On the website of Transport 2000 is to be found an ‘Activists Briefing’ about speed and road safety.
It claims to explain how to counter common motoring ‘myths’.
 
Transport 2000 is a pressure group funded by the public transport industry and transport unions which ostensibly campaigns in favour of public transport, but in fact takes more interest in measures to restrict motoring than it does in promoting alternatives to the car.
 
For many years, Transport 2000 and other like minded groups had little opposition — because they were very careful to construct a network of simplistic arguments which, though deeply misleading, were difficult to oppose clearly and effectively because they built on each other, and tended to be supported by emotive but not necessarily relevant examples.
 
The ABD took on the task of opposing these arguments, and has made life much more difficult for these groups. The result, as we see here, is that they are now having to justify their position much more rigorously. This, of course, gives us in the ABD the chance to reply. At last we have the public debate around these issues that T2000 and their supporters attempted for so long to suppress.
 
Safety is one of the areas where the debate is hotter than most, and that's the main subject of this Transport 2000 campaigners' guide, and it is a subject very dear to the ABD, many of whose members are advanced drivers who take great pride in driving safety and courteously.
 
Skilled drivers know that safe motoring is all about making sure that you have enough time and space to easily avoid likely hazards. This means drivers have to constantly adjust their speed according to what they see. Good road safety practice works with responsible drivers to help them judge what is a safe speed whilst penalising those who make no attempt to do so.
 
In Transport 2000's world, there is no such thing as a safe speed to travel at. They have no concept of observation, anticipation or avoidance. All they have is flawed statistics which falsely suggest that fewer accidents happen at lower speeds and, more truthfully but with little relevance, that less damage will be done if impact speeds are lower. These arguments are very convenient for them — because there are no absolutes in them. However slowly you drive, Transport 2000 can use their pet arguments to suggest that you are irresponsible and should drive slower. This is the road to safety ruin. All it can achieve is to turn Britain's drivers into the reckless incompetents that T2000 seem to think they are, and to set motorists in conflict with other road users.
 
The ABD isn't about to let that continue.
 
Here are the truths behind Transport 2000's ‘facts’:
 
Transport 2000 ‘Myths’ and ‘Facts’ ABD Truths
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"Safety cameras are cash-cows for the Government, in effect a stealth tax, especially when they are used on motorways or dual carriageways outside towns or villages."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:
In the year 2000 over 1 million fixed penalty tickets were issued and the estimated revenue from them was about £44.3 million. There were also 139,200 fines from court proceedings for speeding worth about £18 million. The total fines for speeding for the year 2000 were therefore about £62.8 million. For comparison, the receipts of the Inland Revenue for the 1999-2000 tax year amounted to £148,860 million. Clearly, fines for speeding are insignificant in comparison with general taxation. Furthermore, not all fines are collected and no account is taken of safety camera running costs.
It is misleading to call fines for breaking the law `taxes', as law abiding citizens don't have to pay them. Safety cameras operating with safety camera partnership areas now cover 42 out of 43 police authorities. Police authorities do not 'make money' out of cameras: they simply recoup the costs of installing and running them. Overall safety cameras save us money. The Government estimates that each person killed on the road costs over £1 million in pain and suffering, lost output, hospital costs, police costs and damage to property.
Truth
Camera partnerships are run as businesses, and their primary source of revenue is from camera generated fines. Businesses always seek to maximise their revenues so that they can make profits or expand their bureaucracies. Camera partnerships are no exception — the more money they make, the more they can spend on themselves and the more activities the local authority can divert into the partnership, releasing council tax money for other purposes. Camera partnerships therefore have a vested interest in maximising fine revenue ahead of safety.
 
Northamptonshire, one of the pilot areas, deliberately switched enforcement to the M1 and A14 to raise money from passing traffic in order to avoid political fallout from the local people who were initially targeted.
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"Safety cameras don't save lives. Quite the opposite: when motorists see the cameras they suddenly brake hard, which is dangerous."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:
Motorists should be driving within the speed limits so there is no need to brake hard at safety cameras if the law is being observed. Skilled drivers do not drive above the limit: they know the law and the consequences of car crashes. About half the people hit by a vehicle travelling at 30mph will die; hit at 40mph, nine out of ten will die.
Speed limits are intended to provide a safe road environment for all road-users including other motorists. Latest Government figures from the pilot safety camera sites have found that cameras have reduced the number of people killed or seriously injured by 35 per cent. For Northamptonshire alone, 105 fewer people were killed and seriously injured on the county's roads in the first year of the safety camera scheme than in the previous year.
Truth
Since 1995, road deaths in Britain have remained constant despite continual improvements in crash worthiness of vehicles and critical care of casualties, both of which mean that many accidents that would previously have been fatal are no longer so. Despite unprecedented investment in local road safety schemes, road deaths have stopped falling. In fact, fatalities have increased in many camera partnership areas — including Northamptonshire where deaths increased by 35% in 2002. The second and the fourth worst years in the last ten have been under the camera partnership regime in that county.
As we see here, camera supporters have tried to obfuscate these tragedies by combining deaths with "serious" injuries. The official definition of a serious injury was recently described by PACTS Executive Director Robert Gifford as "very broad":
(a) an injury for which a person is detained in hospital as an in-patient
or (b) any of the following injuries (whether or not the person is detained in hospital): fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushings, severe cuts and lacerations, severe general shock requiring treatment.
 
