go crash into the wall at the side- or the ones who think "I had to do 20 round that corner, I'll do 20 for the rest of the way. That'll be safe in a 60 limit with many blind bends".

      Would you at least agree that doing 20 round a twisty backroad with a 60 limit is much more dangerous than doing 100 down a long clear straight?

      Oh, and breaking into my house to nick my TV would break several laws, so you'd still not be able to do it.

  21. Peter Fox
    Stop

    Highways safety fraud goes wider

    Firstly I think that making criminals pay for their crimes and being a net earner is an excellent system. Secondly the regression-to-the-mean problem affects many of the improvements on the highway. Of course cameras work - people wouldn't complain if they were ignored or ignorable, but making inflated claims is endemic in the highways 'engineering' culture. This is very convenient for companies that earn lots of money by being busy adding more signs, fiddling with road layouts and so on. They can point to 100's of 'black-spots' that vanished (regression-towards-the-mean) when they did something.

  22. JP19

    Speed - just so much bollocks

    If you removed your speedometer and threw it away would you worry about:-

    a) harming yourself and others

    or

    b) harming your licence and wallet

  23. Bob H
    FAIL

    DfT Statistics fail.

    Further dubious statements and number fiddling on that FAQ:

    "<B>Aren't only a small proportion of accidents a result of excessive speed?</B>

    In 2009 exceeding the speed limit or going too fast for conditions was reported as a factor in 4,187 deaths and serious injuries (DfT Road Safety Statistics).

    What's more, exceeding the speed limit or going too fast for the conditions was reported as a factor in 26% of fatal accidents; a further 575 deaths which could have been avoided."

    So, the question asks if the proportion is small and the response is a quantity statistic not a proportion statistic. According to the DfT themselves:

    "There were just over 222,000 road casualties in Great Britain in 2009" and that was in some 163,554 reported road incidents resulting in an injury. So proportionately 1.89% of casualties were serious and speed related. To put that in perspective 17,064 cyclists were reported injured on the roads in the same period.

    1. Anthony Cartmell
      Unhappy

      Road death rates are acceptable.

      UK society currently thinks that killing about 9 people, and seriously injuring nearly a thousand, every day on our roads is acceptable. Compared to deaths from obesity and other illnesses, that rate is very low, but it's still quite a lot compared to other modes of transport such as planes and trains. If the HSE and safety legislation applied to roads in the same way as it does to railways, air travel, and workplaces, there wouldn't be many roads left open, and our jails would be full of drivers who've killed. We love driving our cars (those that have them) too much for that to happen, sadly.

      Surely ALL motor vehicle crashes that cause death or serious injury have "too fast for conditions" as the cause, otherwise the driver could have stopped or slowed in time? The problem is, of course, deciding what "too fast" is, and a perfectly clear straight road would seem to be an ideal place to go fast, until something completely unexpected gets in the way...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Speed contributary....

        having filled in numerous copies of these statistical returns I can tell you that these figures cannot be relied upon to prove need for speed cameras.

        15MPH on ice on motorway ...speed prime cause coupled with road conditions

        20 MPH near school when road full of kids .... speed again a factor

        3 MPH in 30 limit when road full of fans from rugby match, drunk walks into car... driver fault, again speed ( happened to a mate of mine, was he hacked off)

        All the factors are ticked not just the prime one, and there was no option for idiot.

        The problem with cameras is they are a blunt instrument

        66MPH on good A class road in car ... camera fires.

        HGV with 42 tons on board in same place 65MPH camera does not fire .. which is more dangerous?

        Then consider HGV could be overloaded and driver over hours but no plods on road because the cameras do all the enforcement.

  24. max allan
    FAIL

    Statistics

    So, the DfT admit they made the numbers up :

    "a spokesman told us that statistical analysis was no more than "a matter of opinion" "

    How did they arrive at 42%?

    They did a statistical analysis of the data.

    So their statistical analysis is an opinion that they are happy to publish and claim is a fact but 2 other people's analysis they discount and ignore.

    We all know the government make up most of their numbers but you think they'd have the good grace to admit it when someone cleverer than they are proves them wrong...

  25. Bruce Ordway

    Slow down?

    I live 3.7 miles from my place of work and it takes me 10 minutes to drive there.

    But taking the bus is an hour, with transfers.

    What's this have to do with speed bumps and traffic cameras?

    I'm not sure, but something is wrong with this picture.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I can tell you what's wrong

      You have too great a dependency on your car. A normal person should be able to walk 3.7 miles in less than an hour. I used to walk 6 Km to work and it didn't take much longer than driving after you've added in stoppages at traffic lights and the time to find a parking spot which was often a fifteen minute walk away anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Idiot

        I can tell you what's wrong with you at least - you're an idiot. I can think of dozens of reasons why he might need transport to get to work, if you stopped to think for a second, I'm sure you could too.

        Not including of course that he might just not want to spend 2 hours a day walking or bussing to and from work and possibly spending that time with family and friends, or anything else that's less boring that that (I used to have to walk 45 minutes each way to and from work and it's a right chore).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ AC 09:59

          You were doing ok until the 2nd paragraph too.

          The 2nd para makes you look like a lazy, apathetic twat. You've maybe heard of climate change, but I suspect you're a denier, because accepting it might be true would be such a "chore".

    2. blackworx
      Stop

      Re: Slow down?

      The reason the bus takes an hour with transfers is because the roads are full of cars occupied by people whose leisure time is somehow more precious than everyone else's.

  26. <shakes head>

    it is not the cameras per say

    it is the fact that we are always lied to abou thow and why, if it was all above board people would be more inclinded to listen

  27. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    WTF?

    "Unwitting"?

    DfT publishes report saying speed cameras improve KSI numbers by 42%

    They are advised by experts in the field this is *wrong* immediately

    They continue to make the *same* claim for 5 years until a change of government.

    That is not the definition of "Unwitting." It is the definition of *deliberate* policy.

    Not *withdrawing* the claim entirely suggests *someone* in the DfT is waiting for a change of government to reverse the policy. That is "Yes minister" style policy making (by the back door) by Whitehall.

    Full disclosure. I know *exactly* what being hit by a large car at speed feels like. It was not the driver fault and he was braking as he hit me, which is why I'm still around. jIf it worked cost effectively I would advocate coating the road with black treacle. *However* lets have a *comparison* of how well the different methods work.

    The UK is knee deep in car photographing cameras of *all* kinds. Perhaps it's time to question what *all* of them are doing.

    1. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
      Happy

      "I know *exactly* what being hit by a large car at speed feels like. "

      I don't, I was bladdered at the time coming back from a gig at the Broken Doll.

      I remember being told I had smashed the bumper, bonnet, windscreen and roof though and I got away with a mild concussion and bruises.

      Hope the driver was insured!

  28. Anthony Cartmell
    Alert

    Missing the point about speed and crashes

    Those that want to do away with speed cameras, and who think drivers should all be allowed to drive as fast as they think is safe for the conditions, should ask themselves why we bother with speed limits at all. Would they, if in government, remove all the speed limits that annoy them?

    Almost by definition, crashes (or "accidents") happen when you least expect them. Otherwise we'd all be able to avoid crashing because we'd always see the hazard well in advance. It's not the capabilities of the driver that matter (of course most drivers are good, if asked, its the other people who drive badly), it's the unseen dangers and the unexpected actions of other people/animals/nature/mechanisms that cause the daily deaths and injuries on our roads.

    Speed limits and cameras are needed most often where there is danger (i.e. people have been killed) but the road appears completely safe: which is why they often appear on straight roads, and not on twisty ones. They also often appear on residential roads where the locals have explicitly campaigned to have them.

    See also: Risk Compensation.

