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We support the abolition of cash for cameras schemes in the UK, the removal of speed cameras where accidents have not decreased, and refocusing of police resources to pursue the real menaces of the road: uninsured, unlicensed, or drunk / drug drivers and unregistered, untaxed, or poorly maintained vehicles.
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The Uninsured Menace
As many as 5 million people could be driving illegally in the UK without insurance or a license. They cost legitimate drivers £500m a year in higher insurance premiums and are 10 times more likely to be involved in an accident.

Read the truth about illegal driving in our featured story including tragic cases where innocent people were killed.

Facts & Figures about Speeding

4500 speed cameras were on UK roads in 1999 and there were 1 million speeding convictions. This increased to approximately 5000 cameras and 1.6 million convictions in 2002.

6000 cameras were in place by the end of 2004 with over 2 million speeding convictions for the year.

1 in 5 drivers have been caught for speeding since since 1996 (that's 7 million prosecutions).

£120 million was generated in speeding fines in 2003

Road deaths increased by 2% in 2003 to 3,508 according to data published by the Department for Transport. The number of motorcyclists killed rose by 14% to 693. However, casualties overall were down by 4% which is of little consequence to the increased number of bereaved families. Despite 100's of extra cameras and 1000's of extra fines in 2003 it doesn't make much of an impact in making our roads safer, quite the opposite as far as fatalities are concerned. This is the highest number since Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997.

Figures made available by SafeSpeed show an impressive 35% decrease in deaths from 1978 to 1988. The spiraling number of deaths continued to decrease during the pre speed camera years until cameras were introduced in the early to mid 1990's. In fact, since the mid 1990's the number of deaths has stayed about the same which is proof, over a 10 year period, that speed cameras do not save lives. If planting 5000 cameras on the streets and issuing over 7 million fines since 1992 really worked then we would have seen the number of road deaths continue to fall, but they've just stayed the same. The question is, why haven't fatalities continued to decrease since cameras were introduced?

Comment: The finger of blame is clearly pointing at the cameras and those who support them. If it weren't for advances in vehicle safety design and medical treatment then casualties would have increased considerably since cameras were introduced.

Less than 4% of accidents are caused by exceeding the speed limit according to new data (page 41) published by the Department of Transport. This destroys the government's claim that 1/3 of accidents are speed related. The facts publicised by Safespeed shows the breakdown of the causes of accidents from 13 police forces from 2001:

Cause of Accident % of Accidents
Inattention: 25.8%
Failure to judge other person's path or speed: 22.6%
Looked but did not see: 19.7%
Behaviour: careless/thoughtless/reckless: 18.4%
Failed to look: 16.3%
Lack of judgment of own path: 13.7%
Excessive speed: 12.5%

Excessive speed includes both speeding in excess of the speed limit and inappropriate speed for the conditions. However, data from Avon & Somerset (the only force to supply such data) shows that 70% of "excessive speed" accidents takes place within the speed limit. Therefore it's fair to assume that 30% involves exceeding the speed limit. A quick calculation (30% of 12.5%) reveals that just 3.75% of accidents involves exceeding the speed limit. Source: Safespeed

Comment: If less than 4% of accidents are caused by exceeding the speed limit then why does the government continue to focus so hard on drivers breaking the speed limit instead of tackling the other 96% of causes of accidents? Doing so would have a major impact on preventing accidents. It's simple maths and common sense; should you focus on the cause of just 4% of accidents or the cause of 96% of accidents?

Cuts in Traffic Police have been linked to an increase in road deaths. In 10 years traffic police have decreased from 8,900 to 6,500 by 2002. This is possibly due to the reliance on "robotic policing" with speed cameras. Read more in an article published by The Observer.

Data acquired from West Midlands Police shows that exceeding the speed limit was the single causation factor of just 4% of accidents in 2001. Hardly the 33% that the government have use to justify the 5000+ speed cameras. The full report and breakdown from the West Midlands Force for 1999 to 2001 can be found at ringroad.org.uk

"We have created a Frankenstein's monster... the cameras are simply an income generator... it is a massive job creation scheme", said a council leader from North Somerset. Read more about this amazing backlash as reported by The Daily Mail.

More people were killed in road accidents in 2003 in Essex than in the previous year despite the increase of speed cameras. Official figures show that 24% more people died even though the government and police insist that cameras save lives. To the contrary, cameras may cost lives if the authorities believe they are a suitable replacement for good old fashioned policing. Inspector Nick Bursten said "In an awful lot of cases it's not excess speed as in 'doing faster than the speed limit' which is causing the fatalities." This is was anti-camera campaigners have suspected for a long time but the official line has always been that speeding is 'exceeding the speed limit'.

