Increased Road Deaths Figures Demolish Darling's Camera Claims
We're Killing 100 more, not 100 less
Last week, Transport Minister Alastair Darling claimed that the speed cameras erected in the last three years under the "Cash for Cameras" scheme have saved 100 lives a year.
This week, his own department released figures showing that 100 MORE people were killed on Britain's roads than in 2000 - the year before the netting off scheme started.
"The 3508 road deaths in 2003 are the highest since 1997," said ABD safety spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie. "The Government uses nebulous statistical reports based on selective data to claim their policies are working, but when it comes to real life flesh and blood, there are 100 more people being killed than there were before they unleashed the camera partnerships on the unsuspecting British public. That's fact. These are real people and they have names and families. They aren't projections, forecasts or statistical estimates."
This position is much worse than it appears.
If previous trends of reducing deaths, established over many decades of improving road safety and traffic growth, had continued throughout the speed camera era, there would be 1000 fewer people being killed every year on Britain's roads. Not a hundred, a thousand!
And the trend should have continued - for three reasons:
- The same injuries are much less likely to be fatal because of massive improvements casualty treatment. This is estimated to be saving 500-800 lives a year compared with the early 1980s
- The same crash is much less likely to be fatal due to the equally huge strides in vehicle design. Government figures suggest, based on real data, that a crash in a car made in 1990 is twice as likely to result in serious injury to the occupants than one made in 2000.
- The same crashes can't happen due to changes in road engineering. Despite much money being wasted on traffic calming and speed limits, genuine road improvements which remove accident blackspots have still been happening.
"It has never been clearer that the Government has got things badly wrong in its road safety thinking," continues McArthur-Christie. "The root of the problem is that speed is blamed for far more accidents than it actually causes. Once again, statistical reports are used to support this position, but real investigations of real accidents show a very different story."
A Chief Constable who opposes fixed cameras was recently quoted as follows: "Speed in excess of a statutory limit is involved in less than 5% of accidents and most of these involve drunk,drugged, unlicenced drivers or stolen vehicles'.
Every other investigation of real causes of real accidents backs this position.
"The Government are using the wrong tools to improve road safety, and they are making things worse," concludes ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "Its time they stopped commissioning reports designed to demonstrate that their flawed policies are working and started listening to their critics."
The ABD believes that speed reduction policies, typified by limit reductions, cameras and traffic calming, are actively harmful to road safety for four key reasons.
1 Worse Drivers
The ability to judge road conditions and moderate speed accordingly, thus avoiding accidents, is fundamental to safe driving. All good road safety policy works with drivers to improve this. In contrast, speed reduction policies work against these key driving skills, regarding them as a bad thing, to be stamped out! Instead of looking at the road and choosing a speed that will allow them to avoid a child who runs out, drivers are told they must simply drive at one particular speed because a child hit at this speed will be less likely to be injured than if they were going 5mph faster! If this is achieved, then drivers become like bowling balls in a skittle alley - dumb missiles who mow down any child in their path at whatever speed they are projected along the road by the speed limit fixers.
2 Worse Roads
Instead of spending money on improving roads to make them safer and easier for everyone, speed reduction mentality encourages authorities to obstruct the roads, bringing motorised traffic into conflict with pedestrians and cyclists with often fatal results. Because the government has twisted accident causation statistics to retrospectively justify speed reduction policies, even when money is spent on improving the roads the wrong engineering solutions are frequently applied to accident blackspots, leading to an unnecessary continuation of fatalities.
3 Worse Policing
Police effort is diverted away from dealing with the dangerous drivers who cause many deaths. Instead of being drunk, unlicensed, drugged or reckless drivers who run red lights or overtake on blind bends, these people are redefined as "speeding" drivers to justify both mass, automated enforcement against safe drivers and the reallocation of police resource away from the badly needed, properly trained traffic officers who are competent to deal properly with the motoring public.
4 Worse Attitude
Because the official policy on speed is risible to anyone who has given the subject any thought, pub talk across the land is hostile to all road safety policy, leading to confusion amongst new drivers and the legitimisation of dangerous behaviour in areas such as drink driving and the inappropriate use of speed in residential areas.