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ASA rejects speed camera complaint

Thursday 13th June 2013

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint against a phrase used on the Scottish Safety Camera Programme Office (SSCPO) website that said “cameras save lives”.

The ruling was made by the ASA following a complaint about the phrase by Dorset Speed, which is described in the ASA ruling as “an anti-speed camera group”.

The phrase was used in association with the publication of an annual statistical bulletin for safety cameras in Scotland, produced by the Scottish Government.

Responding to the complaint, the SSCPO said the “figures were a matter of fact and reflected accident numbers at the camera sites included in the report, before and after the cameras were enforced”.

SSCPO went on to say that the bulletin “was compiled from information gathered at Scottish programme sites and made no claims about any causation factors attributed to either baseline or subsequent data or that reductions in casualties could be specifically attributed to safety cameras”.

After considering the statement and the data that underpinned it, the ASA did not uphold the complaint.

The ASA adjudication said: “Because the data supported the claim there had been a 68% reduction in KSIs at camera sites, as claimed on the website, we concluded the claim had been substantiated and was not misleading.”

No further action will be taken by the ASA.

NOTE FROM EDITOR: as this story is about an ASA ruling, we ask readers who wish to comment to base their comments on the ruling, rather than the wider merits or otherwise of speed cameras. Thank you for your cooperation.

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The concerns remain that lay people will be misled by the claims made by the camera lobby, and that there will be more casualties as a result. All the "ruling" proves is that ASA (at best) has been misled.
Andrew Fraser

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

You make a very good point Hugh, a point perhaps worth testing? A look at DorsetSpeed.org.uk shows that there is an advert so ASA jurisdiction may apply.

DorsetSpeed could add the statement “Speed cameras do not save lives”, with a link to their evidence. If someone were then to complain to the ASA, the ASA would surely have to force either DorsetSpeed or SSCPO to remove the claim they believed was not justified by the evidence.

What makes the current ASA adjudication seem strange to me is that I've known the ASA to remove ads that were entirely factual, but where the public may have formed a false impression. The ASA don't seem to have applied the same logic in this case.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (10) | Disagree (8)
+2

I daresay if one looked at Dorset Speed's website, one might find claims that are questionable and that would not necessarily stand up to scrutiny.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (8) | Disagree (8)
0

This is a strange adjudication. SSCPO website claims "Cameras save lives" View our recent research to find out why” but SSCPO admit that the linked page does not provide any evidence of the claim made. SSCPO instead claimed that previous ASA adjudications accepted the claim based on the four-year evaluation report.

This raises an observation and a question:
1) The ASA are saying that it is not misleading to make claims and present evidence even if the evidence does not support the claims, so long as different evidence by others can be cited upon request.
2) How can the ASA rule against misleading claims if they themselves were misled by the evidence?

In other words, the ASA have a difficult job of having to thoroughly research each claim made and they are bound to make mistakes.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (9) | Disagree (9)
0

There are technical limitations regarding what is in scope for bodies such as the ASA, and what constitutes advertising (press releases? websites?, etc). As this story confirms, partnerships and national speed camera bodies publish data designed to imply camera effectiveness when the results are in excess of what inanimate boxes slowing some cars to not exceed an arbitrary limit could ever achieve. That appears to be of no concern to the ASA. This decision will not stop determined road safety campaigners - it is more likely to spur them on.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans

Agree (10) | Disagree (12)
-2