    Compare: Deaths on the UK's roads vs. deaths to UK soldiers abroad, and the difference in reporting these deaths in the national media.

    1. Matthew 3

      Also missing the point?

      The issue is surely just whether we treat drivers as adults or not. Prior to cameras we had the concept of 'discretion' where the Police threw the book at the real idiots and warned those who were fundamentally safe but erred slightly.

      A trial where all road markings, pavements, railings and street furniture was removed from an urban area found that drivers suddenly had to be more responsive and couldn't rely on road markings: so accident rates FELL when drivers were treated like responsible adults.

      I would bet that even if all speed limits were abolished, the vast majority of drivers would still travel at much the same speed as they do today. There will always be nutters but they could still be caught by 'driving dangerously' laws, even in a world with no limits.

      Swindon has also proved that removing cameras doesn't actually make everyone suddenly go crazy - even the Top Gear boys urged everyone to show restraint in the area lest the cameras go back on. The more you treat people as children, and the less they have to think for themselves, the more likely it is that you'll hear people saying things like 'I did 50 because I'm allowed to' and then crashing in thick fog.

    2. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      @ Anthony Cartmell

      Yes, I would advocate getting rid of them as they stand. Make them advisory, and make that part of the bundle of considerations as to whether a person was driving dangerously or not.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    I could easily done 130mph and not been a risk to myself or others

    "I could easily done 130mph and not been a risk to myself or others"

    Yeah right unless your names Jason Plato or another race driver, Senna was quite happily doing 195mph - quite safely, just before he went off...

  30. TkH11

    no surprise

    You mean the Labour government lied about something?

    Wasn't that par for the course, big something up, issued exaggerated claims to the public..they did that a lot.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Stop

      Senna...

      ... had something happen that had little or nothing to do with the speed.

  31. Ku...

    Half of 42 is still 21

    If speed cameras result in a 21% reduction of KSI then that is still well worth having.

    I suspect that the current govt. move against speed cameras is more that they don't want to pay for them than that they don't believe they work.

    I notice that despite claims by many motoring groups that speed cameras are revenue generators the camera system operates at a net loss, according to recent govt. figures...

  32. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    My biggest worry about speed cameras is:

    I don't like speed cameras, but not for the obvious reason. The problem I have with them, is that each speed camera that gets installed generally results in less overt traffic policing. Speed cameras address only one aspect of traffic safety - speed - and they do so in an arbitrary way. They don't adjust to checking for lower speeds when it is raining, in the middle of winter (and therefore low light) when a school is kicking out. They don't check for tailgating, or failing to maintain lane discipline on a roundabout, or driving with fog lights on when it isn't foggy, or driving an unsafe car, or road rage, or any other traffic offence. If instead of speed cameras you had more traffic police, the roads would be much much safer.

    I would like to point out that I've never been caught by a speed camera. I have; however, been stopped by the police. They once stopped me because my brake lights were permanently on due to a faulty microswitch. The fault had just happened, and after the copper had issued me with a notice to fix it and get it checked at an MoT test station I thanked the guy. Yes, going to the local cop shop with the certificate within a week was a hassle - but having defective brake lights was a genuine safety risk. You can't beat real cops enforcing things because they can check for more than one possible issue. Speed cameras only check for speed over the limit - they don't even check for dangerous speeds.

    Of course, going back to the story - DfT - FAIL

    1. Rolf Howarth
      Badgers

      The objection to speed cameras...

      is that it attempts to replace thinking about your actions and being responsible for them with inflexible rules and procedures. It's quite analogous to the way the last government took away the discretion of people like teachers or social workers or police officers to use their skill and experience and judgement to make the appropriate decision in each situation, replacing them with bureaucratic rules and regulations and reduces the roles of professionals to little more than technicians blindly following procedure.

      Driving along a typical unrestricted non-trunk A road through the countryside, there are going to be stretches where it's safe to do 75, and others where 45 is too fast. An experienced driver knows to watch out for hazards and drive appropriately, things like bends or junctions or children wobbling on a bicycle obviously, but also less obvious things like a wooden post or gap in the hedge indicating a possible hidden driveway, and other road users making sudden unexpected movies because they misjudged your distance.

      By itself, speeding doesn't cause ANY accidents. It's always in combination with other factors, not being careful enough of the conditions and driving appropriately (eg. driving along with the stereo turned up high in a world of your own, rather than considering that the moped driver waiting to pull put out on the other side of the road, who briefly glanced your way and is now staring the other way waiting for a gap, might not have noticed you and is about to pull out in front of you).

      When that moped rider is killed, the solution isn't to reduce the speed limit by 30mph and put a speed camera there, but to educate drivers and remind them to concentrate on other road users and watch out for other people making mistakes.

      The only reason speed receives so much attention is because it's so easy to measure. The problem is that it lulls us all into a false sense of security and stops us thinking so much about all the other things.

      Badger sign because a good driver watches out for animals unexpectedly running out into the road :-)

    2. PirateSlayer
      Thumb Up

      F

      Although I agree with you, I think the problem is that local councils pay for the schemes, but the revenue goes into the central kitty (i.e. into porn films for minister's husbands) instead of back into road safety (i.e. more cameras and more police).

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Regression to the mean

    The regression-to-the-mean oversight was obvious to anyone with a basic knowledge of statistics. They found sites with a high accident rate over the previous three years and installed cameras. Then measured the new accident rate. Duh!

    It wasn't an "oversight". If it somehow was an honest mistake they were informed of it very quickly. They just liked the 40% figure so they stuck with it. Lying politicians.

    BTW how do you measure the reduction in accidents at a camera site? Assuming no one actually crashes into the camera isn't there ambiguity over how close counts as being at the site?

    If accidents don't naturally cluster in particular locations then a "blackspot" is just a rare, and practically unrepeatable coincidence of accidents at one place. So a place that is a blackspot over one period of time is almost never a blackspot in the next period. But this 'reduction' happens whether or not you stick a camera there! You would have to position cameras ramdomly to really test out whether they work.

  34. Dadz
    Flame

    "bigged-up"

    You have unwittingly used the phrase "bigged-up." This is not the Queen's English. Perhaps it is Caribbean slang.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Big up = fail

      Not even correct use of caribbean slang either.

      To "big up" does not mean to exaggerate, over-emphasize or promote it means to give respect to someone or something.

      I cringe when I hear people use this expression!

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Big up = fail

        No, it still works. The DfT did big-up the benefits in the sense that they praised them. Yeah? I know what I'm doing. Do not question me.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    Am I the only one?

    They all shouted about having to turn them off due to cost savings. Well why tell any one? The speed camera works by "fear"! Simply leave them where they are, turn them off and don't tell anyone. Then you get the supposed saftey benefits without any cost. Obviously word will spread, but most people would be wary and still slow down a bit.

  36. b166er

    Speed cameras detect speed

    However most accidents are caused by driving without due care and attention; not speed.

    Therefore, start booking drivers for behaving like such c*nts on the road and our roads will be that much safer.

    I'd like the technology to 'blacklist' cars whose drivers have exhibited fuckwittery, so I can refuse to let them out of side roads/merge in the future etc. I suppose that technology already exists in some respects; BMW, Range Rover, Mercedes Benz, Volvo XC90, people who look like they think they're more important than anyone else...