It is clear from these definitions that the number of "serious injuries" can be affected by hospital admission policies and by the judgement of the officer recording details of the accident. An Essex police officer recently alleged that partnership statisticians were exerting pressure on officers to record fewer serious and more slight injuries. Health authorities are also members of the Camera Partnerships, and they control admissions policies.
 
So cameras are not saving lives. In fact Susan Beck, who heads up the Camera Partnerships' PR effort, actually admitted that the partnerships were not tasked to reduce deaths but to lower the combined total of deaths and "serious" injuries.
 
The reason why cameras don't work is clear from the arguments used here to support them.
 
It may well be true that half of pedestrians are killed in a 30mph impact as opposed to 90% at 40mph, but in real life most potential collisions are avoided altogether, because drivers are adjusting their speed continually to give them enough time and space to allow for pedestrian error.
 
But this impact speed factoid is used by misguided campaigners to lower speed limits, set way below this safe speed, ignoring basic facts about accident avoidance. Forcing compliance with these limits prevents drivers from judging speeds correctly, leading to inappropriate but still legal speeds in very tight urban situations, whilst at the same time reducing their observation skills to a level which is incapable of avoiding pedestrians even when they have ample time to do so.
 
Quoting impact speed effects at 40mph and 30mph achieves nothing but to make knocking people down at 30mph into a road safety target.
 
Skilled drivers set their speed according to the conditions and adjust it in response to hazards so as to ensure they have sufficient room to avoid collisions. In doing so they will inevitably break a badly set limit — and 95% of police, magistrates and driving instructors admit that they break limits for this reason.
 
As for suggesting that "people shouldn't have to brake hard for cameras because they should be sticking to the limit", you might as well say there is no need for cameras because people should be sticking to the limit! A totally fatuous and circular argument from an intellectually bankrupt philosophy.
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"The use of safety cameras means there are fewer traffic police. When there were traffic police, they would catch real criminals speeding not unlucky motorists."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:
Traffic policing became less of a priority when the Government removed it as a core duty for the police. There is a need for greater traffic policing and it can be useful in catching criminals who are also breaking the law by speeding. Drivers who break the law by speeding are usually fined and penalty points are added to their licence. Generally, a motorist would have to be caught speeding four times before losing his or her licence, so there's plenty of warning. Speeding is not a `victimless crime'. Fixed speed cameras in particular free up police time to respond to other violations in traffic and other areas of criminal law.
Truth
Traffic police used to be much better trained and would generally target those drivers who were causing danger to others or who were not paying proper attention. This improved driving standards and led to support and respect for the police amongst responsible members of the public.
 
The reason why traffic policing became less of a priority is because the government became wrongly convinced that cameras were the answer to road safety. As a result, driving skills amongst traffic police have fallen, leading to more police accidents; and the focus has shifted away from dealing with dangerous driving in favour of issuing large numbers of speeding tickets in safe circumstances.
 
Most of the speeding tickets which are issued are nothing to do with safety. What is happening is that an accident involving one drunk driver travelling at 90mph is used as an excuse to criminalise 100,000 safe drivers for travelling at much lower speeds which have never and could not conceivably cause an accident in that location.
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"Speed doesn't cause accidents. There are more important contributing factors to crashes like drunkenness, tiredness or just plain boredom at driving slowly."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:
Speeding is not only unlawful but irresponsible and threatens other motorists and road users who want to travel safely. Government advice is that drivers need to take regular breaks to avoid tiredness, and drink-driving is illegal and dangerous. Many drivers don't realise that speed is responsible for more deaths than drink-driving.
In the year 2002, 59 per cent of drivers exceeded the 30mph speed limit in urban areas, down from 65 per cent in 2001. In 2002, 3431 people lost their lives on our roads: a third of these fatal crashes were due to excessive speed and 179 of the dead were children. The Association of Chief Police Officers says that speed is the most important factor in road crashes, more so than even drink or drug driving.
Truth
Every road user has a duty to take responsibility for their own safety. Those who do this have nothing to fear from the overwhelming majority of other road users. There is aggressive and reckless behaviour out there which can justifiably make such people feel threatened, and this is best dealt with by properly trained police officers. But to suggest that the behaviour of 65% of drivers comes into this category is absurd.
 
