Thursday, April 19, 2007

Speed cameras, are they working?

The short answer is it is hard to tell. If you look at the detailed figures and dig around a bit it seems at best marginal, though the proponents of speed cameras have a plethora of statistics they use to back up the claim they are effective.

There is one fascinating key statistic. In the decade before speed cameras were introduced road deaths fell by over a quarter, whilst in the decade since they have only fallen by 8%, despite all the new safety features on cars.

Even the injury figures seem in doubt as doctors have looked back at their records, and the drop claimed by police figures just are not borne out by the doctors records.

Then of course there is the way the figures are presented. They tend to lump deaths in with "serious injuries". The issue is of course what is a serious issue. It turns out this could go from a broken arm to paralysis. The former I would regard as unlikely to be serious whilst the latter always is. Lumping events like this together looks like manipulation.

What is more, cars are a lot more friendly to passengers than they were in the past, so you would expect the level of injuries and deaths to drop because of that alone.

There is of course another issue. The increase in speed cameras has been mirrored by a reduction if traffic police. The problem with this is that the cameras can't spot all the other sorts of behavior that leads to road deaths that traffic police can, like for example erratic or drunk driving. In fact they can even spot people driving so slowly they are obstructing the highway or obviously not paying attention to the road at all. None of these can be spotted by speed cameras.

See this article on the BBC.

5 comments:

Lucyp said...

I do not know about speed cameras and their effectivness but around my end of town there has been an array of speed humps cropping up.
Now that is effective, the cars slow to a crawl.

Iggy said...

You're hoping that if you ignore the Gonzales disaster, it will go away, aren't you?

Benedict White said...

LucyP, Speed humps slow people down,yes but they also slow down ambulances. They don't breathalyse people.

Iggy, sorry what are you talking about? Who is Gonzales and what was his disaster?

Lucyp said...

Excellant point about Ambulances benedict, i was overlooking the emergency service vehicles.

Benedict White said...

LucyP, The law of unintended consequences I am afraid!