Road Safety News
 

Safety cameras receive 'highest ever levels of support'

Wednesday 10th November 2010

Safety camera acceptance has risen 6% in the past 12 months, according to an AA members’ poll.

The AA Populus poll of 18,251 AA members shows that camera acceptance has risen from 69% in 2009 to 75% this year.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “The AA has been monitoring public acceptance of cameras for 10 years and the level of acceptance has been around 70%. This latest poll shows the highest ever levels of support.

“Perhaps speculation about turning off more cameras has ironically led to greater support. We hope that these findings are taken into account when government and local authorities are prioritising spending for the future.

“We have always said that cameras are just one part of the solution to make roads safer.  We also need to see wider police enforcement of dangerous driving, better engineering of accident blackspots and more comprehensive driver education.”

For more information contact AA public affairs on 01256 493 493.

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i've been doing 30 through roadworks on a dual carriageway, alone on a Sunday morning but kept to the speed limit and was nearly rammed by a an artic.

Cameras are like any new technology, in that they are hailed to be the magic cure.

If motorists are caught out because they haven't slowed down to the speed restriction sign in time safety campaigners appear to be saying that they will CONTINUE to drive over the speed limit regardless of any hazards they encounter, and not drop to the speed limit indicated. I know the line has to be drawn somewhere, but the police only appear to stick to where the speed limit changes and catch motorists out on technicalities of the law, rather than at other sites well inside the speed limit area. I'm sorry but I think it's the latest fashion to support cameras and advocates of speed cameras are chasing an abstract. I've seen plenty of other accident causing habits left untouched by the police.
Phil, Sunderland

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Clare

Your failure to describe a crash that could have credibly been prevented by a camera is noted.

The 88% claim has been exposed (by the Oxford Mail, and subsequently admitted by the Camera Partnership) as being completely bogus and misleading.

The introduction of cameras arrested the steady fall in road deaths that had occurred until 1995. They are a hazardous menace on the road.

Of course no-one brakes suddenly and heavitly for a speed sign - they are perfectly capable of observing reading the situation and will respond in a smooth and safe way. But suddenly spotting a camera that will result in a fine and points may cause them to react by hitting the brakes (even if they are within the limit). That's why they are bad for safe driving.

It is your head that is in the sand, not mine.

So, please describe a crash that could credibly be prevented by a camera. Without it your argument is built on that sand. Mine, on the other hand, is built on sound safety engineering principles.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

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The evidence is that cameras have been placed in areas to reduce speed, so lessen the seriousness of a RTC if one were to occur. Blaming a camera for a RTC is like a bad workman blaming his tools, If the camera were to jump out into your path I could understand it but a camera is fixed, in the same place. The evidence is also in knowing that since cameras have been switched off speed has increased by up to 88%. If you really believe that speed has nothing to do with deaths on our roads then you are burying your head in the sand. The association of british drivers continue to argue that a camera can cause a RTC, why then are their no RTC caused by speed restriction signs? Obviously the driver ignores the sign and only obeys the camera. Therefore we need the camera!!!
Clare Brixey, Somerset

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Clare

Brake (Katie Shepherd) confirmed to me that Brake receives money from speed camera manufacturers.

Brake promotes speed cameras without acknowledging the numerous (about 40) negative effects they have on road safety.

It is naive and wrong to assume that enforcing a law, by whatever means, automatically improves safety. I have provided countless arguments and evidence to support my view. You have provided nothing to support yours other than the simplistic Brake position.

All you need to do is find any crash where it could credibly argued that it would not have happened had a camera been present. I've asked dozens of people for such an example - nothing has been found.

On the contrary, even the most ardent speed camera proponent admits that cameras have contributed to, or even caused, crashes.

As a safety engineer, I conclude that speed cameras make a negative net contribution to road safety and need to be removed.

If you intend to contribute again, please respond to my challenge to describe an crash that could have credibly been prevented by a camera.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

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Brake is not funded by speed camera profits. Drivers need to understand that speed kills, reduce speed and save lives. Our roads were built for people to get from A to B, they were not built for race tracks. Obey the law, obey the limits, be a responsible driver. Speed cameras have never given me cause for concern as I always obey the legal limits. Anyone who finds a speed camera threatening can only want to break the law with out being caught "On camera".
Clare Brixey Somerset