If this fall, in 2002, from 65% to 59% of drivers breaking 30mph limits is genuine and based on proper sampling, it is highly significant statistically — a very real reduction in urban speeds. However, the trend in fatalities was absolutely flat — no significant variation.
 
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So this apparent reduction in urban speeds was not reflected in a fall in overall fatalities.
 
Of course it is misleading to lump all 30mph limits together like this. There are many places where 30mph would be a suicidally high speed and would threaten pedestrians who were sharing roadspace with vehicles. Pedestrians would typically greatly overestimate the speed of passing traffic in such places, and almost no drivers would be exceeding 30mph. Those that were should rightly be prosecuted.
Equally there are other places, where there are wide verges and good visibility, where a vehicle would have to be travelling at very high speeds in order to stand any chance of threatening other road users. Typically, observers would underestimate the speed of vehicles and would not perceive any increased risk from normal traffic speeds, which would be well in excess of 30mph.
 
Speed cameras tend to be placed in this second type of location, using accidents which are nothing to do with the speed of normal traffic in justification.
 
Of course, all road users should also make reasonable allowances for the behaviour and mistakes of other road users. For example, drivers need to allow for children stepping into the road from behind parked cars, whilst pedestrians should not simply march across pedestrian crossings without looking.
 
Enforcing badly set limits in safe locations simply encourages drivers to stick rigidly to the limit — or worse, speed up — in places where children are likely to run into their braking space.
 
Of course it is illegal to break speed limits — but in a democracy laws should not exist which criminalise the safe behaviour of reasonable people.
 
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"Statistics show that counties with many safety cameras have no better accident figures than those with a few."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:
There are many factors that contribute to crashes and comparing one county with another may not be particularly meaningful. It is, however, meaningful to compare the crash figures for a particular site before and after the installation of safety cameras. Government figures show that more than 800 separate before-and-after speed surveys at over 100 camera sites "demonstrate that cameras do reduce speed and a consequential reduction in casualties should be expected".
Truth
There are indeed many factors which contribute to crashes — something that supporters of cameras seem to forget when quoting statistics that seem to support their viewpoint. In fact, Chief Constable Brunstrom himself should read the Transport 2000 campaigners' guide because he recently attempted to favourably compare statistics in North Wales with those in Durham, where his colleague is opposed to cameras. On further examination of the figures, Brunstrom's comparison was, as Transport 2000 rightly predict, flawed, with no real difference being apparent between the two police areas.
 
However, in a context where grandiose claims are made for the safety effects of cameras, it is reasonable to expect that significant reductions in fatalities should occur in counties which wholeheartedly embrace them. If this is not the case, then the onus is on the camera partnerships to explain why.
 
It is only meaningful to compare "before" and "after" figures for a camera site if the sites are chosen at random. But as Transport 2000 tell us later on in their campaigners' guide, camera partnerships have to wait for a jump in accidents before they can place a camera in a particular location. Anyone with any knowledge of statistics will tell you that selecting a sample on this basis is certain to give a false positive result   there is even a name for it — "Regression to the Mean". This explains why the authorities can claim that cameras have saved lives when the overall number of deaths in a wider area has increased — their "experiments" are distorted by choosing locations for cameras where the number of accidents would have fallen anyway.
 
Its also interesting to see here that they only claim a reduction in speed at the camera after it was installed — not surprising! They PRESUME that this will be followed by a reduction in casualties — they havent measured it. Funny how when you already know the answer you can trump up "evidence" to support your prejudice!
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"Research by the Government-funded Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), an internationally recognised research establishment, shows that speed is a factor in only 7 per cent of accidents, not a third as some claim."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:
There has been much misquoting of the Transport Research Laboratory's (TRL's) findings, particularly one of its reports, No. 323. TRL recently wrote: "Speed increases the impact of many factors which contribute to accidents. For example, `aggressive driving' or `driving too closely' are both much worse at speedů Misunderstandings in the press appear to have resulted in two ways. First, speed identified as a separate factor in its own right was present in 15 per cent of accidents, not 7.3 per cent, or lower figures that are often misquoted. Second, the 15 per cent is only one part of the total effect of speed on accidents. When allowance is made for all the other speed-dependent factors, the contribution is, we believe, much greater." Marie Taylor, Group Manager of research into speed and accidents at TRL, said of their numerous studies over the past decade into the relationship between speed and crashes that: "The results from each of the studies show unambiguously that higher speeds are associated with more accidents." The research at TRL has found that "excessive speed was recorded as a factor in more than a third of fatal accidents" and that "the true effect of speed is likely to be even greater than this".
Truth
The TRL accepted that the ABD had correctly interpreted report TRL323 in its press release, even if some consequent reports did not. Transport 2000 have in fact misquoted the report here — speed accounted for 7% of accident causation factors (up to 4 per accident), not 7% of accidents, but was the primary causal factor in 4.3% of accidents.
 
