The BBC News website has a non-story about speeding statistics at the site of two switched-off speed cameras in Oxfordshire.
Oxfordshire County Council couldn’t afford to keep the speed cameras going after the British government withdrew central funding for speed cameras in England so they turned them off but Thames Valley Safer Road Partnership – one of the many speed camera quangos producing misleading advertising and lobbying national and local government for more business – continued to monitor two sites for 10 weeks and came up with the startling revelation that people were speeding past the speed cameras that had been turned off.
I’ve said this plenty of times before – speeding isn’t dangerous, driving too fast is. You can break the speed limit and still be safe but you can drive below the speed limit and not be safe. This is where speed cameras fail in their supposed objective of making the roads safer – they don’t catch dangerous drivers, they don’t catch drunk drivers, they don’t catch people that brake sharply at speed cameras and then race off at breakneck speeds as soon as they’re past the lines painted on the road.
Thames Valley Safer Road Partnership’s shocking statistics – endorsed by Brake, the government-funded fake charity – show an 88% increase in speeding on Watlington Road, Cowley. That’s an increase from 7 people caught speeding when the speed cameras were on to 62 people not getting caught speeding when the speed cameras are off. 62 people in 10 weeks – that’s less than 1 speeding motorist per day!
But of course the road conditions play a big part in whether it’s safe to exceed the speed limit or not so what’s Warlington Road like? Is it a winding country lane? A narrow street through a busy housing estate? Erm, no. It’s a wide open road, most of which is through open countryside and the rest is past some industrial units. Part of the road is dual carriageway and there are traffic lights dotted at short intervals where the road makes its way past the industrial units.
The other speed camera site is the A44 in Woodstock where the number of people breaking the 30mph speed limit went from 90 to 110. Again, this is over a 10 week period so that’s 2 more speeding motorists per week now the speed cameras are off compared to when they were on. And again, this is a wide open road and it’s actually a bypass for Woodstock and the only hazard nearby is the entrance to Blenheim Palace which has filter lanes to control the traffic and presumably slows the traffic down when the road is busy by virtue of being a tourist attraction and attracting lots of traffic.
One statistic is conspicuously absent from propaganda from Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership – the effect on the accident rate from the speed cameras being switched off. There is no mention whatsoever of the accident rate and that speaks volumes. If there was one extra accident at either of those sites it would have been used as “evidence” that turning off speed cameras is going to kill and maim hundreds of babies and pensioners. But there is no mention at all and that means there has been no increase in accidents, no increase in casualties, no increase in deaths and no justification for turning the speed cameras back on.
The statistics from Swindon have shown that speed cameras on average have no tangible effect on road safety. Inspector Paul Winks from Thames Valley Police said “The consequence is more death and more death is unacceptable”. This is naked propaganda – there is no evidence at all to back up such a ridiculous statement. Thames Valley Police wants more speed cameras because they get a cut of the income generated from the fines and because it means they don’t have to put police on the roads catching dangerous drivers.
The whole legal basis for speed cameras is that they should be a deterrent to inappropriate speeding in danger spots. They are supposed to be brightly coloured and highly visible so that it discourages people from breaking the speed limit, not hidden round corners or behind bushes and road signs to catch people speeding. All speed camera sites in England need to be reviewed by a commission, headed by a judge, to rule on their legality because a great number of them certainly aren’t being used for road safety, they’re being used as roadside tax collectors. An unattended camera on the side of the road is no substitute for a trained police officer.