Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Swindon Says Safety Not Stealth Tax

It's always nice to see conventional wisdoms challenged. So I am sure I was among many who cheered yesterday when we heard that Swindon Council are considering withdrawing their £400,000 funding for the speed cameras in their area. Road safety 'experts' have predictably jerked their knees and predicted the mass slaughter of most of Swindon's pedestrians should the unthinkable happen. Local Labour MP Anne Snelgrove (no, I have never heard of her either) is handing out leaflets headlined "Save Our Speed Cameras". You couldn't make it up. I wish her luck with that particular campaign. She'll need it.

I have nothing against using speed cameras in appropriate locations, but the truth is that they have become a Treasury cash cow. Swindon Council were no doubt happy to keep them when they were allowed to spend the proceeds of fines themselves. Now that it all goes to HM Treasury they are not, and think that they could spent the £400k on other road safety measures like flashing speed warning signs.

I have a lot of sympathy with that, as I know they have far more effect on my driving behaviour than speed cameras do. If it can be proved that their effects are just as great as speed cameras, shouldn't local councils have the freedom to make the decision to replace the cameras? That, I think, is all Swindon Council is saying.

The anti-motorists will now descend on me like a ton of bricks and allege that if you break the speed limit - i.e break the law - you deserve to be fined. That may in theory be so, but if that were really the case the government would put speed restrictors in every car. Anyone who drives knows it just doesn't work like that. Drivers actually react more positively to carrots rather than sticks. And we are fed up with being treated like a cash cow. .

I remember a few years ago Barnet Council started removing traffic humps in certain areas, as they were felt to be unnecessary. The end of the world was predicted by those with a vested interest in predicting such things. I'm sure we would have heard by now if the good citizens of Barnet had been culled as a result of the disappearance of a few sleeping policemen.

Three cheers for Swindon councillors for daring to go against the orthodoxy

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's hope it is the beginning of a mass revolt.

Anonymous said...

About 3,500 people are killed on the roads in the UK each year. This compares to 7,500 who die from hospital acquired infections and over 20,000 who die in NHS hospitals from preventable deep vein thrombosis. The money spent on traffic calming would save far more lives if it was spent on the low cost drugs to prevent DVT deaths in NHS hospitals. Each one of those speed bumps that you drive over represents the life of someone who died in an NHS hospital because money was spent on the sleeping policeman rather than on life saving drugs. Blood-thinning drugs that cost just £1 a day.

In the UK only 37 per cent of medical patients are given preventive measures compared with 70 per cent in Germany.

For surgical patients the figures are Germany 92 per cent, compared with 74 per cent in the UK.

AnyoneButBrown said...

Frankly the rate of deaths in car accidents is more related to additional safety measures in cars and congestion reducing average speed; than the presence of speed cameras.
To me speed cameras are a symbol of an overweening big government that punishes people for "offences" they identify and uses punishment as a revenue stream. A big government that uses technology to automatically fine people. I am a person not a cash cow!
Supporters of speed cameras should explain the TRL report (covered up by the government) that clearly states the presence of speed cameras has no effect on injury rates.
Furthermore these supporters should also explain why the rate of drink driving is increasing. Could it be because of the wholesale removal of police from our roads, partially because speed cameras are more cost effective

Newmania said...

This is on the front page of the Express today but as the Speedos get funding form the County Coucil as well they will continue .

In fact the yellow nasties have had a negligible effect on accidents but they are not a cash cow .The system is run in such a profligate way there is little left and it is in total about the suize of Simon Cowell`s income tax.


When we read that £14 billion has been lost over Brown`s tax credits white elephant (4p on income tax) .There are bigger waste beatss to slay.

Stll I detest them and Mrs N is running out of points

Alfred T Mahan said...

Bravo, Swindon BC! At last some common sense being shown as a change from the usual 'progressive' nonsense of ever more restrictions and punishment. Keep it up!

Roger Thornhill said...

They are going against it because they had their cash flow taken away, it seems.

Now they don't feel inclined to "invest" £400k in maintaining a revenue stream, so want to divert it to a group over whom they have spending powers...