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Tony
I agree on the need for driver training but not the "speed awareness" courses which preach a myopic "slow down" message. Training needs to focus on hazards, how to spot/recognise them, and how to deal with them.
We are not a nation of speeders - that has been artifically created by setting speed limits well below the 85%ile speed and deploying thousands of speed cameras. And the result has been disastrous for road safety (check the shallow fall in fatalities between 1995 and 2007).
I listed the evidence that cameras have contributed to collisions in an earlier posting.
My head has never been in the sand - it is looking over the heads of speed camera disciples. Cameras deserve to be in the "road safety arsenal" only if they make a positive contribution. They do not.
Decommission them and roll-out proper driver hazard perception training.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

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Clare

I was not twisting evidence - I was merely using an example (30 on a motorway) to disprove your assertion that "reducing speed will save lives". Such statements are wishful thinking and do not stand up to the mildest scrutiny.
And the same is true of virtually all of Brake's "road safety" advice. They are more interested in promoting the business of one of their key sponsors (a speed camera manufacturer).
Another point - slowing drivers to a speed well below where they would naturally drive will generate boiredom and fatigue - the seeds of crashes.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

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The simple fact is that we are a nation of speeders. An awful lot of drivers in this country have done nothing in the way of driver training since passing their test, and yet it is probably the most hazardous activity we participate in on a daily basis. Safety Cameras are just one tool in the Road Safety arsenal. Where is the evidence that Speed Cameras have caused collisions? No, poor driving, a lack of concentration, a lack of knowledge of the speed limit for the road you are travelling down and denial are the main culprits. Get your head out of the sand Eric, if you are serious about saving lives we should be pushing our government to introduce driver refresher tests and funding Speed Awareness courses for ALL drivers
Tony Stacey, Leicestershire

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Twisting the evidence to suit ones own aim is not the answer to saving lives. Nobody has suggested we should drive at 30 on a motorway. Drivers need to become more patient on the road, allow more time for their journey's instead of trying to make up time by speeding. It is common sense that driving at lower speeds will reduce the likely hood of a serious RTC. I will be very pleased to see Oxfordshire bring their cameras back into operation and I very much hope that others counties will follow suit.
Clare Brixey, Somerset

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Ms Brixey

Accidents result from a hazardous condition combined with a triggering event. Take away either and the accident is unlikely to occur.
In your example, a driver who is not paying full attention to the speed limit signs is the hazard, and the presence of a speed camera is the triggering event.
Whether you like it or not, the camera has contributed to the sudden braking and, possibly, a crash.
The camera is not improving safety, it is detrimental to it.

This is the real world and we should not be installing anything on the road that creates has a net negative effect - and cameras are top of that list.

"Reducing your speed will save lives" - this is typical of the over-simplistic preaching that comes from Brake. Try driving at 30 on the M4 and you'll soon see that slower is not automatically safer. Drive below the speed limit on many roads and you'll have drivers overtaking you, some who take chances.

Switching off and removing the cameras will significantly improve road safety.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

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The fact is that if all drivers were responsible and considerate then there would be no need for speed cameras, however there are many drivers on our roads who simply believe they are above the law and wish to set their own speed limit. Their attitude needs to change towards driving and these drivers need to wake up to the responsibily they have when driving on our roads. Speed kills so many innocent people every year, speed causes many innocent people serious/life changing injuries every year. Reducing your speed WILL save lives and prevent serious injuries. Drive at the correct speed set by law, then there would be no need for sudden braking at camera sites. Sudden braking at camera sites can only mean that the driver was not paying attention to the speed restriction signs before reaching the camera, therefore that is an error made by the irresponsible driver NOT the speed camera. No vehicle is dangerous on its own, it's only when you put a driver at the wheel who makes poor choices that the vehicle becomes danger. It is very much like a gun, in the wrong hands, someone will be killed or seriouly injured. Drivers of all ages need to be responsible, then and only then will we reduce the number of unneccesary deaths on our roads. Speed cameras play a vital part of road safety in this country, let's see them switched back on.
Clare Brixey, Somerset

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Ms Byford
Evidence that a speed camera can prevent collisions or casualties would start with finding a collision that could credibly have been prevented had a camera been present. This is basic safety engineering – an intervention has to be credible. No-one has found such a case. Without it, “cameras saving lives” is wishful thinking.
The so-called “evidence of camera effectiveness” is all at least five years old and was prepared by people with a vested interest in getting “the right answer”. None of it proves cameras have any positive effect.

On the contrary …

There are reports of deaths with speed cameras implicated.

Paul Smith identified 40 negative effects of speed cameras - all ignored by the wishful thinkers who believe that slower automatically equals safer and enforcing the law also must improve safety. Even if you don’t agree with one or two of Paul’s ideas, he is not wrong on all 40!