There are two kinds of prevalent research into accident causation.
 
The first technique, favoured by the Government and the TRL, ignores individual accidents, instead tries to demonstrate statistical links between the number of accidents and the speed of traffic. Sometimes this is done on a "before and after" basis, more often by comparing speeds and accidents on different roads. These comparisons, as Transport 2000 quite rightly say, are "not particularly meaningful" as "there are many factors which contribute to crashes." We couldn't put it better ourselves.
 
The second technique is to examine individual accident reports using the "Stats 19" police form, and then attempt to establish patterns of causation.
 
This latter approach would seem a much more productive way to understand rare events with complex multiple causes, but the TRL seem reluctant to investigate accidents in this sensible way. The only exception, report TRL323, was not commissioned to investigate accidents, but to trial a new, more comprehensive form for officers to fill in whilst attending roadside incidents. Unbelievably, the DfT initially tried to use this fact to discredit the results of TRL323! They dropped this line of reasoning as soon as they realised that it looked very like an admission that their research was usually commissioned to "prove" their own preconceptions rather than approach the problem with an open mind.
 
But it is not just TRL323. Whenever a proper examination of accident causation is undertaken, speed is attributed as the cause in well under 10% of cases. The West Midlands accident statistics and the recent investigation by Durham police are good examples.
 
It is quite laughable to see the mental gymnastics that the TRL and DfT undertake in their attempts to get around facts that do not support their preconceptions.
 
First, when speed is quoted as the third or fourth factor in an accident, they try to elevate it above the true causes. When a drunk driver loses control of his car, his speed is too high because of the effects of alcohol in impairing his judgement. The policeman filling in the form has quite clearly got the factors in the right order! To suggest, as the TRL are here, that the driver was drunk because he was going too fast is not only absurd, it has the effect of reducing the priority given to tackling drink driving.
 
Second, they attempt to define primary causes of accidents as speed related in order to make up the proportion of speed related accidents to the magic one third! They mention aggressive driving and close following, which clearly bear no relation to the choice of speed on an empty road, but the biggest one, not mentioned here, is where they claim that someone carelessly exiting a junction who claims to have misjudged the path or speed of the vehicle they hit. That's speed related, according to the DfT! Since this is the single biggest cause of accidents, and since every careless driver who pulls out in front of someone claims that the other vehicle was speeding, when in fact they have no clue how fast the vehicle was going because they didn't look. When desperate manipulations such as these are employed, its easy to see how the DfT manages to bridge the gap between 4.3% and 33% of accidents "caused" by speed.
As we said — laughable. But when it is used to justify putting speed cameras near junctions instead of engineering them properly, and people continue to be killed unnecessarily, its not funny at all.
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"The public don't want safety cameras and most people break the speed limits."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:
Many people want their neighbourhood to be places free of danger from speeding traffic. In the safety camera partnerships, requests from the public for safety cameras to be introduced in their areas "substantially exceeded the number of complaints about their operation". An AA-commissioned survey showed 44 per cent believed that there should be more spending on Government campaigns for slower speeds in towns.
A MORI poll of 2000 drivers' opinions of speed cameras revealed that seven out of ten drivers already accept that well-placed cameras are a useful way of reducing crashes and saving lives, while 80 per cent of drivers do not believe that cameras are an infringement on people's civil liberties.
In 2002 a YouGov/Transport 2000 poll of Londoners showed that 75 per cent of people questioned thought there should be more speed cameras on roads where speeding is a problem.
Truth
It is interesting to contrast the quoted surveys with a recent one that claimed that 57% of drivers would turn a blind eye if they saw someone destroying a roadside camera! In a recent Autoexpress survey, 86% of motorists were opposed to more cameras on Britain's roads — pretty clear cut!
 
There are three reasons why different surveys result in apparently conflicting responses.
 
1 Leading questions. Many of the surveys conducted into cameras are structured so that it is impossible for the respondent to express opposition to cameras without saying that speed can never cause an accident in any circumstances, or even that they don't care about children being killed. The ABD have seen surveys which even they could not answer honestly without appearing to be in favour of cameras!
 