They have done the right thing because the incentive to do the wrong thing has been removed. Maybe a lesson to be learnt across the ENTIRE welfare state.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 9.11am



same argument could be brought into the drug debate. Much money could be saved if banned drugs were prescribed! No criminality, no pushers etc. etc.great savings on police time/ court time/ prison places etc.

same argument for having speed restriction inbuilt in all vehicles so they could not go over the legal limit and, through technology, all vehicles would drive at the appropriate speed for the area. 10. 20. 30 or a maximum 60 mph!!

Same argument for banning nuclear and conventional weapons. If all countries agreed not to have any, there would be no more wars.

Simple really!!!!

Peter from Putney said...

Solid sound sense

FonyBlair said...

Another sensible measure by a sensible Tory council.

Can someone set up a website showing Conservative good ideas vs Labour bad ideas.

Hard to know which section would have most entries....although it's difficult to know how to keep up with the ridiculous ideas coming from the the tragic comedy that is The Labour Government at the moment!!

Longbridge lad said...

Another factor is the cost. A speed camera costs roughly £80k to install. You need a large number of fines to pay that off. The illuminating warning signs are much cheaper so you could have more of them. We had one on our road for some time and you could see the brake lights coming on nearly every car driving past our house.

Cath said...

As you say Iain, speed cameras have their place as one part of an overall strategy, what I object to most is that they have been used as a cash cow alternative to other measures. A speed camera can spot someone doing 35 on a clear road but not the empty headed and ignorant driving that we all see on our roads every day and which is far more likely to kill someone. Speed is not irrelevant, we would all rather be hit at 20mph than 40mph and driving sensibly gives you time to react to other people's moronic actions but the point is it is only one part of a very large picture.

Personally I would ensure that no person under the age of 21 could carry more than 1 passenger at a time. Not very green but it would certainly save lives.

Anonymous said...

Anne Snelgrove is Ruth Kelly's PPS!

Egg on her face me thinks!!

trevorsden said...

No you are right - good luck to Swindon I hope they do not bottle out.

And of course the level of fines proves that safety cameras do not work and the fact that there are not piles of dead pedestrians and crashed cars heaped up around 'safety' cameras proves that they are (mostly)not needed.

A 'safety' camera would only work if they were well signposted and ALWAYS had film in them and EVERYONE went past at the speed limit generating NO fines.

Of course they still might cause accidents as drivers would be looking at their speedos rather than the road.

cht said...

Spot on. I did indeed cheer, albeit inwardly, for the tube is a strange enough place without my extraneous noise. But yes, Swindon are absolutely right. I can see no reason for this money to go via the Treasury, and I would concur as a driver that the flashing signs are far more effective. Motorists don't need the threat of being 'caught' in order to make them slow down in areas that actually require them to do so - outside schools and in built up areas etc. If they haven't slowed down already, a flashing reminder will do. But putting cameras in ridiculously safe places, on long roman roads, the M4, or indeed hiding them behind road signs remains outrageous behaviour. As for mobile cameras, that's like one-sided Laser Quest with a fine at the end of it.

And stats show cameras haven't reduced accidents, so Ruth Kelly's assertion about them playing politics with lives is, unsurprisingly, rubbish.

Finally a reason to visit Swindon.

Pogo said...

"flashing speed warning signs... ...If it can be proved that their effects are just as great as speed cameras..."

Actually, according to TRL's own published research, they are approximately 4 times more effective than speed cameras in reducing traffic speed.

... But not as profitable.

Not a sheep said...

Barnet Council's decision to remove speed humps from their roads has made driving through the borough so much more pleasurable and less likely to cause damage to tyres, suspension and various body parts.

Chris Paul said...

Goodness me, you lot have a very low level of logic and of proof don't you?

The conversation between Steven Ladyman MP and Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear was very interesting indeed.

Ladyman had the figures showing a downward trend in fatalities and serious injuries on the roads around use of speed cameras and other measures. Jezzer had only knee jerks and anecdotes. He was beaten hands down.

Ladyman was very quick in the reasonably-priced car also.

Is there anyone here who will tell us - using bona fide research - how many deaths there would be *without* speed cameras?

Scary Biscuits said...

Local Labour MP Anne Snelgrove is going to need a lot of luck merely to hang on to her seat, especially with her evident feel for popular opinion.

