Mixed results as DfT publishes safety camera data

09.49 | 24 August 2011 | | 7 comments

The DfT has published detailed information about casualty rates and speeds at safety camera sites, as part of the Government’s ‘drive to increase transparency’.

While casualty rates at some sites have worsened, other partnerships have achieved a reduction in crashes and injuries thanks to the introduction of cameras.

So far 75 local authorities have published information showing collision and casualty rates, and speeds at camera sites before and after the introduction of cameras. The DfT says that the remaining 72 authorities plan to publish their data in the next few weeks.

Mike Penning, road safety minister, said: "Local residents have a right to expect that when their council spends money on speed cameras, they publish information to show whether those cameras are helping to reduce accidents or not. I hope that this information will help local people to make informed judgments about the impact cameras are having on their local roads.

"However, residents can only hold their council to account if it has made information available so I would urge those councils which have not yet published their data to do so as soon as possible."

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: "This data must be used with care. The best speed cameras deliver lower speeds and fewer casualties without catching lots of drivers out.

"Any camera that consistently issues tickets clearly has location or signposting issues. No camera should ever be removed without a clear education or engineering solution to replace it."

Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said: “As far as can be seen, each partnership has published the information in a different format. It is therefore almost impossible to draw any real conclusions about the effectiveness or otherwise of cameras in any specific locations. It is also unclear as to what individual citizens can understand from the tables provided.

“I would urge the Department for Transport to look to a common format for any further publication to ensure that this is more than just a token exercise.”

Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, said: “Rigorous academic studies have shown fixed speed cameras are exceptionally effective in reducing speeds, crashes and casualties.

"These studies have also demonstrated that speed cameras pay for themselves several times over by preventing costly casualties. They are therefore a proven way to improve safety without costing the taxpayer.

“The information released today is incomplete and has not been academically analysed to produce an overall picture. Without this work, it’s impossible to make general statements on speed camera effectiveness using this data.

“Given the extensive evidence we already have on speed camera effectiveness, and on the relationship between speed and crashes, the Government’s focus should be on persuading drivers of the importance of staying within the law and making roads safer by slowing down.”

Click here to read the full DfT report.


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    In the interests of raising the quality of research may I ask Tony to read Prof Alsops report?

    Prof Alsops report is based on the 4 Year evaluation where he explains why he believes that the RTM estimate is wrong.

    He does this by taking incomplete data from 6 Partnerships (labelled A-F) and then applies a model to this.

    There are 2 major problems:

    1) He refuses to name the 6 Partnerships so there’s no way anyone can check his work. If I could get hold of the information to complete the data he has, I could verify his results but he’s keeping it secret.

    Evidence that we cannot check, is not evidence that we can rely on.

    2) I believe he may have admitted he has used the model in incorrectly.

    May I ask, have you read my analysis of the 4 Year evaluation? Can you find any errors?

    Mr Cardiff, There are many examples of people who broke the law that we now agree were right to do so. The law does not = safe.

    I simply analyse the evidence in order to find the effect of policies, law, enforcement and behavours with the aim of minimising death and suffering, but perhaps that’s because I’m an engineer rather than a politician or a Police officer?

    Dave Finney – Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    In the interest of “balance” to Dave Finney comments and weblink might I suggest the following

    In which Professor Alsop examines the effectiveness of cameras.

    Tony S, Bristol
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    Okay here goes let’s go straight for the kill on this one. I have to agree more time and money wasted on collecting the information and publishing it. However most people that are against cameras for speed management are against them because they don’t want to get caught out by them. If we look at another name for them “law enforcement cameras” it says it all. If you abide by the law you will not get caught by them, so in my case I’m a law abiding person that never has to be concerned by them!

    Let me take that one step further, I drive at an appropriate speed within the speed limit (an advanced driver to a very high standard) so I am not the person slamming on my brakes as I pass them because I know the speed limits and I drive at a safe speed always with high concentration levels.

    So all you law abiding drivers out there carry on being law abiding and you won’t get caught out by the cameras, will you?

    Drive at a safe speed within the speed limit and you won’t have to break hard as you pass these either. So again nothing to be worrying about.

    Conclusion: if your law abiding no need to worry or moan about cameras. If your not carry on moaning about them!

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    It looks like a whitewash…. again. Those LAs that have produced the required info have done it all in different ways and there can be no corellations made as to the effects of cameras.

    So just a paper excercise that will prove absolutely nothing.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
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    The view presented in this article is based on the premise that speed cameras should “work” (ie prevent collisions) but that some (where collisions increase or stay the same) for some strange reason do not work as well as the rest.

    For this to be valid there needs to be a compelling argument why a camera can prevent a collision (supported by examples of actual collisions where it could credibly be argued that “if only a camera had been installed …”). No such argument or examples exist.

    On the other hand, there is compelling argument and evidence that cameras can and do trigger erratic/distracted driving and hence contribute to collisions and near-misses. The current inquest into the death of a motorcyclist in Dorset is another tragic example of this. The authorities and “experts” (Highways Agency, TRL, Prof Richard Allsop) admit that cameras can cause collisions and it is inconceivable that they can magically prevent them as well.

    There are examples of true safety systems with proven benefits, which occasionally have negative consequences (the usual example is someone trapped by their seat belt when the car plunges into a river). But cameras are not in that category.

    The cameras where stats fall are clearly not “working” – other factors (such as regression to the mean, long term trends such as improved vehicle design, displacement as traffic avoids the cameras, etc) are clearly causing the falls.

    Eric Bridgstock, St Albans
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    Susan, I think you may be surprised just how little evidence there is that speed cameras reduce crashes.

    eg the governments own 4 year evaluation, the largest report on cameras in Britain.

    This report shows that speed cameras are not demonstrated to have saved any lives, and have not prevented any serious injuries though it does appear to have been written to deceive the reader:


    Dave Finney – Slough
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    There was me thinking this new Govt was all about ‘cutting red tape’? Historically the DfT published independent reports into the effectiveness of safety cameras (Safety Camera Annual reports). Why is it now that each local authority has to publish the self same information taking up time and limited resources? Political pandering to those groups who have continued to bleat on about the effectiveness of ‘speed cameras’ if you ask me, despite decades of evidence to prove that speed cameras do reduce speeds and do reduce crashes at known casualty hot spots. I would have thought that during times of financial austerity Govt would be encouraging local authorities to save money by reducing the number of reports/publications they issue – particularly if ‘more of the same’. Surely the money used in compiling these local studies, analysing the data and publishing it could be better used improve road safety generally?

    All those who do not support speed cameras (or more like do not want a speeding ticket!) please ‘raise your right foot!’….simples!

    Susan, Northamptonshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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