Speed cameras kill.

years after leaving the UK and leaving one of my most popular websites - the Speedtrap Bible - behind me, the UK government have finally realised that what the Transport Research Laboratory and I had been saying since 1996 was true - speed isn't the primary cause of accidents, and speed cameras cause more accidents than they prevent.

The government have suspended the deployment of more speeds cameras pending the outcome of of a University College London probe into whether they actually save lives. Motorcycle News has revealed that road deaths have risen dramatically in those areas favoured with the most Gatsos. According to the MCN figures, Hertfordshire saw a 24% rise in speed camera numbers between 2003 and 2004. In the same period, road fatalities rose by 34% in the same area.
Likewise in Wiltshire, camera numbers went up 14%, and those killed went up 22%. In County Durham, meanwhile, a lone Gatso oversaw a 22% drop in fatalities. Oddly enough, the one gatso on its own was the only one actually at an accident black spot.

The national average increase for fatalities was 1.3%. Worse still - until 10 years ago, when the first cameras were introduced, fatalities were going down each year. Now they're going up. You do the maths.

In North Wales 56,247 speeding tickets were issued although this had little effect on safety; road deaths went up 18%.
The reason? Simple, and what I had on my website in 1996 : crashes are avoided by making a safe plan based on what you see. People get so distracted looking for cameras that it moves their attention away from hazards. The TRL - the government's own transport lab has been saying this for years, yet only now that its getting national press coverage is anyone taking notice.
It's been proven that vehicle-activated speed limit signs - the ones that flash a speed limit at you if you're going too fast - are three times more effective at slowing traffic down for accident hotspots. Yet until this week, the government persisted in putting more and more speed cameras out. Why? If the illuminated signs are more effective, why use cameras? Simple - money. I've maintained for a decade that speed cameras are revenue-earners. My site broke the story in 1996, and its never changed.
The knock-on effect of course is easy to see. Cameras will be banned and start to be removed and the police and local governments will start losing revenue they're used to getting now. So something else will go up in its place - petrol duty, council tax, parking fines - something will fill the void.

And people still get upset when we call Britain "Treasure Island".


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