People are right to indentify the anti-speed campaigners as really just anti-car. The anti-speed argument is that speed is a factor in all accidents; reduce speed and you will therefore reduce accidents. The flaw in this logic is that speed is a factor in all journeys not just unsuccessful ones; reduce speed and you will reduce people travelling. The reductio ad absurdum of thier argument is that if you don't travel at all you will have no travel accidents. That is, wearing sandals, not travelling at all or, if you must, using public transport is the real agenda of these people.

Those of us with jobs in the real world, meanwhile, will continue to use cars.

tapestry said...

A motorist had just gone through a speed camera-protected 30 mph zone,
when he was stopped by a policeman.

Why are you stopping me?, asked the motorist. 'I was well under the limit'.

'Not for speeding, Sir. That was tax evasion.'

(borrowed from a commenter on Daily Mail threda)

liverpool lad said...

the reality is speed cameras are an effective way of slowing people down. with 3000 people dying on the roads every year, we can ill afford to be flippant about road safety. unfotunately, hitting people in their wallets is the only way to get people to slow down. if you had lost a relative in a car crash im sure you would rethink your juvenile opposition to speed cameras. if you dont speed, you wont get fined.

Anonymous said...

I saw a delightful comment in The Times, which said that Brown wants the "tax" from speeding through the cameras, or he will inflict "tax evasion" charges on anybody who does NOT speed through the cameras. Says it all about Brown's Britain!!

Unsworth said...

And entirely predictably, Anne Snelgrove has accused council leaders of playing "politics with lives" and is calling on the council to drop the plans.

An amazingly stupid woman. 'Playing politics'? Really? How does she feel about Afghanistan, Iraq, MRSA, NHS etc etc etc?

I'll bet Ruth is really chuffed with this 'support'.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind people complaining about various problems with speed cameras (hiding them behind trees, not warning people what the speed limit is, measuring success by the number of people caught even though this means people are still speeding etc) and I'll happily say we should look at other ways of slowing people down - I especially like the system in Spain where a traffic light changes to red if you're going too fast when you approach a village on a country lane for example.

However, it drives me nuts when people say they're a stealth tax on law-abiding motorists.

The facts are straightforward:

1) If you're breaking the speed limit, you're breaking the law. You may not agree with said law, but that's the way it is. So you're not a law-abiding motorist if you get snapped by a gatso.

2) Cameras are not a form of taxation, stealthy or otherwise, because you only have to pay IF YOU BREAK THE LAW. With every other tax in the world you're breaking the law if you DON'T pay it.

3) I've been driving (a lot) for 15 years and have never been caught by a speed camera. So there's no sense of inevtiability about it unless you habitually hurtle around far faster than you should.

Newmania said...

BTW Newmania is open for business again so anyone gagging for a blog much like all the others ,...gag no more.

Auntie Flo' said...

1% of the world's population

20% of the world's surveillance

UK worst child accidents in EU

Gatsos as ineffective as Broon

Conclusion: tell Broon to take his money grabbing gatsos with him when he goes - soon.

Anonymous said...

err its because the treasury is now going to keep the money from fines rather than it going to local police forces. Thats why every local govt will get rid of them.

They have no effect on anything other than the pockets of motorists. This bankrupt govt is about to go up the swanee

Anonymous said...

Flashing speed signs (which incidentally cost around the same as a speed camera) have more effect on your driving speed than a speed camera? Really?

littlelordfauntleroy said...

I am with anonymous (11:37): it's not a tax, it's a fine for breaking the law.

That said, I do think there needs to be more consideration given to where they are sited. And to whether speed limits in some locations are artificially low (the Blackwall Tunnel approach road, on the north side, is a 3 lane highway, with crash barriers and no housing next to it, but the limit has been reduced to 40 mph - why??). Putting Gatsos near schools and strictly enforcing a 20 mph limit would be a good move.

And I'd be more impressed with Swindon Council if they did something about excessive parking charges in areas where the small local shops are.

Iain Dale said...

That's rubbish. The flashing ones cost around £5,000. Speed cameras are far more expensive.

Travis Bickle said...

The problem I have with speed cameras is the complete lack of discretion, e.g. coned roadworks where 50mph is reasonable when men are working but on a deserted 3-lane road at 3am is just ridiculous.

