Government as usual

A while back I signed a Safe Speed petition on the #10 web site that requested as follows:

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to scrap speed cameras.”

“After 15 years of speed cameras on British roads, neither road deaths nor hospitalisations have fallen as expected. Drivers know as if by instinct that speed cameras are the wrong road safety policy. The extensive research and analysis conducted by the Safe Speed road safety campaign confirms that drivers have been right all along. Far from making our roads safer, speed cameras have replaced genuine life saving policies and distracted everyone from more important safety factors. Instead… – We must have road safety policies based on skills, attitudes and responsibilities – We must have effective roads policing especially to deal with ‘rogue drivers’ – We must avoid needlessly prosecuting skilled and responsible drivers driving safely – We must measure what is important, not make important that which is easily measured – and you can’t measure safe driving in miles per hour.”

This seemed like a good idea, change what appeared to be a one dimensional revenue generating policy to a broader policy to fund initiatives to improve the safety on our roads. To focus not just on the number of speed cameras, but to try and reduce the number of licence and insurance dodgers, the reckless and banned drivers, and the unsafe vehicles on our roads. Targeting the root cause and not just one of the symptoms.Unfortunately, as you’d expect from any government the response is carefully crafted spin telling us “Tough luck, we’re going to ignore your suggestions completely”. It reads as follows:

Thank you for taking the time to register your views about safety cameras on the Number 10 website.

Speeding kills. It is a contributory factor in 26% of all fatal accidents in Great Britain.

The facts are stark. If a child pedestrian is hit at 30mph they stand an 80% chance of surviving. But if they are hit at 40mph they stand an 80% chance of dying. That is why the Government is committed to achieving appropriate vehicle speeds on the roads as part of its integrated road safety strategy.

We are succeeding in changing attitudes, and in making drivers realise that one of their responsibilities is to comply with speed limits. The proportion of car drivers who comply with the 30mph limit has greatly increased over the last few years.

Safety cameras provide a valuable and cost-effective method of preventing, detecting and enforcing speed and traffic light offences. Their use is based on solid evidence. All reliable research from around the world clearly demonstrates that cameras reduce speeds and save lives.

New research, published in December 2005, shows that safety cameras had saved around 1,745 people from being killed or seriously injured, and had prevented around 4,230 personal injury collisions on Britain’s roads each year.

And while they are saving lives, safety cameras will remain a key part of our road safety strategy.

So don’t expect to see more police cars, or better driver education, don’t look for us introducing ways to stop that banned car thief from jumping behind the wheel yet again, just look for more cameras and the added safety to our revenue stream, oh and don’t look to us to spend the money on improvements to transport strategies.

Funny how the email arrived on the same day as the BBC News website ran a story titled “More children killed on UK roads” which included the following quote:

Paul Smith, founder of the anti-speed camera group Safe Speed, said: “The fall of just under 1% in road deaths is further damning evidence of policy failure. Most of our European neighbours are achieving falls of 4% or more and we’re entitled to at least that.” “Our road safety policies aren’t working. “There’s far too much focus on vehicle speeds and no focus at all on driver quality.”

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