    From Wikipedia:

    In March 2008 Portsmouth City Council introduced a 20 mph (32 km/h) speed limit (reduced from 30 mph (48 km/h)) on 410 km (250 mi) of the City's 438 km (272 mi) of roads. The scheme cost GB£570,000 to implement. The Department for Transport commissioned a study to evaluate the impact of the speed limit reduction, using before and after data for traffic speeds and casualty data. The main findings of the study were that at 0.9 mph, the reduction in traffic speed was not statistically significant and that although there was actually an increase in the number of crashes resulting in killed or seriously injured (KSI) road casualties in the year following the implementation of the new speed limit, that was not statistically significant either. There was no overall change to the number of KSI casualties and there was a 15% reduction in the number of slightly injured road casualties

    Original source;

    http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme4/interimeval20mphspeedlimits.pdf

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Point <------------------------------------> bi66er

      Are you deliberately missing the point of speed limits or are you really that stupid?

      It's not that speeding causes accidents, it's that the higher the speed the more serious the consequences of the accident will be. If you don't understand that you probably ought to surrender your licence.

      Oh and where exactly do you get your "fact" that "most accidents are caused by driving without due care and attention"? I've never seen any recorded statistics that confirm this. The idea that speed does not cause accidents is a popular one, but it's not backed up in the real world. Take for example the idiot who ran into the back of my car the three months ago. The police estimated his speed at 80mph in a 50 limit, had he been doing 30mph less he would have stopped in time. How about the accident near my house the other day. T junction with a blind crest nearby. Car comes over crest at 50-ish in a 30 while a van is pulling out. If the car had been doing 30mph the van driver would have seen him coming and not pulled out. At the speed he was doing he appeared over the crest after the van driver had started to pull out. End result the car hit the back of the van.

      In both those cases the only way your "fact" holds tru is if you argue that "driving without due care and attention" includes failing to pay attention to the speed limit.

      However the main point here is that speed limits are LAW. Break the limit and you break the law. You can choose to break any law that you want, it's called free will, but you have to face the consequences of making that choice. Why do you think speed limits are different from any other law? Oh and don't give me that crap about your knowing when it's safe to break the limit. Every idiot out there will tell you they know when it's safe, right up until the accident.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
        Stop

        Wrong...

        ... whilst speed was a factor, the drivers in the incidents you mention were not paying attention to the fact that there was something that might make a car stationary in your first example, and that there was a junction in the second. Even at the posted speed limit, both these incidents could have occurred, because the drivers were not paying attention. A good driver notices these things and is adequately prepared, regardless of the posted speed limit.

        However, in the second case, how do you know it wasn't the van driver that had got it wrong - he was the one leaving a junction, after all.

      2. Graham Marsden

        @AC

        Whilst I agree that the higher the speed the more serious the accident, you are the one who is apparently missing the point that you should *not* drive faster than the speed at which you can stop in the distance visible to you. It doesn't matter *what* the limit is, you need to tailor your speed according to the conditions prevailing at the time.

        Unfortunately when people have the attitude that because "speed limits are LAW" they assume wrongly that means that the speed indicated by the prevailing limit is a speed that it is safe to drive at rather than thinking intelligently about what they are doing.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    The "don't be evil" folks are missing the point

    Just because we obey a law does not remove our right to be angry with the injustice of that law. Speed limits are strict liability offences; this is spiteful, especially when you consider how badly many landowners trim hedges that obscure signs. There should be on-road coloured-tarmac markings *whenever* the speed limit changes.

    However, the real problem is that many speed limits are set by local council jobsworths and not traffic engineers and take no account of the fact that most cars on the road today are not 1965 Ford Anglias. Speed limits are often set too high as well as too low; many twisting country roads are unrestricted, but you'd be insane to do 60mph on them even on a bright, clear, dry day.

    Make speed limits more sensible and good folks will respect them. Bad folks will always be at risk even if the speed limit is 5mph.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Just change the type of camera

    Take away the Gatso's etc and install more Traffic Signal Cameras.

    Take the Reading ID at sat 07:30 in the morning.

    Add White Van Man with copy of Sun or Star on the Steering wheel. Not wearing a seat belt and talking into his mobil phone while holding the dog end of a roll up.

    Does this breed of driver ever stop at Red Lights?

    Nah.

    Only the other morning, one of the species cane hurtling through a set of lights fully 5 seconds after they had gone RED not Amber but frigging RED. He only just missed piling into a Reading Bus.

    He did side swipe a guy on a Harley though. The Rider was ok but the bike was a mess.

    The White Van Driver didn't even stop.

    If I caught up with him I'd probably stick one of my Size 12's into this dangly bits.

    Yeah, I was the Harley Rider.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Linux

      as a ex biker I sympathise mate.

      I think all drivers should have to do at least twelve months on a bike before being eligible for any other vehicle test. Good you were uninjured. I expect you were wearing the right gear.

      Always a problem in the summer as you tend to boil! I had a mesh (Joe Rocket) jacket that I bought in the USA. Never saw one for sale at that time in the UK.

      I see people riding even big bikes on major roads in shorts and tee shirts (in the summer) and remembering how much hitting the ground at speed hurts, it makes me cringe!

      Anyway hope you nail the bu99er!

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    Ditch the cameras

    I agree with everyone who upvotes posts which say "Cameras are shit" and disagree with anybody who says "no they're not" regardless of the credibility of their arguments.

    I want all cameras to be ritualistically run over (very quickly and safely...oh wait...quick and safe are the same thing aren't they), and REPLACED with average speed checks EVERYWHERE. That way, you drivers whinging about the people who slow down for a couple of meters or break hard when they SEE the camera will always be driving at the correct speed! Problem solved and we'll keep that nice 21% reduction in deaths related to arseholes speeding. Probably get more of a reduction too given the fact that instead of driving safely for a few meters, drivers will be forced to:

    1) Pay attention to speed limits

    2) Pay attention to the safety of others and not just their perception of their own safety

    3) Shut the fuck up about being 'caught out' since it being an average check, you can know that small deviations will be ironed out by the end of the stretch.

    Ahhhh...alternatives. Something drivers seem to have none of...except trusting drivers (now why doesn't that work for all of those naughty robbers, rapists and murderers?).

    Take some responsibility for that massive tonnage of metal you drive around 'safely' in.

    1. Juillen 1
      Badgers

      I'm so looking forward..

      To the day the Tax Man appears on your doorstep to enquire why you've never declared your birthday money as a source of unearned income, then proceeds to slap you with a huge bill.

      When laws are made arbitrarily, they need to be enforced with a sense of context (which is why you're not prosecuted for not declaring the odd few quid you get from doing an odd job for a mate and so on. Unless of course, you've been stupid, in which case they do hit you with a tax audit, and then you better be able to show receipts for everything you've spent/earned/whatever).

      Your argument basically seems to be:

      1) Slavish adhere to an arbitrary law, with no judgement (hey, is it fine to drive at 30 when fog reduces visibility to 2m?). This is a non-argument, and won't stand up under debate, and has shown never to do so. However, taking the speed limit as the "highly recommended limit for normal conditions" as it used to effectively be, is a great thing. So, you're a little over when conditions are clear.. Big deal.. If conditions are bad, you better be under this, and drive to the conditions that the road allows!

      2) I'm 100% behind you on this one; you've got to the real crux of the matter. however this has nothing to do with hard speed limits, and everything to do with reading the road, and paying attention to everything that's going on (including making allowance for other people making mistakes). When we get police back on the beat that spot this kind of arse behaviour, then the roads will be safer (or put in a camera that detects it, and handles context). We definitely need to bring back politeness and good driving, rather than making excuses for the people who blatantly believe it's ok from them to weave in and out, cutting people up and tailgating, overtaking on the inside when they feel like it and so on. Personally, I think the police should be able to put a huge sticker on cars of people like that which can't be removed (by law, for a period of time, and a respray when it's removed with the paint) which says "Asshole Inside".