The Highways Agency Roads Works report in March 2008 confirmed that cameras created hazards such as bunching, sudden braking and distraction (you can see the negative effects of these on most journeys). That report also acknowledged no proven safety benefit and stated that drivers need to be educated in how to drive safely in the presence of [hazard] cameras.

Factors causing reductions of collisions after cameras installed include regression to the mean, long term trends (eg better vehicle deign and road improvements), under reporting of injuries, displacement (drivers choosing routes to avoid cameras). I've yet to see any report that accounts for all of those and then allocates what is left (hardly anything) to the camera. Claims of 70% falls due to cameras are fantasy, but are routinely cited by camera proponents.

So, there is no convincing current evidence of positive effects of cameras. There is plenty of evidence reported, and visible on the roads, of negative effects. As a safety engineer, I conclude with a very high degree of confidence that the net effect of speed cameras is detrimental to road safety and cameras have caused more collisions than they could ever prevent.

I will send material to support my case to your N Yorks email tonight.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

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There has been research into the effectiveness of safety cameras in reducing the number of collisions at the sites/routes on which they are used. Additional data is being produced - as with everything, the data follows the installations over time. I am always sceptical with any data and in particular look for gaps in the data, in case there is a significant ommission. So far, the evidence supports the contention that fixed and mobile safety cameras do reduce collisions at their sites. When is Mr Bridgstock going to provide the evidence "that cameras have caused more collisions and casualties than they could ever prevent"? Until he does, it is simply an assertion. I would like to assess his evidence to see if it does demonstrate his assertion as fact.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

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'Support' suggests a need to bolster something that lacks its own strength. Support can be applied to many things, even those that ultimately fail. Since the inception of speed cameras a reducing trend in fatal collisions has slowed and at times stalled. There is no evidence that any speed camera has prevented any accident - if there is, let it be shown, and not assumed figures that may be influenced by factors other than speed.

I could support Watford FC for the World Cup, does it mean they are in with a certain chance of winning?
Derek Reynolds, St Albans

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Ms Brixey is supported by the "charity" Brake, who have confirmed to me that they receive funding from speed camera manufacturers.

I stand to gain nothing financially from my research and contribution to this debate. My aim is solely to improve road safety.

No speed camera cause of death?
The coroners' reports into the deaths of Myra Nevett and Graham Davies identified speed cameras as being a cause of the crash (in Graham Davies's case, there was no reason to believe that he was exceeding the speed limit). There are plenty of other reports, such as film from mobile cameras, showing crashes as drivers react to the presence of cameras (again, not necessarily exceeding the speed limit).

People may "feel safe" with cameras on, Ms Brixey, but from a true road safety engineering point of view (likely number of collisions and casualties, they are actually LESS SAFE.

A report from the Highways Agency in 2008 confirmed that average speed cameras in roadworks caused distraction, sudden braking, bunching and sudden lane changing, and that there was no evidence of collision reduction. They also reported that fixed/mobile cameras were even more hazardous.

Let's call them "hazard cameras" as that is what they are.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

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Safety cameras have had a high level of support for a long time. They have proved over the years to slow traffic down and prevent serious road traffic collisions. All road safety experts support speed cameras for this very vital reason. There is only a very small amount of people who would like to see the back of them due to their own selfish reasons which has nothing to do with saving lives on our roads. Maybe cameras should be hidden from view so that drivers dont know where they are, so drive within the speed limit at all times. No speed camera has ever been the CAUSE of a RTC, they are caused by driver error. Speed cameras also offer a good re-education scheme that help drivers to be more aware of the dangers of speeding if they get caught. These drivers would not recieve this education if it were not for speed cameras. People feel safer knowing that our speed cameras are switched on!
Clare Brixey, Somerset

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In the world of safety, public support counts for nothing - what is needed is evidence of effectiveness (collisions and casualties) and a credible link to the intervention. Because obtaining such data is impossible (there is no evidence anywhere in the world that cameras improve road safety), speed camera supporters resort to "public support".

But the public do not know that cameras have caused more collisions and casualties than they could ever prevent, as they have been fed the "speed kills" and "cameras save lives" mantra for so long. And when people such as the AA ask leading/loaded questions (I am a subscriber to the AA Populous survey and have challenged Mr King on this), the responses will fit the required profile.

The AA promotes speed cameras because it creates "speed awareness course" business for its DriveTech arm.
Eric Bridgstock, St Albans

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