Then anyone who doesn't accept these are mainly about revenue generation just take note where the next mobile speed trap is set up. Chances are it won't be outside a school or in built up area, but on a long straight 40mph stretch where they can set up out of sight.

And I remain to be convinced that road deaths would not be better reduced by putting more traffic cops (instead of cameras) on streets to catch the nutters who continue to ton it on motorways, (many with their mobiles to their ears) instead of persecuting drivers who may be a mere fraction over a limit - so what is more dangerous? someone driving slightly over the limit but fully attentive to the road and surroundings OR someone driving under the limit but watching their speedometer more than the road......

Well done Swindon BC, but this rare dose of sanity will not reverse the damage of over 10 years.

cht said...

Anonymous @ 11:37 - If there was a law against wearing red socks would you throw yours away? 30mph on a straight road in a non-residential area is absurd, and speed limits are applied arbitrarily by people who don't even go to the sites they're applying the limits to. So yes, speeding is breaking the law, but there is such a thing as bad law.
This, you broke the law you pay the fine attitude is stupid and unpleasant.

And without any research whatsoever because I haven't the time, as I'm supposed to be working, I will assert with some confidence that I am, given more time, or assistance, able to prove that speed cameras taken as a whole, do not by themselves reduce accidents. I would sooner trust my own slightly fragile assertions clobbered together from things I remember hearing than government statistics. Back to work.

cosmic said...

Speed cameras may have been put in place by a benevolent, caring government to improve road safety, but no one believes that. The general view is that they are a tax gathering scheme justified by safety, and safety can be used to justify almost anything.

These contraptions are just another thing altering the relationship between the citizen and the state. It's us and them and they prey on us in every way they can think up. It isn't healthy.

jane said...

but the fact remains that speeding fines are voluntary donations. If you don't want to pay don't speed.

Serf said...

I recently drove in the UK for the first time in a long time. It was a nightmare.

I drive carefully, take care over road conditions and try not to speed. On some roads it was almost impossible to keep to the speed limit. I ended up watching my speedometer instead of the road.

Noone can ever convince me that speed cameras (in general) are anything other than bansturbation.

alistair said...

I see from Electoral calculus that on the latest polls Ms Snelgrove would be out anyway. Perhaps she is just trying to get publicity any publicity.

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

'Save our speed cameras!

Nice slogan. Here are some more suggestions for Labour MPs with small majorities:

'Increase stealth taxes!'

'Say yes to hospital infections!'

'Your future is safe with Harriet Harman!'

Johnny Norfolk said...

You know if you are caught sealing from a shop you are given a warning. You do not get a warning for a first offence from a speed camera but a fine. Where is the logic in that.

DiscoveredJoys said...

I have no objection to a few speed cameras in carefully selected blackspots as part of an overall safety campaign.

However I have always felt that the argument "You shouldn't be breaking the law" , while trivially true, ignores the evenhandedness of good policing. It is easy, to catch speeding motorists, with penalties being issued almost without any human touch.

In the meantime other lawbreaking continues unchecked. Cycling on the footpath? Drunkeness in public? Spitting in the street? Burgulary? Dumping rubbish? Carrying a knife? Illegal encampments? Substitute your own particuarly disliked law breaking activity. None of them appear to be tackled - because it would actually require people to enforce the law (and there's no money in it)!

Lola said...

From memory the road death rate per 100,000 km has not changed significantly since the introduction of cameras.

Carrot is better than stick and good highway engineering is better than anything else in successfully lowering accident rates.

Motorways are inherently safer than urban roads. Average traffic speed in London is about 12 mph, yet more accidents happen in towns than on motorways. But m/way pile ups produce much better news, as when they happen they are spectacular.

IMHO cameras are the darlings of the police and lobbyists because (a) they are the lazy way to enforce speed limits (b) they produce shed loads of cash (c) they produce wonderful statistics that most people speed (Erm, yes. All people speed occasionally. It's impossible not to) that re-inforce the mentalists (d) they can be enforced by a process run by cheap monkeys. (d) They suit absolutists, of which many of the new breed of admin. copper are.

Durham Constabulary (I think) did some research and found out that most accidents were caused by old duffers turning right, so resisted cameras.