      3) As per 1. You've come from a false premise, and are trying to use the "you were caught out by the rules" when the rules are what's at dispute. If we followed your logical progressions, we'd still be taught that the earth was flat, and the centre of the universe,with all things rotating around it (after all, that was religious law at the time, which was accepted as law).

      It seems to be a running theme on this that you have the "anti camera" side who say "here are the statistics, figures and demonstrated effectiveness of cameras, coupled with procedural evidence that they can't be placed in the positions they're best used for, and evidence that they're more often than not placed where they'll gather revenue, not help prevent collisions".

      Then you have the "pro camera" side who start with the premise that cameras must improve safety (which is the point that's at dispute), therefore anyone who gets caught by one is unsafe. Taking your initial premise as the item at dispute is a way to have your argument laughed at.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Con

    It's stupid.

    Of course accident rates will decrease over the 10 metre or so where the white lines are painted.

    But afterwards everyone speeds up.

    They also put them on ordinary roads where accidents are unlikely to happen. Seems like the only place they should ever be is on the approach to junctions and in areas where there are lots of pedestrians, such as outside schools.

    ie. all the places where people driving slower over a period of 10 metres makes any difference at all.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Burning speed cameras

    if you get caught then you get done for causing criminal damage.

    All you've got to do is cover the lens, spray some canned foam on it from your local DIY shop, just enough to cover the lens, or a bit of paint, or duct tape.

    I'd prefer the duct tape, as it's not really causing any damage. I'm sure the cops can still prosecute you for some offence using duct tape, but it's not likely to be as serious as causing a grands worth of damage by fire.

    And then just keep on going back and replacing the duct tape when the cops remove it.

    Cops probably don't check the cameras unless they're replacing the film in them. And certainly in Berkshire, the ratio of the number of cameras to those actually loaded with film is very, very low.

    1. Geoff Campbell
      Pirate

      Covering the lens

      I am told, by a source normally reliable on the subject of photography, that a thin smear of vaseline will ruin the pictures, whilst being mostly un-noticable to a casual inspection.

      Mind you, I guess they clean the lenses fairly regularly, but you should be able to get a whole years worth of entertainment froma single pot of vaseline, and how often can you say that, eh?

      GJC

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Thinking about Berkshire...

      When I went to uni at Reading, there was a speed camera covered up by a beer can for several weeks.

      No idea who did it, just remember seeing it walking home from town and lol'ing at it.

      I remember hearing the figure for the number of "active" cameras in Berkshire - can't remember what it was now - but yeah, it's very low number of them.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Regression to the mean

    I have noticed that tying a bunch of flowers to a lamppost at the site of a fatal accident is even more effective than installing a speed camera. The random nature of fatal accidents ensures that another one is unlikely to happen in the same place.

  43. IDRIS FRANCIS

    They always knew that speed cameras were a con - and they lied and lied and lied again

    I have spent thousands of hours studying speed camera data, claims and casualty trends, initially in connection with my ECHR "right to silence" application (Google my name and "ECHR" for more information). I have 400mb of data, analysis, correspondence - and that does not included tens of thousands of emails. Here are a few facts:

    1/ In the speed camera era 10,000 more people have died than would have been expected because a 7% pa compound fall in deaths/traffic changed to less than 3% pa. That's more British deaths than Iraq and Afghanistan combined, several times over.

    This is not guesswork of bias, but simple aritmetical fact. Of course in itself that the graph of extra deaths almost exactly matches the graph of speed camera fines does not prove that one cause the other, but the coroorating evidence - cuts in police patrols, all those adverse effects all over the county etc etc certainly make a damning case.

    2/ The police STATS19 crash analysis data says that 5%, 6%, 8%, 9% and 114% of All, Slight, Serious, KSI and Fatal accidents respectively involve speeding. But if you read the STATS 20 instructions to police for completing STATS 19 you will find that officers are instructed to tick the "

    Speeding" box if one or more vehicle WAS speeding - or MIGHT have been speeding. By definition therefore the figures are overstated.

    But there's more - "involved" is one thing, "primary cause" is quite another. Almost all crashes involve several causal factors - eg drunk/ too fast / wet road etc - and even if cameras eliminated ALL speeding, the other factors would remain, so accidents would fall by much less than the above %s. As the DfT itself has pointed out.

    But there's yet more - by common consent, any camera "benefit" is restricted to wthin 0.5km or so of the site - so cameras affect only 1% of rural road length and 3% of urban. So maximum reduction, even with all speeding eliminated, even for fatal, is not 14%, but 14% divided by (say) 3 to allow for other factors, divided by 2 (typical fall in speeding is 50%) and times 3% to allow for coverage = 0.06%,or 1 in 1,600, a proportion so small it would not show above the random variations of fataliies, or something like 2 per annum in Britain.

    THAT ladies and gentlemen, is the order of magnitude of the benefit achieved for £120m year (plus all the costs of defendants of course, direct and indirect) Or it would be if the 40 or so adverse effects did not kill far higher numbers than that.

    Let's have no more of the sanctimonious "if you don't like it, don't speed" claptrap - many safe drivers are penalised for simple mistakes that involve no danger whatever, often at inappropriately low speed limits, and other innocent drivers are penalised because of defective equipment, perjured and forged evidence etc etc - I have records of many such cases on file.

    But all of that is trivial compared to the REAL problems (1) they do not cut accidents (2) they cause many more accidents than they could possibly cut. You may doubt it but I have the evidence. Don't argue unlessl you too have put in the effort to find out, because I find it pointless to debate any subject with anyone who has no idea what he is talking about.

    3/ The DfT has refused to investigate adverse effects of cameras, telling me, in writing, that it is not possible for any to exist - although nearly 40 have been identified including sudden braking, slowing and accelerating, etc etc etc. (Well, if you were a Brain of Britain, would YOU work at the DfT? I suspect that they offer day release courses for 3 years for staff to study to become half-wits. Not all of them achieve it)

    4/ The DfT have known all along that the 4th year report claims were bogus and misleading - that has been pointed out them repeatedly by many campaigners.

    So, ladies and gentlemen - we have been conned big time. £1bn down the drain, and now redundancy money and pensions for 2,000 otherwise unemployable jobsworths - and God knows, I have corresponded with enough of these brain-dead people to be able to vouch for that description. Except for the cunning ones of course, who write the web sites giving seriously misleading information about your rights and responsibilities. Just two examples -

    5/ they try to tell defendants that the NIP is valid if posted no later than the 14th day - UNTRUE - it has to be posted, by 1st class letter post, so that it would normally ARRIVE no later than the 14th day. To be valid it must also be recorded ON THE SAY IT IS SENT by the authorities as having been sent that day. Hampshire SCP recently had to quash 1000s of convictions because they didn't do this, but were caught out by a determined defendant as having filled in those details only months later, only for the cases that went to court. The head of the organisation conveniently went back to S Africa out of reach of the law, the official who carried out her illegal instructions was not even reprimanded.

    6/ Another example - they try to tell you that you have an absolute duty to identify the driver - its a LIE. Parliament rightly recognised that people should not be penalised for failing to do something that they are are in fact unable to do, so the Para 4 S172 defence is that you do not know who was driving, and despite having tried your best cannot find out. That means you are innocent.

    So by now you are starting to realise that we have indeed been fleeced, by conmen, by smooth tongued snakeoil salesmen, by politicians unwilling to admit that they made a very serious mistake - believe me, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    See next posting

  44. IDRIS FRANCIS

    speed cameras have been a disaster - and the DfT lie and lie and lie again

    I have spent thousands of hours studying speed camera data, claims and casualty trends, initially in connection with my ECHR "right to silence" application - Google my name and "ECHR" for more information. I have 400mb of data, analysis, correspondence - and that does not included tens of thousands of emails. Here are a few facts:

    1/ In the speed camera era 10,000 more people have died than would have been expected because a 7% pa compound fall in deaths/traffic changed to less than 3% pa. That's more British deaths than Iraq and Afghanistan combined, several times over.