2 Received wisdom. Many of the respondents to such questionnaires are people who don't drive much or think about driving issues. Their only input on the subject is the millions of pounds that the government has spent on erroneous road safety campaigns in support of the speed kills message. Its not surprising that they respond in favour of cameras until something happens to alert them to what is really going on. Then, support for cameras falls. AA surveys predating the camera partnerships have suggested that 80% were in favour of cameras, but that this fell to 50% when the operators were allowed to keep the fines. T2000 can only quote 70% support in the more recent MORI poll, and this is heavily qualified by the need for the cameras to be "well placed". As the truth about cameras becomes more widely known, support will fall even in this type of survey.
 
3 Hypocrisy. Many people complain about traffic speeds near their homes, and this is sometimes justified. However, these are the same people who are "speeding" past other people's homes. When police set up a radar trap at the behest of local residents, the people they catch are mostly — local residents! Often, the very people who have requested the enforcement are themselves caught by it. People know that the speed they are travelling at is safe so they do not associate themselves with the view of speed that is put over in government propaganda, which is either completely false or only applies to much higher speeds. Once they realise this dichotomy, their view of enforcement changes.
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"Safety cameras should be brightly painted and not hidden. If cameras are meant to reduce speeds then they should be highly visible so drivers slow down."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:
The Government's decision to paint safety cameras brightly was apparently an arbitrary decision taken without supporting research. Indeed, research undertaken in New Zealand between mid-1997 and mid-2000 compared the relative effectiveness of hidden versus visible safety cameras. Perhaps not unexpectedly it found that hidden cameras caught about four times as many speeding vehicles. However, it also found that when cameras were hidden there was less speeding in areas away from the immediate camera area, ie speed reduction occurred over a larger part of the road network when cameras were hidden. In addition, after ten years of intensified speed enforcement, the Victoria Project in Australia has switched to highly covert operations. This was because drivers were only complying with speed limits in the presence of cameras. In all other locations speeding continued to be a problem.
Truth
The British Government has consistently "sold" cameras to the public on the basis that they are:
1 Located where there is a history of accidents caused by speeding — so called blackspots
2 There to act as a deterrent, making drivers slow down in dangerous locations, rather than to catch large numbers of drivers
Whatever the reality about camera usage, these were the government's clearly stated aims and this was the basis on which the police, motoring organisations and the public supported the concept of cameras.
 
The reason that the government responded so quickly to the ABD's "Bright Gatsos" campaign was precisely because of this established position. Hidden cameras are by definition not a deterrent, and it is difficult to justify speed being a problem in locations where no speed related accidents have happened. Politically, the government needed to be seen to be complying with their stated aims in order to maintain public support.
 
From a safety viewpoint, speed control is all about recognising hazards and moderating speed appropriately to negotiate the hazard safely. Speed limits and other road signs are supposed to assist drivers in doing this — 30mph signifying entering a built up area with development in depth on both sides of the road, or a bend sign with an advisory limit both being powerful safety tools. However, with limits being reduced on a blanket basis to inappropriate levels and far too many unnecessary signs being erected, much of this benefit is lost in the current environment. In the absence of a fix for this problem, speed cameras have a useful role to play in identifying dangerous locations and encouraging drivers to moderate their speed in these places. To maximise this safety benefit, they should be both highly visible and the reason why that speed reduction is necessary at that point must be clearly stated.
 
To use hidden cameras to enforce inappropriate limits has no safety benefit whatsoever, and is purely a tool to intimidate road users and reduce their ability to judge safe speeds correctly.
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"Speed limits are a one-size-fits-all approach which isn't suited to individual roads. Good drivers can judge what the appropriate speed for individual circumstances."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:Speed limits are maximum speeds and in some circumstances driving near those speeds is reckless. Other road users don't expect to have additional risks of speeding vehicles imposed upon them without their consent. If drivers wish to drive at speed then motor sports offer these opportunities away from the public highway. Generally speaking, a 1mph reduction in traffic speed results in an average 5 per cent reduction in crashes.
Truth
The ability of drivers to judge road conditions and adjust speed accordingly is fundamental to safe driving. Speed limits which hinder this process by being set too low are working against road safety. Motorsport has little to do with the process of driving safely and quickly on the highway, and is a leisure activity for some rather than a life skill for all.
 
The phrase "a 1mph reduction in speed leads to a 5% fall in accidents" is a classic example of how the supporters of speed reduction policies ignore the results of accident causation analysis and rely on manipulation of high level statistics to suit their agenda. This 1mph 5% conclusion is attributed to a deeply flawed study carried out under the auspices of the TRL, in the early 1990s which was easily discredited by the ABD. The TRL made no attempt to defend S285 against the ABD's attacks. Instead, they commissioned two new reports, TRL421 and TRL511, which attempted to "prove" this link in more robust studies.
 
