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camera killers ?

11th November 2003

It's not every day that we find something in the car press that we feel appropriate to carry here. But this is an exception.


This is the conclusion Autocar magazine in association with the RAC Foundation has reached after carrying out extensive research into the speed camera debate.

Steve Sutcliffe, editor of Autocar magazine said: "Speed cameras are a £150 million failure. They do not deter drivers from speeding, are remarkably unsuccessful at saving lives and may well cause accidents of their own. Their presence has meant the removal of police from our roads, so thousands of serious driving offences now go undetected."

As an alternative Autocar believes speed cameras could even be putting lives at risk because:

  • there are no longer as many police cars on our roads because the police now rely too much on cameras to catch speeders, which means there are also…
  • more drunk drivers going undetected
  • more drugged drivers going undetected
  • more insurance fraudsters going undetected
  • more defective vehicles on our roads than ever before
  • therefore our roads have become more dangerous than ever to drive on BECAUSE there are so many cameras on them

Autocar has discovered that while the number of speeding drivers caught by cameras has risen four-fold to more than 1million since 1996, there has been a less than five per cent reduction in the number of road deaths.

Also, the most lethal 10 roads in the country (as designated by Euro RAP) are covered by just FOUR speed cameras.

"Accident figures show younger male drivers cause more accidents, but it is the middle-aged professionals between 45 – 54 that are being caught by cameras. People being caught by cameras are not the ones causing the accidents – so something is wrong with our policing," stated Edmund King, Executive Director, The RAC Foundation.

The reliance on the speed camera as the only form of policing is, Autocar believes, the root of the problem. Traffic police are being switched to other duties deemed more politically sensitive, with the cameras employed in their place: more serious road offences are therefore going largely undetected. Meanwhile, the otherwise law-abiding citizen is the one repeatedly punished for minor discretions, with the threat of losing their licence as well as their livelihood.

The lack of traffic police is illustrated by the dramatic fall in written warnings handed out to drivers of dangerous or unroadworthy vehicles, which has halved between 1996 and 2001. That equates to another half a million dangerous cars undetected. More worryingly, the lack of traffic police has led to a fall of 50,000 in the number of dangerous driving offences detected.

Autocar have forwarded its findings to the government and has suggested that the manifesto it has put together is taken on board as a starting point of a major serious campaign to cut road deaths. The 10 major points of the Autocar manifesto are:

1. Improve driver education and training

2. Position speed cameras in genuine black-spot areas

3. Get traffic police back on the road

4. Establish an expert body to set all speed limits

5. Improve the driving test

6. Give the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency more teeth

7. Implement a graded licence for new drivers

8. Revamp the licence penalty points system

9. Engineer existing roads for greater safety

10. Begin a major, sustained roads-building programme


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