    This is not guesswork of bias, but simple aritmetical fact. Of course in itself that the graph of extra deaths almost exactly matches the graph of speed camera fines does not prove that one cause the other, but the corroorating evidence - cuts in police patrols, all those adverse effects all over the county etc etc certainly make a damning case.

    2/ The police STATS19 crash analysis data says that 5%, 6%, 8%, 9% and 114% of All, Slight, Serious, KSI and Fatal accidents respectively involve speeding. But if you read the STATS 20 instructions to police for completing STATS 19 you will find that officers are instructed to tick the "

    Speeding" box if one or more vehicle WAS speeding - or MIGHT have been speeding. By definition therefore the figures are overstated.

    But there's more - "involved" is one thing, "primary cause" is quite another. Almost all crashes involve several causal factors - eg drunk/ too fast / wet road etc - and even if cameras eliminated ALL speeding, the other factors would remain, so accidents would fall by much less than the above %s. As the DfT itself has pointed out.

    But there's more - by common consent, any camera "benefit" is restricted to wthin 0.5km or so of the site - so cameras affect only 1% of rural road length and 3% of urban. So maximum reduction, even with all speeding eliminated, even for fatal, is not 14%, but 14% divided by (say) 3 to allow for other factors, divided by 2 (typical fall in speeding is 50% and times 3% to allow for coverage = 0.06%,or 1 in 1,600, a proportion so small it would not show above the random variations of fataliies, or something like 2 per annum in Britain.

    Let's have no more of the sanctimonious "if you don't like it, don't speed" claptrap - many safe drivers are penalised for simple mistakes that involve no danger whatever, often at inappropriately low speed limits, and other innocent drivers are penalised because of defective equipment, perjured and forged evidence etc etc - I have records of many such cases on file.

    But all of that is trivial compared to the REAL problems (1) they do not cut accidents (2) they cause many more accidents than they could possibly cut. You may doubt it but I have the evidence. Don;t argue the toss until you too have put in the effort to find out, because I find it pointless to debate any subject with anyone who has no idea what he is talking about.

    3/ The DfT has refused to investigate adverse effects of cameras, telling me, in writing, that it is not possible for any to exist - although nearly 40 have been identified including sudden braking, slowing and accelerating, etc etc etc. Well, if you were a Brain of Britain, would YOU work at the DfT?

    4/ The DfT have known all along that the 4th year report claims were bogus and misleading - that has been pointed out them repeatedly by many campaigners.

    So, ladies and gentlemen - we have been conned big time. £1bn down the drain, and now redundancy money and pensions for 2,000 otherwise unemployable jobsworths - and God knows, I have corresponded with enough of these brain-dead people to be able to vouch for that description. Except for the cunning ones of course, who write the web sites giving seriously misleading information about your rights and responsibilities. Just two examples -

    5/ they try to tell defendants that the NIP is valid if posted no later than the 14th day - UNTRUE - it has to be posted, by 1st class letter post, so that it would normally ARRIVE no later than the 14th day. To be valid it must also be recorded ON THE SAY IT IS SENT by the authorities as having been sent that day. Hampshire SCP recently had to quash 1000s of convictions because they didn't do this, but were caught out by a determined defendant as having filled in those details only months later, only for the cases that went to court. The head of the organisation conveniently went back to S Africa out of reach of the law, the official who carried out her illegal instructions was not even reprimanded.

    6/ Another example - they try to tell you that you have an absolute duty to identify the driver - its a LIE. Parliament rightly recognised that people should not be penalised for failing to do something that they are are in fact unable to do, so the Para 4 S172 defence is that you do not know who was driving, and despite having tried your best cannot find out. That means you are innocent.

    So by now you are starting to realise that we have indeed been fleeced, by conmen, by smooth tongued snakeoil salesmen, by politicians unwilling to admit that they made a very serious mistake - believe me, you ain't seen nothing yet.

    See next posting

    .

    1. Geoff Campbell
      FAIL

      Hang on a second....

      Sure, you can state in writing that you do not know who was driving, and have no means to find out. However, in the overwhelming majority of cases this will be a straight lie, won't it? So do you recommended lying to the authorities on a routine basis? I think I'll look elsewhere for my legal advice, thanks, even though you undoubtedly know a lot about the subject.

      GJC

  45. IDRIS FRANCIS

    The real reasons accidents fall at camera sites

    Ready for the last lap - for tonight at least?

    I have shown in previous posts that it is manifestly impossible for speed cameras to cut accidents even at sites (let alone nationally) by anything like the absurd % figures often claimed - and many Partnerships really DO claim up to 80% reductions as camera benefit. So why do they fall?

    1/ Long term downward trend (better vehicles, roads, air bags etc

    2/ Falling reporting levels of SI and Slight (so many more licenses at risk means that the reporting level of SI has fallen even lower than its long standing 40%

    3/ Changing traffic patterns

    4/ Where there is a camera, drivers diverting to avoid it.

    5/ Pure chance, and particularly regression to the mean, the tendency for any trend to resume its previous path after a disturbance

    6/ Camera benefit if any - less problems caused by cameras.

    It is of course impossible to quantify all of these different factors, not least because they will be different at every site. It IS however perfectly easy (though time consuming) to separate the camera effect from all the others combined - and I have done it.

    No statistical theory or equations, no assumptions (as in the Appendix referred to in the original posting. Simply a record of what DID happen

    I obtained STATS19 data for 4.2m injury accidents from 1991 to 2007 including location, police area, severity and numbers of casualties

    I then build a database of every 1km sq area in the country (equivalent to a camera site) that had at least one casualty in that entire period

    I then searched the database to make a new smaller database only of those that had at least one example of 4 KSI in 3 years, the usual camera installation threshold.

    I then searched this datbase to add up the total casualties (each severity) in all such 3 year "before" periods and corresponding 3 year "after" periods.

    I then transferred the totals into a spreadsheet, calculating the % fall of each severity

    The complete Excel page covers national, London (a special case due to size and congestions) and every other police area.

    Then I did the same again for 6 KSI in 3 years, and 8 and 10.

    Then I did it all over again for accidents rather than casualties.

    All of these results are of a consistent pattern, including much higher falls in rural areas - there being less chance of another accident in the same place.

    Here are some headline figures for K, SI, and KSI - clearly the most important

    The first number is the number of sites/periods

    Number K% SI% KSI%

    ------------------------------------ -------------------------------------

    GB 131,303 39 30 31

    LONDON 15,530 11 14 14

    GB-LONDON 115,773 44 35 36

    SCOTLAND 649 71 71 71

    WALES N 1,056 70 65 65

    DURHAM 812 56 53 54

    ETC ETC ETC with the great majority of the remainder between the above figures and

    YORKS W 4,956 29 26 26

    and only a few large city conurbations lower

    And NOW FOR THE JOKE - IF YOU HAVEN'T SPOTTED IT ALREADY:

    Given that there are even now only some 6.000 sites in Britain and that nearly all have been installed gradually from 2001 to 2007, VERY VERY FEW of the sites in this analysis ever had a camera!

    In other words, the complex statistical theory of Appendix H, so easy for the DfT to dismiss as "only an opinion" WAS right - but was a serious underestimate, because THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THAT THESE FALLS CLAIMED AS CAMERA BENEFIT HAVE ALWAYS HAPPENED, WITHOUT CAMERAS!

