Petition to scrap speed cameras reaches 20,000

A petition on the Downing Street website calling on the Prime Minister to scrap speed cameras has broken through the 20,000 figure, with a deadline for signatures set for June 29, 2007.

There is growing debate about the issue of cameras and laser guns. Cameras are certainly seen by many road users as a means to raise cash and the evidence that they have improved road safety is questionable at the least.

Government figures (Department of Transport) show that 'exceeding the speed limit' (which is what speed cameras check) is a factor in just 5% of accidents on our roads during 2005. (Do not fall into the trap of confusing 'exceeding the speed limit' with 'driving too fast for the conditions' - these are entirely separate issues.)

The low correlation of breaking the speed limit to safety certainly seems to relate to the statistics on speeding fines and the disappointing accident figures in recent years.

While speeding fines have rose by an amazing 61% between 2002 and 2003 there has been no commensurate improvement in road fatalities or accidents.

Indeed, if anything, the dramatic reduction in accidents over the past fifty years has come to something of a plateau at the same time as the authorities became fixated with speed limits.

But people shouldn't break speed limits anyway should they? Of course not.

So what is wrong with enforcing them rigidly?

I suppose the only concern is that we are:

  • encouraging people to believe that they are perfectly safe as long as they drive within the speed limit (70 mph I am OK, 75 mph I am a danger), rather than to think about how the way they are driving is demonstrably (see the statistics above - 85% of accidents were caused by other than speeding) the BIGGEST danger.
  • encouraging drivers to fix their eyes on the speedometer not the road - despite the fact that not looking (at the road) properly causes six times the the number of accidents caused by exceeding the speed limit.

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