Comment: We believe that speeding should be judged in combination with the circumstances, such as weather, road layout and traffic density. Drivers should be more responsible for setting their own lower speed limit such as on tight bends or in bad weather, but police must be more lenient if drivers exceed the limit in good conditions.

Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales (also head of road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers), wants to see the abolition of restricting camera locations to accident blackspots. He also wants drivers to have less leeway when caught by speed cameras, so a speed of 33mph in a 30mph zone will be enough to trigger the camera and an automatic ticket.

Chief Constable Paul Garvin said "What we find is that there is not a single location within the county where you could say speed cameras would be useful in addressing a road casualty problem."

Britain's most senior policeman, Sir John Stevens, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, has spoken out against cameras used for raising revenue. He said "I don't approve of the use of speed cameras as money making devices. The proper use for them is as a measure to lower the accident rate." Notice that the top man didn't even refer to them as safety cameras. "I have asked all my traffic chiefs to make sure that cameras are sited, and only sited, at places where there is a record of accidents caused by bad driving and where the presence of a camera will have a positive effect in reducing that toll." Talking sense, Sir John said "I am not after people on a school run exceeding the limit by five or six miles an hour. I want my traffic policing to target the dangerous drivers, the roadhogs and the menaces driving unlicensed and uninsured."

Britain already has the safest roads in the world per Km traveled according to the Department of Transport in 2001

7.3% of accidents were caused primarily by excessive speed, reported The British Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in 2002.

The UK Government claims that 1 in 3 accidents is speed related. However, it classes the following causes of accidents as speed related: excessive speed, failure to judge other person’s path or speed, following too close, slippery road, in a hurry, aggressive driving, weather and other.

An AA survey has identified 173 miles of the most dangerous roads in the UK. Strangely only 4 out of the 5000 cameras in the country are located on these killer roads.

On rural roads the faster the speed of the traffic the fewer accidents there are, according to the TRL.

Road safety is getting worse, says the Association of British Drivers. "And at the same time there are fewer dangerous drivers being stopped and prosecuted. Speed cameras address one issue and one issue only. If speed cameras were the answer we should be seeing huge falls in national fatalities. We're not." Mark McArthur-Christie, spokesman.

At least 1000 magistrates have been convicted of speeding in the past 3 years. Responses from local magistrates' committees show that 3.2% of magistrates have convictions. Source: Mail on Sunday 21-Mar-04

The government's guidelines for erecting cameras says that the location must have had at least four fatal and serious collisions in the last three calendar years. However, the Association of British Drivers has revealed this is not the case as many drivers have suspected. The ABD's detailed report shows that cameras have been placed where there is absolutely no history of accidents. The Sunday Telegraph points at 4 further examples where in this case roads have opened with a camera already in place: the A12 in London, the Batheaston bypass near Bath, the A370 into Weston-super-Mare and the A6 Clapham bypass near Bedford. More details on the government's guidelines.

Public anger is affecting the police's ability to fight crime according to the Police Federation's Vice Chairman, Rod Dalley. People have stopped tipping off the police about villains because they believe cameras are being used as money spinners and not to cut accidents. "The public is blaming beat officers for the cameras. We are not getting people calling in and it is all down to the cameras". A survey of 400 cameras in Greater London found that 80 are unjustified as accident rates and speed is so low. Meanwhile front-line officers warned that people are more at risk because it's cheaper to put up cameras than send police out on patrol. Source: Mail On Sunday

Drink driving is on the increase. With less traffic police and more reliance on speed cameras is it any wonder? During Christmas 2003, 1 in 10 breath tests following a crash were positive. Comment: So how does the government expect speed cameras to stop drunk drivers? All traffic laws must be enforced, not just speeding. No wonder other motoring offenses are on the up.

Speed camera police have raked in £5,100 a year extra in overtime according to financial accounts acquired by the Daily Mail. Fines paid by motorists are not only funding excessive overtime but also office refurbishments. One police force admitted that 100 officers carrying out extra speed camera duties were paid £510,000 between them in overtime in 2003. Money was also spent on comforts for staff including a £460,000 makeover of their offices, plush furniture, decorating and travel. Police and office workers netted £1.43million in salaries for running the Safety Camera Partnership for Essex. The details come from Essex county's accounts and contradicts the government's claim that money from speeding fines is reinvested in improving road safety and saving lives. RAC spokesman, Kevin Delaney, said "This demonstrates what a boom industry speed cameras have become." A spokesman for the partnership scheme said "We are transparent with our figures. We comply with guidelines. The figures are fully audited."