    QED, over and out - but if anyone wants to take this further and thrash the authorities to within an inch (sorry 25.4mm) of their lives - get in touch

    and

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      No disrespect Idris

      cos I'm aware of your legal fight and I'm 100% a supporter.

      But mate IMO you really do need, to not let this issue take over your life.

      The best revenge you can have is to live your life to the full in spite of the lying b'stards.

      Have good day mate.

  46. Kevin Bailey

    They worked in some places

    On the A4 near Houslow there seemed to be a death every other week from people jumping the lights on a three lane carriage way smashing into cars turning right.

    I think this was the first place in the country to install traffic light cameras.

    I'm sure here these cameras must have saved dozens of lives.

    The one on a wire clear road with no housing in Dorset which done me for 37 in a 30 has probably saved nobody but made Dorset some serious money.

    Best bet - get a decent TomTom - they'll warn you about the stupid cameras and help you see what the actual speed limit is.

  47. blackworx
    Unhappy

    Another road transport story on the Reg...

    Another comments thread filled to the gunwales with poor, persecuted, self-righteous motorists.

  48. Argus Tuft

    they're OK in certain spots

    BUT - in my area of OZ they've gone totally feral on them, and lovingly set them with a (reportedly) 3kmh tolerance.

    Do 103.1 kmh on a 5 lane freeway and you're snapped. As that is about the width of the speedo needle it has breed a generation of drivers who spend more time watching their speedo than looking out of the car.

    This becomes frightening when taking my learner-driver teenagers out on the road - and they're concentrating more on what speed they're doing coming up to an intersection than looking out for the fire-engine coming from the crossroad.......

    Typical case of a concept taken to ridiculous extremes by zealots and accountants...

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Grenade

      So, blackwox...

      ... how about you go somewhere else instead, since you are so perfect.

      1. blackworx
        FAIL

        Who said anything about me being perfect?

        Oh yeah. It was you.

  49. James Cullingham

    Set the limits right for more respect

    As has been pointed out, speed limits would be respected more if they showed more evidence of having been set carefully and with the aim of increasing road safety rather than, for example, satisfying some political objective or of saving effort for the person setting them.

    Here is a fine example of illogic: http://maps.google.co.uk/?ll=52.997323,-1.524943

    The main road - the B5023 - has a 50mph limit, as do all the main roads within a radius of several miles. I'm not necessarily disagreeing with this, incidentally: it is a lovely road but does have a number of field entrances and agricultural traffic, so perhaps it makes sense (at least for some stretches). The limit was reduced a few years ago (5ish).

    But look at the short stretch of road that resembles a layby. It's about 150m long and serves three houses and a pub. No traffic will use that road unless to access one of those four destinations. Yet the limit there is 60mph (you can confirm that with Streetview)! Admittedly I'm not sure how fast a car would need to be to reach that speed in the space, but you may still ask why. Presumably it made the paperwork easier (only one road for which the limit was being changed), although it did mean that more signs had to be installed.

    While we're at it, look at side the road opposite. Again, this carefully tells drivers that they may now drive at 60mph. But Streetview will also confirm that (a) this is a much smaller road than the main road, with a poorer surface; and (b) a few feet after the national speed limit sign are two warning signs indicating that the road narrows and is bumpy, because there are bridges over the river and railway.

    Some limits should be higher. Some should be lower. But either way they should be properly thought out and relevant, so that 'my judgement was that I could safely drive above the limit' ceases to become a valid statement. Then, and only then, we can talk about proper enforcement (e.g. using GPS).

    Final point: much though I hate them, I respect average speed cameras much more than spot ones. You still get numpties braking for them, but at least they mean that if, for instance, it becomes necessary to exceed the speed limit temporarily (e.g. because it is the quickest, and therefore safest, way of overtaking a slow-moving vehicle) then it can be done without necessarily falling foul of the machine.

  50. Geoff Campbell
    Happy

    I am, as ever, in two minds on the subject of speed cameras

    On the one hand, I routinely and regularly exceed the speed limit, sometimes by quite outrageous margins.

    On the other hand, I am a very careful driver, and I have continued to routinely and regularly etc., etc. since the introduction of speed cameras (18 years ago? My, but I'm getting old) without ever getting caught by either them, or by police patrols, by the simple expedient of reading the road ahead, anticipating problems, and slowing down to an appropriate speed for the conditions. Mostly, this means I am comfortably within the speed limit before the speed camera becomes obvious, in the few situations where the cameras are sited in obviously revenue-generating positions I have spotted them and slowed to the speed limit by the time I reach them.

    So, whilst I would never say I was in favour of the wretched things, they do rather seem to penalise those driving without due attention to their surroundings, mostly.

    Government departments lying to me, OTOH, I could well do without. But them, that's kinda what they do, I suppose, isn't it?

    GJC

  51. VulcanV5

    What's in a name. . ?

    The *real* issue about the cameras has nothing to do with speed, but subterfuge. The gut reaction of so many ordinary law-abiding citizens similarly has nothing to do with speed, but subterfuge.

    Look again at the cameras issue and then refer to any official document. The word "speed" doesn't appear. Instead, the word is "safety".

    "Safety", as in a concern for making more safe that which is actually or potentially unsafe. "Safety", as in a desire to act in the common good.

    And, where the cameras are concerned, "safety" as in Safety Camera Partmnerships -- the term used by Local Authorities throughout the UK. Which is obviously to be taken to read that when you're caught on camera breaking a speed limit, the fine you pay exists to help the Safety Partnership in its commendable work to make the world a safer place for you and everyone else.

    I was caught by a camera snapping from a bridge on the southbound M6 outside Penrith on a Sunday morning in July 2006. The time was 9.30am. The sun was shining. The sky was cloudless. Being a Sunday, the M6 -- in this part of the world at least -- was virtually devoid of traffic. There were no road works. Travelling at 82mph I was hit with a £60 penalty, points on my licence and, subsequently, a hike in my car insurance premium.

    But. . . Fair's fair. The Safety Camera Partnership was only doing its job: to make the southbound M6 outside Penrith that much safer. Otherwise: why else does it have that name?

    Curious to know how my sixty quid was going to be spent on improvements to a wide, clear stretch of motorway that by virtue of its Oop Norf location carries even at peak times around a tenth of that on the M25, I wrote to the police. They didn't know. They referred me to the local council.

    I wrote to the local council (Eden). They didn't know. I asked for the address of the Safety Camera Partnership and the name of its principal officer. They wouldn't tell me. I then wrote again to ask how many people were employed by the Safety Camera Partnership and how much they collectively earned. I never received a reply.

    Huh? A wonderful humanitarian agency dedicated to improving the lot of Mankind -- a SAFETY PARTNERSHIP -- and you can't find out where it is, what it does, how much it spends, and what it spends upon????? A hard-working public service organisation that exists to help everyone regardless of gender, creed or anything else. . . and you can't find out how many are employed by it or at what operating cost?

    Hence my opening point.

    The reaction of ordinary folks to these cameras is not because they're there but because their function is deliberately misdescribed and their purpose deliberately misrepresented. Worse than that: the misdescription is so blatant a lie that it's clear it could only have been authored by someone or something with so arrogant a view of human intelligence as to border on complete contempt.

    In other words: the State.

    And there you have it.

    Calling a speed camera a "safety" camera, raking in £millions in the guise of "safety" when the money goes anywhere but, issuing statistics known to be phony but continuing on with 'em nevertheless. . . Goebbels is obviously alive and well.

    Doesn't matter a damn to me whether the cameras go or stay. Built on a lie, presented as a lie, and sustained by lies, they're the perfect representation of the utter contempt within which all of us are held -- an explanation, were any such needed, of why so many today view governance of any kind, and politics of all kinds, in reciprocal fashion.

