A case study of how over-zealous speed limit reductions and hidden speed cameras fail to improve road safety at a junction where it could so easily have been done properly.

The Location
The A616(T) is part of one possible trans-Pennine route between Manchester and Sheffield, and consequently carries a large volume of traffic, including many HGVs.
The hamlet of Midhopestones in South Yorkshire lies on the southern side of the A616, except for one house. The main road through the hamlet intersects the A616 at a crossroads and then continues north to Penistone. As well as local traffic, the minor road carries significant recreational/tourist traffic as it is an access route to the moorland west of Sheffield.

The Danger
Traffic travelling south from Penistone on the minor road and wishing to cross the A616, is faced with a junction where the view of traffic approaching along the A616 from the west is obscured by both the garden wall of the afore-mentioned house, and the curvature of the road. This presented significant risk with busy traffic approaching at up to 60MPH.

The 'Solution'
In 2000 the speed limit for a short distance either side of the crossroads was reduced to 40MPH.
Speed cameras were installed either side of the junction.
For a mile or so East and West of Midhopestones, the speed limit on the A616 was reduced from NSLA to 50MPH.

Hidden Cameras
 
The speed camera intended to catch Eastbound traffic (which presents the problem to emerging traffic) is partially hidden by a traffic light used by a farmer when his livestock are crossing the road.
Traffic emerges from a hidden minor road immediately after the house on the left.
 
The camera intended to catch westbound traffic (which presents no hazard to emerging traffic) is totally hidden by the direction sign, though it's support post can be seen.
Traffic emerging from the right has a clear view of Westbound traffic.
 
 
By hiding the cameras the authorities demonstrate that their intention is not to reduce accidents but to raise revenue; no hidden camera ever prevented an accident.

Speed Limit
The 50MPH limit on the A616 East & West of Midhopestones is utterly unnecessary as the road is rural in nature, and has significant straight sections suitable for overtaking. By imposing an unnecessarily low speed limit on these sections of road, the authorities encourage drivers to view the speed limit with contempt. Whilst this presents no safety problems on these stretches, drivers are thereby incited to also treat the next speed limit with contempt, which happens to be the safety-motivated one watched over by hidden speed cameras.

 

The Right Solution
We consider the 40MPH speed limit to be appropriate for the vicinity of the crossroads, however, the ABD would like to see the speed cameras in full view, painted with flourescent and reflective strips, and marked with the speed limit, a speed camera sign, and the words "Dangerous Crossroads".
Drivers would then be left in no doubt as to the necessity to reduce their speed and watch out for crossing traffic.
Instead, at the very moment they should be paying attention to the road ahead, drivers are distracted by partially hidden cameras.
The 50MPH speed limit on the rest of the A616 East & West of Midhopestones must be scrapped and the road returned to NSLA. Speed limits will not be respected if they are set at an unnecessarily low level.
 

Update January 2003:
The sign that was completely obstructing the west bound camera has been moved.
Both cameras have been painted yellow.

 
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