The camera is now widely discredited as a safety tool by its profligate use. If it was used at sites where evidence showed speed was a problem and then once the message has gone home moved on it might be more respected. And by association the attitude of the public to the police would be improved.

Taking traffic police off the road and replacing them with cameras (cost centre to profit centre) is a bad thing as it removes the human and trained eyes that pick up mucjh more than speeding. wasn't the Yorshire Ripper stopped bya traffic officer. Why not a terrorist? And more traffic cops would be better for sorting drink/drugged driving - which is something we should worry about.

And lastly there is the whole freedom/responsibilty issue. It's just more police state and making the citizen infantile. Stop taking away resposibility and people will behave more responsibly. It's the old positive/negative freedom argument.

In fact it is the last point that is probably the most telling. We are being gradually moved to a European system of 'justice' where where what you are permitted to do, you can do. I deeply resent anyone who says that they have come to make me free. I am already bloody well free. What you are doing is taking freedom away from me, and you certainly can't make me free. This camera conditioning is excellent softening up on the part of the EUmentalists who want to foist on us more euro-bollocks.

End of rant

Mirtha Tidville said...

`` Hug A Speed Camera`` campaign is what is required here, you can just imagine it cant you Ms Snelgove and The Harperson(sisterly support and all that) hugging each other round the camera pole and featuring on the front page of Private Eye!!!!!

Cant Wait

Lola said...

Look, I have some experience of highway engineering and fast driving. And I have not yet been caught speeding.

But everyone speeds at some time. I live on a narrow country lane where it's not safe to do more than 10 to 20 mph. Twice my lady wife has been in a head on with idiot non locals doing about 30 mph round blind corners as was one of my daughters. In neither case was anyone remotely likely to be killed as the absolute speed was so low. But in all cases our cars were written off. So it's no good using speed cameras they just do not work as a method of controlling speed. Witness the statistically insignificant reduction in fatalities since their introduction. What is needed is driver training, or rather the drilling into people the nature of responsibility. (And nanny statism is an anathema to that).

In regards to roadworks I actually do endorse speed control by automatatic means. I have worked on roadworks and I have nearly been run down by a speeding flatbed truck. Again from memory I think deaths among roadworks workers are highish. Tell motorists this and put cameras in these locations and the vast majority of motorists will respect the common sense of it. And those that do not never will, speed cameras or no.

Speed limits are set as absolutes. But not even the police treat them as such, giving about a 10% common sense margin. Those absolutists who bang on about the accuracy of not speeding to the exact MPH are just anal. Life does not work like that.

And as far as reducing speeds by schools is concerned I cannot recall the last time there was such an accident. And anyway it's the mad parking by the school run drivers that is the real road safety problem. And the vagrant yoofs (I had them strolling out into the road this a.m. as i was taking my daughter to school in her car - she was driving as a a learner. And before you slag me off it's about 8 miles to school for her. And there are no buses).

Nope. I am unapolgetic. Cameras are used because they can be and are profitable.

Colin said...

In the village of Penyffordd nr Chester there are approx 2000 cars a day that speed through the village that is part of a major route to school.
I hate the speeders with a passion. I hate the noise. North Wales Police and Arrive Alive are useless at slowing down rat run traffic.
Hidden speed cameras are what we want to stop all you arses in Audi's and BMW's that think nothing of village environments or other motorists..
Penyffordd District

Scary Biscuits said...

Chris Paul, I think you should be looking in the mirror before you accuse anybody else of having low standards of logic and proof.

The case of Darling v Clarkson was just two innumerates arguing over statistics in a down the pub sort of way. Not very interesting at all.

The fact is that HM Government's statistics do not support the hypothesis that "speed cameras have reduced accidents". Statistically speaking, there is no published evidence that this is true.

That does not mean it isn't true, just the Government has yet to establish it as fact. Interestingly Darling claimed his department did have such evidence but were still 'working' on it. If ever there was a case for open source government this is it. He should publish the raw data; there are plenty of us out here who'd be happy to peer review it for them for free. While they don't it not only costs us more money but the suspicion remains that they are massaging the figures until they get the answers they want.

The fact that the Dept for Transport and many police forces are actively opposing a FOI request on traffic accidents will be, for some, all we need to know about the truth behind the failure of speed cameras. Even for the rest of us, we all await "bone fide" research whilst the government and the police inexplicably hide the evidence.