  52. Craig 20
    Megaphone

    Not as simple as it sounds

    "Speed cameras are utterly irrelevant in my life because I don't drive faster than the speed limit."

    I don't either. Well, I try my best not to. But when you don't know the area, and the limits are not properly signed (sign facing wrong way, car mowed it over, not properly lit etc.) then you could unwittingly be caught. At least with a policeman they could use discretion if it's true. It's not often practical 14 days later when the letter can arrive to go revisit a spot where you were holidaying 400 miles away, just to check that the limit is above board before accepting that you were actually to blame.

    In some areas (such as 60 + 70 limits) where you should *never* be going any faster on a public road of that type, then make them hidden, break the law, get caught. I don't care about you, you risked my life, think of the children etc. etc. etc.

    It is my view that camera trigger points are set too low and close to the speed limit. 33mph in a 30 limit, thats less than walking pace over. It's easy to accidentally stray into this area without being unsafe. Speeding is not so optional, you have to *speed* in the sense that you have to drive at some speed, whether it is 2mph or 90mph, and 2mph is certainly more dangerous on a motorway than 90. Outside factors, such as a strong wind, can influence that speed as you drive along, so unless you are going to constantly look at your speedo to check (defeats the point really) there is a very small chance that you may drift into an unclean licence.

    To conclude, and I'd never thought I'd say this, I'd rather have the fuzz.

    p.s. Megaphone... because it's as close to a police hair dryer as I can find.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Alert

      Most cameras ...

      ... are a visitor tax. The locals know about them and compensate, the visitor get caught and is rarely able or willing to fight the case which may be hundreds of miles away. It is another aspect of the scam.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Discretion

    A common argument against speed cameras from many drivers is that they (the driver) are smart enough to know when it's safe to break the speed limit. That they are capable of reading the road conditions an knowing what speed is safe. There are several counter arguments to this:

    There is the smart arsed one: How come you are clever enough to read the road conditions and judge the safe speed, but not clever enough to notice a big yellow box and a bunch of white lines on the road?

    Then there is the sensible reasoned argument: OK so you're the best driver in the world, you're a member of the IAM and you can judge the safe speed to the nearest mph, great. Are you confident that every other driver on the road has the same superhuman abilties? So some dickhead in an Audi (aren't they all?) who "knows" that it's safe to drive on a particular road at 50mph when the speed limit is 30 wipes out one of your loved ones. Will you accept his excuse that he's a great driver and knew it was safe right up to the point where it wasn't?

    Oh and as for Police Discretion, don't make me laugh. We are always hearing that a speed cameras don't have any judgement, whereas a police officer will excercise their discretion if they spot you speeding. Sorry but that cuts both ways. You never get a speed camera who's having a bad day. You never get a speed camera who wants an excuse to stop you because it doesn't like the look of you or your car. A lot of drivers also have the idea that a police officer will be swayed by the argument with which this post began. That really is funny. Can you imagine how a traffic policeman would react if you were to try to explain that you knew better than he what the safe speed happened to be?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Police? Discretion?

      Remember that the police use their discretion when applying sections 43 and 44 of the anti-terrorism bollox. How often do they give photographers the benefit of the doubt.

      The only time a police orifice will give you the benefit of the doubt is at the end of the shift when they want to knock off and get down the pub.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Joke

        AC@15:56

        "The only time a police orifice will give you the benefit of the doubt is at the end of the shift when they want to knock off and get down the pub."

        Unless they fancy a bit of O/T of course.

        Evening all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Discretion

      Discretion no longer exists.

      Many years ago I was stopped on a dual carriageway with a 50mph limit, clear day no other traffic apart from a police motorcyclist who pulled me over and asked if I knew what speed I was doing. I told him I was doing eighty but when I saw him slowed down to sixty. He pointed out this was still above the limit and I replied I was aware of that but it was what I thought I could get away with. We had a chat, I was given a lecture and I went on my way without a ticket.

      It wouldn't happen today. I would definitely have got a ticket and the officer would probably try to pin something else on me to improve his performance figures. Personally I'd rather have the cameras than try to deal with a member of the current police force.

  54. gef05

    read the article

    This thread has turned into a camera bashing exercise. But the article is clearly about the DfT. In case you just don't get it:

    -the DfT lied about the numbers

    -cameras and other measures continue to have at least a 20% impact on the fatality numbers

    -let me repeat that: the number is in the 20s

    Not one of you anti-camera posters have a comment to make about the fact that the true numbers are still impressive. A pity.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Stop

      They aren't impressive...

      ... since 20% of very little is very, very little.

      1. stan bowles

        they save lives

        according to Linda Mountain at The University of Liverpool, they save 50 lives a year. Each rta fatality costs us £1m. So safety cameras are saving £50m right there, plus raising £100m in fines from people too stupid to obey the law.

        This fine money used to be hypothecated for road safety spending, it now goes into the collective taxation pot so local authorities are curbing spending on cameras. the results in Swindon have been a 100% increase in rta fatalities, from zero when the cameras worked to 1 death after they were turned off, which proves very little except no worthwhile conclusions may be drawn from the Swindon exercise (introduced by the leader of the council, who has a speeding conviction)

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other Factors

    I can think of two examples of the installation of speed cameras where the cameras themselves weren't the overriding factor in the reduction of accidents. Both are in Suffolk.

    Until the A14 Haughley realignment there was a section of 70mph dual carriageway with blind bends and many junctions crossing the central reservation. With speed cameras installed the accident rate fell dramatically. Of course, this had nothing to do with the simultaneous reduction of the speed limit to 50mph and addition of high grip surface.

    Similarly, the A140 near the junction with the A14 had a junction where traffic entered the dual carriageway at a crawl at the bottom of a hill. The installation of a speed camera just before the junction dramatically reduced the number of accidents. You might have guessed that this also came with a reduction of speed limit to 50mph.

    How many other sites have other migitating factors which show that the cameras only contribute to the safety improvement, and are not responsible for all the improvements? By assuming that cameras make up the entire of the accident reduction, their value for money is inflated artificially.

    With council budgets under pressure, it is easy to see how cuts are an easy win once the figures are presented truthfully.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Placement

    Plop a speed camera on a wide, straight, flat stretch of open road with no junctions crossing etc. and you're not doing it right. While speeding might be an issue, I doubt there are many accidents on the strech concerned.

    However there is a little thing highways engineers like to talk about that they call "forward visibility". It boils down to a road being safe because the driver can see what's in front of them. The further the uninterupted forward visibility the safer the driver should be. Look at a new road and you will see thar the road cuts through the top of hills to eliminate blind crests and that curves are gentle with nothing on the indide to obstruct forward visibility. Junctions and crossings have unobstructed views. And looking at all the new bypasses and link roads built round here in the last ten years (there are lots) not a one has a speed camera on it.

    The speed camera is a money saving excercise, not a revenue raising excercise. Near me there is an old road (even though it's called New Road) with quite a few cameras. This is a road with 125 KSI accidents in 5 years on a stretch about four or five miles. There are cameras either side of the entrance to a large tourist attraction. The next camera up comes just before a junction by the crest of a hill. The next camera after that just before a blind crest. And so on. Each of these camera sites could be made safer by some major road realignments to improve forward visibility, but it would cost millions to do and in places mean demolishing houses. The local authority do not have the money to do this, I reckon that one road would have taken up all of this year's budget and next year's highways budget has been slashed. Even if they found the money and made the improvements no doubt you'd have the population complaining about the waste of money.