Both studies show clear signs of being structured to reach a pre-determined conclusion. Each compares speeds and accident rates on different but supposedly similar roads. The result, unsurprisingly, produces nice graphs in support of the 1mph 5% rule! This is a fundamentally flawed approach — if the roads being compared were the same, then why would the average speeds be different?
 
TRL 511, dealing with rural roads, initially shows the opposite of what the authors were looking for — lower accident rates on faster roads. Not to be deterred, the "researchers" split the roads into four groups which were supposed to have "similar" hazard spreads and claim that, within each of these groups of roads, accidents increase with average speed. All this shows with any certainty is that accidents are more likely to happen where hazards such as bends and junctions exist! The speed/accident relationship comparisons are flawed because, whist they adjust the accident rates for traffic volumes (if you double traffic you don't double the number of accidents) they don't adjust the speeds in the same way (double the traffic you inevitably reduce the average speed!)
 
These reports are being used to justify ever lower speed limits and more enforcement in place of measures to improve hazards by engineering and signage, and in place of measures to improve driving standards.
T2000 ‘Myth’:
"Safety cameras are often wrongly sited; in fact, often the safest roads have cameras, not the most dangerous."

 
T2000 ‘Fact’:Some commentators seem to have missed the point: safety cameras make roads safer. If roads are safer with safety cameras this is a testament to the value and effectiveness of safety cameras. Furthermore, Government guidelines for the safety camera partnerships require four deaths or serious injuries or eight less serious injuries at a site for a safety camera to be installed.
Truth
The facts remain that cameras have had no effect on the number of people killed on Britain's roads — and everyone can see that many cameras are sited where they can have no effect on safety but will simply catch out safe drivers, because the speed limit is underposted.
 
The point made is that the roads with the cameras were the safest BEFORE the cameras were installed! There are even cameras which have been installed on brand new roads where no accidents have occurred! Another favourite trick is to install cameras AFTER engineering improvements have been made which have totally removed the possibility of the accidents being repeated — typically crossover points on dual carriageways.
Deaths and injuries on the roads are simply being used as an excuse to site cameras in places where normal, safe drivers who are paying full attention to the road will be exceeding a badly set speed limit. This is undermining road safety and leading directly to higher road casualties than there would otherwise be.

 
 
 
Ten reasons why Transport 2000 think people should cut their driving speed and ten answers from the ABD!
T2000 Reason 1
Excessive or inappropriate speed is a major cause of road crashes. A 1mph increase in average speed has been shown to result in an average 5 per cent increase in crashes. Even if one takes the very conservative view that a third of crashes are caused by speed, this still means that in 2002 at least 1140 people were killed and 11,990 people were seriously injured in road crashes where speed was a contributory factor. Proportionally, this would translate into 275 pedestrian deaths, of which 35 were children, and 46 cyclist deaths in 2001 in crashes involving speed. Lower speeds reduce both the frequency of collisions and their severity. Hull City Council's widespread 20mph zones have resulted in a 38.5 per cent reduction in child casualties, clearly showing a very strong link between speed reduction and casualty reduction. Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) says that a reduction of 2mph in the average speed on the road network would save 200 lives a year.
ABD Answer 1
As we have established, proper examination of the police accident reports demonstrates that less than ten percent of accidents are caused by excessive speed, and, in Avon and Somerset, 70% of these happen within the speed limit. The residue of excessive speed related accidents usually have significant aggravating factors such as drink, drugs or unlicensed drivers. So there is no need for most drivers to cut their speed. In fact, by concentrating on cutting their speed by a few mph, most drivers would make themselves much more likely to have a collision, or to have one at a higher speed due to later braking, because their attention would be taken away from the road and onto their speedometer.
 