Comment: Thanks to the honesty of the partnership scheme it's clear that the police and office workers are enjoying perks such as huge overtime payments and refurbished offices only made possible by money raised from speeding fines. These audited facts fly in the face of what the government and police chiefs claim is done with the money.

The public have turned against us, says Chief Constable Mike Hedges as he announces his retirement from the South Yorkshire force. Mr Hedges says that the public view speed cameras as tax raising machines. "I believe we have lost a tremendous amount of goodwill from the public. I think the biggest mistake we have made is getting money back. I am most uncomfortable with the focus on the taxation view which goes with it." He continued, "There is a place for cameras, but I think we have lost the argument on that. I think the police service has suffered some really serious confidence problems and support from the public as a result." Source: BBC News and Daily Mail.

Over 400 accidents a year could be prevented by lighting up unlit stretches of motorway according to an investigation by Auto Express magazine. Figures show that 1,273 accidents occurred in 2002 on unlit sections of motorway at night. An RAC spokesman pointed out that allowing motorists to see further ahead will give them more time to react in an emergency. Drivers are also more likely to fall asleep on dark roads. Lighting costs £210,00 per Km but each road death costs the tax payer £1million so lighting would work out cheaper, claims the RAC.

Comment: It's good to hear there are workable ways to save lives on the road. If the government turned off their obsession with speed cameras, which do not save lives, and took action based on this research then more accidents and deaths really can be prevented.

US research has established that those who speed moderately tend to be the safest drivers.

Some countries have recently increased speed limits on major roads such as Italy and some US states.

An estimate 5000 people die each year from infections picked up during stays in hospitals due to lack of basic hygiene, reports the National Audit Office. This suggests that hospitals are responsible for six times as many deaths than are killed in speeding related accidents. Would the Government not save more lives by diverting its attention to improving basic hygiene in hospitals? Probably not as speed cameras make money while hospitals cost money.

Since the introduction of speed cameras to the UK in 1993, the drop in the number of fatalities per year has decreased by one third.

Former police chief who brought speed cameras to Britain, Peter Joslin, said "Having been responsible for persuading government that we should have speed cameras, I now feel it has gone too far." In an interview with the Mail on Sunday he said "If the public are so upset - and there is no doubt they are - perhaps it is time to take a fresh look. Policing is about balancing priorities and keeping the public on your side... I have no doubt about speed cameras in principle but we have to be convinced there are in locations where speed is a danger." Mr Joslin feels that too much reliance has been placed on cameras. "Traffic officers are the force's eyes and ears - the people in the front line. They are the ones who catch joyriders, drug dealers and robbers. If you have more traffic police on the streets there is a good chance of hardened criminals being arrested." On the issue of speed limits, Mr Joslin called for a fresh look at variable limits as there was no sense in enforcing 20mph zones outside schools at weekends or during holidays. On motorways even 75mph could be too low in good conditions.

New Zealand's speed camera policy won't work according to a police spokesman. Most accidents in New Zealand involve cars traveling under the speed limit. According to LTSA's own data only 16% of accidents involved a car traveling over the speed limit. Can Britain learn from this? Read more on this report.

Speed cameras may cause more accidents according to Dr Alan Buckingham, a senior lecturer at Bath Spa University College. The reasons are:

  • Lower speeds demand and, therefore, promote lower attention levels
  • Drivers prioritise speed and speedometer watching over safe driving
  • Speed cameras distract the driver’s attention as drivers look out for the next camera rather than the road ahead
  • Speed cameras cause sudden braking as drivers slow down to the posted speed limit
  • Speeds are slowed near camera sites so drivers divert to less safe routes in a bid to save time, or they may try to make up time by driving at inappropriate speeds where there are no cameras
  • Speeds are slowed and journey times are increased, leading some drivers to become frustrated or aggressive, and it forces all drivers to suffer longer exposure to accident risks
  • Initiative to drive at the appropriate speed for the conditions shifts from the driver to speed cameras. Therefore, drivers will become less used to taking responsibility for adjusting speed according to complex, changing circumstances encountered

Drivers with unregistered vehicles or incorrect registration details often evade prosecution when caught by speed cameras. It is fair to say that these drivers may take more risks and drive faster given that they are willing to flout registration laws and knowing that they cannot be traced by speed cameras.