Liverpool Lad, if we reduced speed limits everywhere to 5 mph there would still be road victims and they'd still have families demanding lower limits. It's sad but true. Am I juvenile or perhaps just logical?

Anonymous said...

Speed cameras don't catch people speeding, they catch bad drivers.

If you can't read the warning sign a mile before the camera (SPEED CAMERAS OPERATE IN THIS AREA), then if you can't spot the giant yellow box by the road, and then if the painted lines on the road don't alert you, then you should ask if you're safe to drive and fully deserve to fined for your stupidity!

Anonymous said...

Most drivers "speed" because they recognise that many speed limits are set arbitrarily, or for "worst case" conditions (eg busy periods).

Historically, the police have recognised that if you are making "safe progress", even if somewhat over the posted limit, then you are acting within the *spirit* of the law.

Scameras ruthlessly apply the letter of the law, rather than upholding the spirit.

If numpties like Snelgrove and BRAKE want the limits to be rigorously enforced, then they should be lobbying initially to ensure that those limits are fair, reasonable and *change* according to the safety of the prevailing road conditions.

In the meantime, good on Swindon BC for recognising common sense.

The Odyssey said...

This whole speed camera debate just sums the current “modern technology” illiteracy throughout government and the population as a whole.
Five years ago I went to Norway on a family holiday, we stayed with a resident family and as we drove round the country toll barriers would open automatically, this was achieved by a small transponder on the car windscreen. Car owners purchased credits and the system automatically deducted accordingly.
Every car in the UK has a number plate which links it on a central database, which links up tax, insurance ownership and MOT. We have GPS satellite systems that record location information of all mobile phone users.
When is somebody in power going to understand “joined up government” are not just words? We have the technology to put a transponder in every vehicle in the UK linked to a satellite main frame. Overnight speed cameras are not required, traffic wardens are not required, car criminals are easily identified, and traffic congestion could easily be managed. The inevitable speed reductions to save fuel would also be easily managed.
There isn’t a single civil liberties argument that holds water against this, long term savings are phenomenal. The Victorians managed to put a transport network across the entire UK in a relatively short period of time, this application of joined up government could be achieved within two or three years if somebody in the corridors of power had the foresight and vision to achieve it.

Lola said...

OK Colin 4.36 do it yourself. get a speed gun and measure the traffic. Take the data to your local police or council and show them the evidence. A bit of responsibility and DIY. Won't take you long.

My bet is that you will very little evidence of what you allege. BTW I agree with you about the arrogance of Audi and BM drivers. (doesn't one I Dale drive and audi?).

Casual Observer said...

It just shows how hard up the Treasury must be if it stoops to this level to put some money in Brown's empty coffers.

Travis Bickle said...

anon 6:11

So tell me which speed camera is going to catch the idiot driving along at 29mph in a 30mph zone texting on his mobile (which I have seen several times recently) - or does such action not relate to bad driving in your book?

Nope get the poor sap driving along perfectly safely , both hands on the wheel, attentive to road and surroundings but going at 33mph. You holier than thous make me crease up, I do hope that next time it's you caught a shade over the limit and trying to argue the toss.

Aardvark said...

Travis Bickle said...
"Nope get the poor sap driving along perfectly safely , both hands on the wheel, attentive to road and surroundings but going at 33mph."

People travelling at 33mph in a 30mph zone hardly ever get fined.

The police make an allowance for speedometer error and then add a bit.

I don't know what their rule is these days but it used to be Speed Limit +10% +2mph.

Martin said...

Yet again the BBC turn it into an "evil Tory" idea.

The BBC state that speed cameras cut road deaths, failing to mention that the real truth (which always hurts the BBC) that road deaths are only reduced by the following

1. Improvements in car design and safety (such as airbags and pedestrian friendly front ends)

2. Road improvements, such as better lighting, better signage and better road layouts

3. Better road surfaces (that help in wet conditions)

4. More designated pedestrian and cycle routes.

The idea that is peddled by the BBC and Nu Labour is that sticking up speed cameras reduces road deaths. It does not.

Lola said...