The apparent reduction in accidents in some 20mph zones is mainly the result of drivers choosing to avoid these roads with their traffic 'calming' features. It is the reduction in traffic levels, not the lower speed limit, that accounts for these accident reductions, which are cancelled out by increases in accidents on the roads to which traffic transfers. This is why the claimed success of traffic calming schemes is not reflected in area-wide casualty figures.
T2000 Reason 2
More fuel is burnt at higher speeds, resulting in more air pollution and impacting on health. Driving at 50mph instead of 70mph can reduce fuel consumption by 30 per cent. As speed increases above 30mph it results in an increase in carbon dioxide emissions. The Government is committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2010, and the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution recommends a 60 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Emissions from transport are currently the fastest growing source of greenhouse gases in the UK. Road traffic is the single largest source of air pollution. As many as 24,100 deaths each year are exacerbated by air pollution.
ABD Answer 2
The suggestion that 24,100 deaths are exacerbated by air pollution is deeply misleading — this comes from a report that suggested people already dying of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases might die a few hours or days earlier on days of poor air quality. There was no suggestion that air pollution levels caused these diseases, and the report was at pains to point out that the link was purely statistical.
Modern cars are most economical at the lowest speed at which they can pull top gear — typically between 40 and 50mph these days. Fuel consumption increases with speed above this, but the CO2 output of the vehicle fleet is reducing due to great leaps in diesel technology. Cutting CO2 emissions may be a laudable aim, but nowhere is it done at the expense of people's quality of life. Reducing open road speeds would rob hardworking people of large amounts of time, and if this is needed, why are Transport 2000 not campaigning for lower train and bus speeds for the same reason?
T2000 Reason 3
Driving fast creates more traffic noise. Road traffic is the most important source of noise nuisance and tyre noise increases with speed. Road traffic noise is known to cause stress, poor sleep and mild psychiatric illness.
ABD Answer 3
Modern roads should be built with proper noise barriers and quieter surfaces — if they are not then that is because of the under-investment in the road network that has been encouraged by Transport 2000. Rail noise is also intrusive, but T2000 are once more not campaigning for slower trains.
T2000 Reason 4
Fast moving traffic severs communities. Busy roads can divide local communities, literally cutting them in half. Children and elderly people are especially affected. The faster the traffic is moving, the harder it is to cross the road, increasing the risk to the pedestrian. Many elderly and disabled people literally do not have the mobility to cross roads fast enough between breaks in traffic and so are cut off. CPRE research has shown that 83 per cent of authorities have no comprehensive strategy to introduce 30mph speed limits in villages. Many village high streets and through roads still have 40 or 60mph speed limits. With these kinds of speeds it is virtually impossible to cross the road without controlled crossing.
ABD Answer 4
It is Transport 2000 who oppose the building of properly engineered urban roads, which separate pedestrians and traffic by landscaping in underpasses. They also oppose the building of bypasses around villages and towns, many of which have been planned for 40 years and are desperately needed. Instead, they support the installation of road humps and other obstructions which cause increased noise, pollution and danger to cyclists in particular, and which create additional congestion.
It is false to suggest that traffic speeds make it more difficult to cross a road. It is traffic volume that does this. Forcing slower speeds will make traffic all travel at the same speed and therefore be evenly spaced instead of bunched, resulting in fewer gaps to safely cross. Speed limits should be appropriate to the width of the road, the nature of the development on both sides and the peripheral visibility accorded to the driver. If traffic levels are too high to cross safely, then the road should be re-engineered so that people do not have to cross. Controlled crossings are acceptable on more minor roads, but are less inherently safe than total separation — the ABD condemns councils who have removed subways and introduced controlled crossings in their place — this is simply using pedestrians as cannon fodder as part of a wider policy to obstruct motorists.
T2000 Reason 5
High traffic speeds suppress cycling and walking. A MORI poll found that 44 per cent of people said they would cycle more if roads were safer and 26 per cent would travel less by car if the conditions for walking locally were better. High traffic speed not only intimidates cyclists and pedestrians, but the higher the speed, the greater the severity of injury on impact. If a cyclist or pedestrian is hit by a vehicle travelling at 40mph, they only have a 15 per cent chance of survival; if hit at 20mph they have a 95 per cent chance of survival. Cyclists' and pedestrians' fears about speed and road safety are based on a reality that Britain has one of the proportionally worst track records for cyclist and pedestrian fatality levels in Europe.
ABD Answer 5
Recent research suggested that 20mph zones failed to increase the levels of walking and cycling, so the answers given by people in these polls are clearly flawed. What is happening is that people's fears are being unreasonably exaggerated by the actions of groups like T2000. Yes, pedestrians and cyclists should be aware of the likely hazards, but they should also be taught that, if they take reasonable responsibility for their own safety, they have nothing to fear from normal traffic. They are not being taught that because anti car campaigners have a vested interest in these unreasonable fears, and will therefore do nothing to assuage them. Cyclists, in particular, have nothing to fear from the speed of traffic so long as that speed is in proportion to the distance at which the vehicle passes them. They have everything to fear, on the other hand, from drivers who are concentrating on complying with unreasonable speed limits and who therefore don't see them.