One million motorists have no insurance, no tax, or no driving licence and are nine times more likely to crash, says The Department of Transport. Those drivers are responsible for up to 7000 accidents resulting in injuries each year. Less police patrols and more speed cameras mean these drivers are difficult to catch and prosecute. Read more about this issue in our special feature.

71 year old Stuart Harding was arrested and taken to court for telling drivers to slow down on a busy road. He stood by the roadside holding a home-made sign that read "Speed Trap - 300 Yards". Down the road a police van was in wait with a laser gun to catch speeding motorists. However, Mr Harding wanted the drivers to drive slowly to avoid accidents as families were crossing the road for a car boot sale. The court said "the use of the sign was a deliberate and intentional act and by use of the words 'speed trap' you were assisting speeding motorists from being prosecuted." The council said 200 drivers were caught at this spot in one morning. That's about £12,000 in fines. Mr Harding was found guilty and banned from driving for a month and ordered to pay £364 costs. It is believed the court is the first in the land to use new anti-social behaviour powers to ban someone from driving for a non-driving offense.
Comment: Mr Harding was trying to prevent accidents by making drivers slow down, but it's clear that the police favour protecting their revenue from fines instead of saving lives by allowing Mr Harding to perform a public service by getting drivers to slow down and pay attention to the road. It's astonishing and an insult to Mr Harding that the court used a new power created to fight yob culture to punish a senior citizen for a harmless and good willed act.

Speeding convictions rose by 229% between 1993 and 2000 while other driving related convictions (such as dangerous or drunken driving) have dropped.

A former policeman has spoken out against the misused of speed cameras. Steve Walsh, a former member of the Association of Chief Police Officers' team that helped expand the use of cameras, claimed that many cameras were being positioned where there was little danger of an accident but a high chance of catching motorists. Mr Walsh said that the government had given the police income targets which forced them to concentrate on making money instead of slowing traffic. As a result cameras were placed on busy roads that were not accident blackspots. He said "When I was running the system our aim was to ensure that speed limits were observed, but if you succeed in getting people to observe the speed limit then you produce no income. Forces were only allowed to join the 'cash for cameras' scheme if they signed up to increasing massively the numbers of tickets issued. It was not about road safety." Source: Sunday Telegraph

In Ontario, Canada, speed cameras were scrapped in 1995 when road deaths stood at 999 a year and have since fallen to 881. According to the Daily Mail a political spokesman for Ontario said "speed cameras had no effect on drunk drivers, tailgaters, unsafe lane changes, sudden stoppers or vehicles with serious mechanical defects. These are the biggest killers on Ontario roads and they can only be stopped by officers on patrol."

Raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph and remove speed cameras from many sites, says the Conservative party. Speedcameras.org is not a political website but this is an interesting policy that we will hold the Tories to when they next come to power.

Proof that speed cameras do not save lives has been revealed by the Mail on Sunday from figures supplied directly from 11 police forces. Data showed that despite an increase of cameras since 2001 there has been an increase in road deaths. While the government and Safety Camera Partnerships continue to chant that speed cameras save lives, the figures supplied by the police show that this is simply not the case. Half of the police forces showed an increase and two forces, Derbyshire and Hampshire, had a third more fatalities despite doubling the number of cameras.

County Speed Cameras Road Deaths
2001 2003 2001    2003
Lancashire 206 297 74 88
Bedfordshire - - 39 32
Cheshire - - - 68
Derbyshire 56 101 45 63
Hampshire & IOW 23 51 69 104 (Jan-Nov)
113 (est to Dec)
Kent 81 126 107 103
London - - 297 201 (Jan-Sep)
268 (est to Dec)
Dorset 38 51 42 50
Staffordshire - - 98 90
Warwickshire - - 58 41 (Jan-Sep)
54 (est to Dec)
Durham - - 27 42
Totals 404 626 856 882
971 (est to Dec)

Three forces didn't have data for the whole of 2003 so we have extrapolated figures to December shown in small print.

Parking Ticket Cash Cow
Speed cameras aren't the only way authorities make easy money. London councils rake in £150million each year from parking tickets and £200million from residents' parking permits. In most cases permits are nothing more than a tax to park outside your own home.
Source: Daily Mail

Decent Wardens Sacked
Two traffic wardens were fired for not issuing enough parking tickets. Phil Mansell and Bruce Edwards were told by their council employers to improve their daily fines, but when they missed the target by nearly 20 tickets each they were sacked by Bromsgrove council. The ex-wardens said they did nothing wrong in not booking people who have overstayed their time limit by just a few minutes. "We were told to book police, ambulances and the Royal Mail."
3-Sep-04 Source: Daily Mail


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