Friday 16th March 2007


Because it conflicts with speed camera policies

The Department of Transport has cancelled research that could have saved lives on the road -- but which might also have conflicted with its rigid speed camera policy.

In May 2005, the government decided that the side effects of blanket speed camera usage warranted investigation, following pressure from road safety safety campaign Safe Speed and others. In December of that year, the transport department discovered that neglect of a statistical bias had exaggerated the main benefit of speed cameras by 400 per cent. The claimed '100 lives per year saved at speed camera sites' was downgraded to 25 lives saved.

In June 2006, it discovered that a beneficial trend in road crash serious injuries was just a feature of the way these crashes are reported. Hospitalisation statistics didn't, and don't, show the same trend. Road deaths don't show the same trend.

In September 2006, the proportion of injury crashes involving any speeding vehicle nationally was found to be only five per cent -- not one-third as previously claimed.

And now Safe Speed has learned via a Freedom of Information request that the speed camera side effects research, announced in May 2005, had been axed.

According to the campaign: "it is inconceivable that the side effects don't cost more than 25 lives per year, meaning that speed cameras are making road safety worse. But the Department for Transport doesn't want to hear this, which is the only possible reason for axing the most important research."

Campaign founder Paul Smith said: "Speed camera policy has failed catastrophically. Department for Transport knows that it has failed but won't admit its deadly mistake and pull the plug. Officials seem to be hoping that speed cameras will fade away over the next five years, yet they know that the policy isn't working and is costing lives.

"If that's not a reason for road users to get angry, I don't know what is."

More details and suggestions for further action on Safe Speed's Web site.