The Odyssey 7.28 - We're not all tecnically illiterate y'know. And yes all you say is apossible. But there are civil liberties issues with this. It may be OK for Scandinavians to accept such monitoring but I for one would not like it at all. The State would know at every minute just where I was and probably could deduce waht I was doing. This is entirely unnaceptable to me. The state is my servant. I am not its to control and monitor. I am happy to accept some inconvenience with traffic jams and needing to pay cash for tolls if it means that I can be anonymous. I should be able, as a law abiding citizen to go weeks and miles without coming accross the organs of the State. All I want it to do is to keep the roads in reasonable condition and weher required build a motorway or two. Other than that it can bugger off.

At the moment we are in the age of the bureaucracy. It is the nature of these to try and control the rest of us with various excuses of efficiency or environmentalism but in reality its to know as much about us as possible and to limit our freedoms to ake its job easier.

At the same time none of these state bureaucrats pays any tax.

So, no. I don't want a sort of super DartTag and I don't want speed cameras or surveillance cameras. I will take the chance of crime (which if there is a policman nearby will in any event be remote) and I will take some inconvenience if it means that I have my freedom

Travis Bickle said...

I wouldn't bank on speed cameras giving you 10% + 2mph... However the point I am making is that it is very possible to drive badly (mobile phone, texting, even reading maps on steering wheel etc etc) under the speed limit and our over reliance on speed cameras is allowing really dangerous driving to go completely unpunished.

Aardvark said...

Martin said...
"The BBC state that speed cameras cut road deaths, failing to mention that the real truth (which always hurts the BBC) that road deaths are only reduced by the following ..."

The measures you list are important but you fail to mention the DRIVER.

Education and Enforcement are powerful accident reduction measures.

The Odyssey said...

To respond to lola:
Generalisations are dangerous, and there always exceptions. The majority are unaware of the positive potential of the technology we have at our disposal.

As I said there isn't a civil liberties argument that holds water against what I am saying and your reply is no exception.

If you use a car on the public highway, then you are being monitored anyway. Try driving a stolen car( number plates not changed) anywhere near the congestion cameras in London and the police will be on to you in seconds. That technology will be rolled out slowly and painfully across the country and rightly so.

The speed limits need to be enforced and the current situation is farcical. As the oil situation becomes ever more critical speeds need to be reduced further as they were in the seventies.

By having a transponder system positives such as crash avoidance, congestion management and saved resources in policing of speed limits and parking violations could be achieved in cost effective way.

I am deeply worried about civil liberties and the intrusion of personal data by government, but the public highway is just that, public, and by virtue of number plates you are already tracked, all I am suggesting is efficiency with positives as well as the negatives.

Pogo said...

Chris Paul: "Ladyman had the figures showing a downward trend in fatalities and serious injuries on the roads around use of speed cameras and other measures."

There is, in the vast majority of cases, a reduction in accidents at speed camera sites. This however, is nothing to do with the effficacy of speed cameras, it's due to a statistical quirk - I suggest that you look up the "Regression To The Mean Benefit Illusion" - which basically says that if, like in the case of speed camera siting, you do it in response to an abnormal set of circumstances (in the case of speed cameras this is a sudden jump in fatal accidents within a specified radius) if left to itself, the situation will self-compensate and the next period of observation will show that things have returned to normal. This is why most cameras show a reduction in accidents of something in the region of 60% yet there is negligible impact upon national statistics.

To quote a statistician friend - "you'd get the same reduction in accidents by putting a garden gnome at the side of the road instead of a speed camera".

Lola said...

Pogo - exactly. Odyssey - I have argued against ALL cameras, not just speed cameras, because of the very example you cite. We are now tracked everywhere and this is a big civil liberties problem.

And I disagree about the fuel issue. Price has already forced a reduction in use and an increase in efficiency. In essence we are confused between traffic and cars. Lots of traffic is a sign of economic success. But the vehicles that make up this traffic may not be ICE powered in the future. And once we can build a zero emmission car by your logic we could do 100 mph everywhere.

Speeding is wrong. Or rather going to fast in the wrong place and wrong time is wrong. It is daft to do anything near 70 on parts of the M25 in the rush hours but at 3 o'clock in the morning on a clear and calm night you could do 90 with less risk.

