Friday, 29 June 2007

Government 'barking up wrong tree' with speed cameras

Sometimes the UK Government are so full of sh ‘it’ it just makes you want to weep! (Though this response will be by no means limited to just the UK government)

Paul Smith, of the Safe Speed Road Safety Campaign in the UK, started an e-petition to scrap so-called ‘road safety cameras’ - speed cameras or stealth taxation machines, to the average motorist.

It attracted over 28,000 signatures.

Nu-Labs response? Well basically they are not interested. You can read it all for yourself here.

They spin it like this say (pause for low-key dramatic music) ,“The facts are stark. If a child pedestrian is hit at 30mph they stand an 80% chance of surviving. But if they are hit at 40mph they stand an 80% chance of dying. That is why the Government is committed to achieving appropriate vehicle speeds on the roads as part of its integrated road safety strategy. “

OhKaaay… So how come so many of these ‘tax boxes’ are tucked in places that are difficult to spot on multi carriage 'A' roads and Motorways, where the speed limit is not 30 and where no one would be crossing and there would be no ‘if you hit me at 40’ little girls, or anyone else walking. They look, to the objective observer, rather more as if they have been placed to net as much money as possible.

Another point they are anxious to make is that: ”Safety cameras provide a valuable and cost-effective method of preventing, detecting and enforcing speed and traffic light offences. Very cost effective indeed - more like a massively profitable money spinning scheme! They net the state more than one billion pounds a year. They need to make up the loss of income on tobacco sales from somewhere.

Note the way they gratuitously lump the entirely different traffic light cameras in there because most people don’t have a quarrel with them - so you would have to be a bad irresponsible person who should be ashamed of themselves to object to them and they are ‘safety cameras’ too.

They go on: "Their use is based on solid evidence. All reliable research from around the world clearly demonstrates that cameras reduce speeds and save lives."

Not according to the governments own figures they don’t . Statistics released by the Department for Transport covering 2006 have led to serious questions about just how effective speed cameras’ really are, especially when figures for deaths were separated from serious injury.

Figures released yesterday show a 20 per cent increase in the number of children killed on the UK’s roads. These figures are based on police stats, which have generally dropped. If you look at hospital data it suggests road accident figures may be worse.

Paul Smith is suggesting that the Government have not been sophisticated enough in how they measured and interpreted the data. He believes they have actually been measuring improvement in vehicle safety, believing it to be because of the speed cameras - and lets face it they have a billion reasons to want it to be true.

He said: "The underlying story of the new road casualty figures is that we have received part of the benefit of improved car technology,"

He pointed out we should be seeing a more dramatic casualty reduction, in a different pattern - if the Government’s policies were actually based on accurate theory and really working as advertised.

"Road safety policy appears to have made matters worse because the only gains are in car occupant deaths.

"The problem is pedestrian, child and motorcyclist deaths are up. If the Government's policy was really working all these figures should have been coming down."

All this is being driven by yet another one of the Government's interminable ‘targets’, that end up distorting everything around them. In this case a pledge to reduce the number killed and seriously injured on the roads to 60% of the 1994 to 98 average by 2010.

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