    This is a case where the cameras have been installed at black spots (yup they're all blackspots - my next door neighbour was killed at what is now one of those camera sites four years ago by a speeding driver who veered onto the wrong side of the road) and will hopefully do some good. There is little or no scope for other improvements at these spots even though some work has been carried out to widen a straighten the road where possible. Speed bumps are out, the limit is up to 50mph. If they dropped the limit to 30 and installed speed cameras they'd get even more complaints.

    OK so a neighbouring authority places it's cameras on straight stretches with good visibility but you shouldn't blame the cameras for that. Blame the authority that put them there.

    That's part of the problem. Authorities who take road safety seriously and install cameras as genuine road safety measures are tarred with the same brush as those authorities who just bang cameras out willy nilly to keep the treasury happy.

  57. IDRIS FRANCIS

    Camera benefit is an statistical illusion

    The problems for most people with Linda Mountain and Mike Maher's Appenmdix H analysis are (1) complicated statistical theories (2) limited data for only 216 sites (absence of traffic volume data (eg drivers diverting) (3) a number of assumptions.

    Some have argued for double blind trials - nonsense, data volume could never be enough to be meaningful, choice of "similar" sites would be subjective etc.

    On the other hand, a HUGE "double blind" trial did take place - by default! I obtained year, police area, location to 1km sq and casualty severity data for all 4.2m injury accidents 1991 to 2007. I then built a database of all the 1km sq areas - equivalent to a camera's area of influence - that had suffered any injury accident. I then extracted from it data for 131,303 examples that had suffered at least 4 KSI in 3 years, with all injury data "before" and "after".

    From that database I produced a spread sheet in Excel - available on request - showing % falls of K, SI, KSI, Slight and All casualties and the number of examples - listing National, London (special case due to size and congestion) National - London, and each police force area.

    Average falls, due to long term trend, changing reporting levels (except K) slowing traffic growth, better vehicles and roads were (131,303 examples) 39%, SI 30%, KSI 31%. Excluding London (115,773 examples) 44%, 35% and 36%. In rural areas the falls were even higher, for example Scotland (649 examples) 71%, 71% and 71%, North Wales (1,056 examples) 70%, 65% and 65%.

    The significance of these figures, which involve no selection or statistical theory but simply record what happened, is that very, very few of these sites ever had cameras installed! In other words we have been paying £100m a year for accident reductions which have always happened without cameras, and which are due to RTTM, long term downward trend and falling reporting levels.

    In April 2007 then Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman wrote a letter (www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200607/cmselect/ cmtran/ memo_roads/memo1.pdf) to the Transport Select Committee admitting that speed cameras were not 12% more cost effective than vehicle activated signs as previously claimed, but 900% less cost effective. www.safespeed.org.uk/vas.html contains the detailed correspondence showing how I forced Dr. Ladyman to make that admission - but also that even the 900% figure was seriously misleading because it was based on only the first year's figures. Sensibly costed as any businessman would do over the 10 years useful life of the equipment the comparison (see attached) the real figure is not 12% or 900% but 5,000%. In other words a £1,000 pa sign is broadly as effective as a £50,000 pa speed camera.

    There can therefore be no moral, economic or safety reason for continuing to operate even one camera. Scrapping speed cameras and Camera Partnerships would not put road users at greater risk, because spending a small part of the savings on vehicle activated signs, as some local authorities are now doing, would much improve road safety.

    My contact details are on www.safespeed.org.uk/vas.html

  58. IDRIS FRANCIS

    oops - sent similar information twice!

    regards my analysis of 4.2m accidents - sorry, just realised I sent a similar posting a few days ago

    One more thing - I am dismayed by the number of naive, simplistic, ill-informed, sanctimonious comments from those who do not appear to have read earlier postings.

    If you have not studied the figures at length you do not know what you are writing about, and what you write is merely subjective opinion. Until you know what you are writing about it would be sensible not to make comments, especially silly ones,

    One example that I find particularly silly is the abuse of those who believe that good drivers are able to judge safe speeds better than a man (now retired) who sat in an office with a map 20 years ago and decided what round number to stick on a pole, only in 10mph increments (by law)

    Any such limit is the maximum safe speed only in the sense that a stopped clock tells the right time once every 24 hours. In other words, the proposition that there is such a safe speed limit that is always right regardless of sun, rain, fog or ice, regardless of Ferrari, white van, 1930 8 litre Bentley or 1932 Austin 7, regardless of whether a F1 driver, an OAP, a learner on his first lesson or state of maintenance of the vehicle and its tyres, is self-evidenct poppycock

    That is why speed limits are at best a word to the wise, not a God Given Commandment. Especially now that uneducated idiots are setting limits lower than they were in the 30s, based on average rather than 85th perentile speeds, a principle proved right for 7 decades

    That is why judging a safe speed is not just possible but one of the most vitally important aspects of safe driving

  59. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Boffin

    @IDRIS FRANCIS

    "In other words a £1,000 pa sign is broadly as effective as a £50,000 pa speed camera."

    Now *that* is interesting. It also raises the question of what sensors they have to switch them on. It *suggests* that applied nationally they *could* raise the average national driving speed, possibly by several Kmh. For product deliveries over a whole country that would be quite significant (and produce fewer angry drivers).

    However you can't collect revenue if people ignore the sign in the way you can with a camera.

  60. stan bowles

    A solution

    If we presume the traffic cameras are self funding, and people want more traffic officers to detect the offences speed cameras can't detect, how about this compromise?

    We get rid of all the regulations concerning publishing where speed cameras are, painting them yellow etc and instead use covert cameras which will not distract drivers as they won't notice them. To be nice, we'll make a rule that there must be a clear speed limit sign proceeding any covert speed camera.

    Drivers will not know they've been caught until they get their fine in the post. This avoids the accusation that speed cameras cause accidents since the cameras could be anywhere and will be practically invisible to drivers.

    Revenue will be massively increased since all these drivers who suddenly brake when they see one will now be caught instead.

    With this increased revenue (coming from people who have broken the law), we can fund lots of extra traffic officers to police the offences which we haven't designed a camera clever enough to spot yet.

    Any flaws in the plan?

  61. stan bowles

    speed camera- self justification by law breakers

    For the sake of clarity, Idris Francis has been convicted of speeding. HE has been whining and snivelling for years that any fine he gets for breaking the law is NOT FAIR.

    Speeding fines are a voluntary tax paid by those too stupid or arrogant to think the law should apply to them.

    There doesn't even have to be a death for speeding to be anti-social and dangerous, according to The British Crime Survey speeding is the number one anti-social behaviour cited by the public:

    Professor McKenna said

    "It would appear that we have greatly underestimated the degree of public concern over speeding. "In comparison to concerns such as intimidation, vandalism, harassment, disruptive neighbours, drunkenness and drugs, speeding is the number one concern."

    http://www.reading.ac.uk/about/newsandevents/releases/PR3936.aspx

    here's what the cops think:

    Lives will be put at risk as a result of government cuts to speed cameras, Britain's top traffic police officer warned today.

    Chief Constable Mick Giannasi told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he was trying to persuade ministers to protect the cameras “for the future of our road safety”.

    Casualties had almost halved over eight years thanks to speed cameras and the public had come to accept them, said Mr Giannasi, who is chief constable of Gwent Police and leads on road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

    According to a report in The Times, he has written to ministers warning of a rise in fatal road accidents as councils switch off cameras because they can no longer afford to operate them.

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23864987-speed-camera-cuts-risk-lives-warns-britains-top-traffic-police-officer.do

    Just get out of bed earlier and stop subjecting others to your dangerous, bullying behaviour on our roads. Speeding frightens pensioners, terrifies children, bullies cyclists off the roads. idiots using the roads as their own private racetrack.

    here's my message to the anti-camera brigade, GET OUT OF BED EARLIER YOU FAT CHUFFERS.

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