T2000 Reason 6
Speeding traffic reduces the mobility of children. Children want to be able to play in the areas near to where they live, to walk or cycle to school, to be able to walk round to their friend's house, but parents' fears about speeding traffic and road safety prevent children being independently mobile. Parents' fears are not irrational: in Britain in 2002 the police reported 2800 serious child pedestrian casualties. Research has shown that fear of traffic, and of speeding traffic in particular, leads parents to drive their children to school. In the past 20 years car journeys to school have doubled and studies have shown that children's free time is becoming increasingly sedentary. These low levels of activity (and poor diets) are leading to rising rates of obesity in British children with the associated risk of coronary heart disease in later life. Children's independent mobility is important for health, social development and forming self-reliance.
ABD Answer 6
Children's play and exercise are real issues — but it is contrived in the extreme to attribute these problems to traffic speeds. Parents today are much more protective than they once were, with children not being allowed the freedom that they once were. Take the issue of stranger danger — todays children are no more likely to be abducted than their parents or grandparents, but parents perceive the danger to be much worse because of media attention. Yet, if you do allow your child to walk whilst others are driven, he or she is alone and much more likely to be the one who is abducted, leaving parents with a tough choice. Traffic fears are similarly enhanced by the lack of individual responsibility on our society, but teaching children to cope with traffic is much more within our control as parents.
Child pedestrian casualties cannot be properly assessed due to the government's reticence when it comes to releasing details of accidents, but it is worth pointing out that if these 2800 serious casualties had all happened due to children being hit at 20mph — the speed T2000 want — then according to their own favourite figures there would still be 140 fatalities (5%). In fact, with all this "speeding" going on, there are around 70 child pedestrian fatalities. Perhaps T2000's efforts would be better spent on finding out what really caused these tragedies instead of proposing policies which will double their number!
T2000 Reason 7
Speeding traffic and rat-running through residential areas reduces quality of life and inhibits a sense of community. Many of our streets now feel like people-free zones. People walk 20 per cent less and cycle 25 per cent less than 20 years ago, while playing in the street, sitting and chatting to neighbours and other social activities have clearly also decreased. Less street activity means neighbours are less likely to know each other, reducing the overall sense of community and all the benefits of social support. Fear of crime increases as street activity falls.
ABD Answer 7
Transport 2000's attempt to attribute all social ills to traffic speeds once again falls foul of the fact that it is they who oppose the very investment in the main arterial routes that would reduce ‘rat running’ and inappropriate traffic levels in residential streets.
T2000 Reason 8
Speeding road traffic disproportionately affects people in deprived communities. The Social Exclusion Unit's interim report Transport and Social Exclusion stated that deprived communities are more affected by pedestrian casualties and pollution caused by road traffic than richer communities. Children from the 10 per cent most deprived wards in England are three times more likely to be hit by a car as a pedestrian.
ABD Answer 8
We don't really understand why the assertion that traffic speed affects one lot of people more than another should constitute a valid argument. Deprived communities are more seriously affected by all problems in our society — that's why they are defined as deprived. The best solution is to make them less deprived, rather than use their deprivation as a reason to deprive others.
T2000 Reason 9
Road crashes caused by speed cost at least £5 billion a year. The DETR estimated the value of preventing all road crashes and casualties at £16.3 billion for 1999; preventing even a third of these crashes would bring an economic cost benefit of £5 billion a year. Hull City Council's programme of 20mph zones has cost approximately £4 million to implement. However, the savings in terms of injury costs have been estimated at £40 million, meaning Hull's programme has paid for itself ten times over.
ABD Answer 9
As speed has been shown not, of itself, to cause more than a handful of accidents, the economic equation quoted here is completely false and the money spent on such schemes, money that could have saved lives by upgrading the A1 to full motorway standard, for example, has been wasted.
T2000 Reason 10
Slower speeds improve the capacity of the road to carry more vehicles. The capacity of the road network is increased when drivers approach roundabouts and junctions slowly and smoothly resulting in a more continuous flow of traffic and greater through-flow. Reduced speeds also result in reduced crashes. Road crashes are a major reason for congestion, preventing traffic flowing. More research is needed to determine the cost: benefit of slower speeds in terms of journey time.
ABD Answer 10
The capacity of roundabouts and junctions, where it matters, is controlled by traffic light phasing. It is true that reducing speeds on motorways in advance of an incident can temporarily reduce the arrival rate and enable the blockage to clear more quickly, but in steady state flow the increase in capacity from slower speeds is self enforcing and irrelevant to free flowing speeds. Crashes that occur at such times cannot by definition be caused by speed because the road is at capacity and this is constraining speeds! We bet more research is needed — some truly Mickey Mouse calculations will be required to demonstrate that going more slowly brings an overall benefit. The ABD has every confidence in the ability of the anti car lobby to come up with such a hatchet job, and looks forward to exposing the blatant abuses of statistics this will require!