Do speed cameras cut the number of accidents?
Despite the popular image many traffic cameras actually cost more money to maintain than they bring in through speeding fines. Not surprisingly in the current austerity climate in Britain speed cameras are likely to be cut. The worry is that this will mean that more people will go over the limit so resulting in more accidents, injuries and deaths on the roads.
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Speed Cameras reduce fatalities
The main role of speed cameras is to deter drivers from speeding. There are many speed cameras near to where I live both on main roads and A roads. These are ensure that drivers stick to the 30mph speed limit in built up areas. On the A127 the speed limit is 50mph in parts rather than the usual 70mph.
If a driver does exceed the speed limit, then they will receive a £60 fine and three penalty points on their licence.
Mick Giannasi, the chief constable of Gwent is quoted in the Guardian newspaper as stating: "We now have the lowest casualty levels we have had in modern times. Last year 2,222 people were killed..." This is a huge amount of people but compared to the fatality rate of ten years ago, it is a significant reduction. Ten years ago, there were about 5,000 fatalities on the roads.
The problem with axing speed cameras is: What will replace them? The police cannot be expected to catch every driver that commits a speeding offence. If they were not there anymore, how many people would stick to the speed limit?
In areas where the speed cameras will no longer be used, fatalities will increase
Oxfordshire county council has announced that it will cease funding it's speed cameras. Other councils are considering the same moves.
The announcement has been met with dismay by some people. Dan Campsell, communications manager from the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership said: "There's a serious danger we will see an increase in casualties. We may be counting the cost of this in terms of bodies."
There was a 38% reduction in collisions in the Thames Valley Area - which includes Oxfordshire as a result of the introduction of the speed cameras.
Alternatives to speed cameras have little impact on motorists, for example, flashing speed signs which have been put up a lot in Essex recently. According to Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, motorists abide by them at first but speed up again once they have got used to the signs. [[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10762590]]
Earlier this month Oxfordshire council switched off every speed camera in the county. Even though they had been 'turned off', they were still recording the speed of the cars as they passed for the following five days. On the Woodstock Road (Oxfordshire), 110 drivers were caught travelling at more than 35mph along the 30mph road during this 'test period'.
This, in comparison to when the cameras were known to be functioning, is an 18 per cent increase on those drivers who used to be caught speeding in an average week. This shows drivers are already becoming careless where they know the cameras are not functioning and thus are no longer a deterrent. [[http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/motoring-news/speeding-drivers-revel-in-oxfords-great-switchoff-2050125.html]]
Speed cameras are there to make money
At least £100 million is raised for the treasury each year by speed cameras. Many drivers who have been caught by speed cameras feel angry that they have to pay such a hefty fine. Also, they do not see where this money goes. Is this money reinvested into maintaining roads?
They are expensive to maintain, it is estimated that it costs £5,000 per camera to maintain, a cost met by local authorities.
Many motorists view speed cameras as an inconvience
Many motorists do not see the point in speed cameras. They wonder why there are not other alternatives open to them if they are caught speeding other than a fine, for example, a speed awareness course.
Speed cameras do not get the root cause why people speed. Drivers are often in a hurry and do not think about other road users. After passing their driving test, drivers tend to forget the rules of the road. They often resent receiving penalty points on their once clean driving licence especially if this is their first offence.
A speed awareness course may help drivers consider other road users - espcially cyclists and pedestrains crossing the roads.
What do you think?