So 'speeding' is relative. But it's become an absolutist measure and used to beat every car user and to raise revenue for a bankrupt goverment.

Out of interest I was reading about some Dutch experiments with 'shared space' traffic management where all vehicles and pedestrians share road space without much in the way of signage or traffic management measures to guide them. Unsurpisingly vehicle speeds reduced and accidents reduced and traffic flowed better. I have observed this phenomenon when traffic lights have failed and have often thought that we should just switch loads of them off and see what happened.

The point is that it is easy for bureaucrats and profitable for governments to limit our freedoms and make us pay for it. It is harder and re-inforces freedom if we seek to provide better engineered solutions to these problems. Ultimately not reducing freedom and not stopping people from innovating produces better results at a lower cost in both cash and resources.

jcb said...

Pogo said...
' There is, in the vast majority of cases, a reduction in accidents at speed camera sites. This however, is nothing to do with the effficacy of speed cameras, it's due to a statistical quirk - I suggest that you look up the "Regression To The Mean Benefit Illusion" '
______

Pogo, all professionals involved in road safety measures are fully aware of the Regression-to-Mean effect and take it into account wherever possible.

The Regression-to-Mean is compensated for by defining a group of Control Sites. These are sites which have a similar accident record to the sites where remedial action is taken but which are left as they are for the study period (which is usually 3 years 'before' and 'after').

The 'expected' accident rate at the remedial sites is the 'before' rate minus the 'after' rate at the control sites.

The reported change in accident rate is the Net Change. i.e. 'observed' minus 'expected'

The people who misuse the accident information are the media and the local politicians who, when it suits them, report only the raw 'observed' change.

People who oppose particular safety measures such as speed cameras, lower speed limits or speed humps also misuse the statistics.

Travis Bickle said...

"People who oppose particular safety measures such as speed cameras, lower speed limits or speed humps also misuse the statistics."


Everybody misuses statistics.

No finer example of this than PMQs

Anonymous said...

liverpool lad said...

"with 3000 people dying on the roads every year"

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


"if you had lost a relative in a car crash blah blah"

Especially if you're a self-obsessed prat who thinks the world revolves around you and your troubles.

PaulD said...

Chris Paul, JCB and others, please note the council wants to spend the money on road engineering - the root cause of accidents - and speed monitoring signs, which are highly effective if those in our village are anything to go by. This is exactly the direction in which we should be heading.

Speed cameras are pure NuLab: They put a stone in your shoe, forbid its removal, then fine you for saying 'ouch'.

Lola said...

PaulD - yep. Better highway engineering is a surer way to stop accidents than speed cameras. But engineering is difficult and expensive and a cost centre. If politcos and bureaucrats can create numbers to support speed cameras and similar surveillance which at the same time produce a huge revenue then they will. You could test this by making the cameras revenue neutral, so the fines may end up being effectively nil for those cameras that catch thousands of people. You'd still get the points but they wouldn't get the money. Then see if the same arguments are justified. I doubt they would be.

So there's your challenge. Abandon the fines and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Scary Biscuits said...
"The case of Darling v Clarkson was just two innumerates arguing over statistics in a down the pub sort of way."

It was Dr Stephen Ladyman (not Alistair Darling) v Clarkson.

He is not innumerate; he is a fully qualified and experienced RESEARCH SCIENTIST.

In discussing the statistics on Top Gear he had to speak in very simple terms so that even Clarkson could understand.

Pogo said...

"jcb" said... "Pogo, all professionals involved in road safety measures are fully aware of the Regression-to-Mean effect and take it into account wherever possible."

Really? Odd then that it was first "officially" mentioned in the "Four Year Evaluation Report" (published in November 2006) - and even then, the effects of RTTM were removed from the figures quoted in the "Executive Summary" (ie the only bit that's read by lazy journalists and politicians) and the effects of RTTM were only detailed in an obscure Appendix to the report ("H" on page 141).

The Regression-to-Mean is compensated for by defining a group of Control Sites. These are sites which have a similar accident record to the sites where remedial action is taken

Ahh.. You mean like this one Reported in "The Shropshire Star" in September 2005?:- "Site problems knock out speedtrap plan.

A new speed camera will not be installed on a road which has been branded Shropshire's most dangerous after safety chiefs revealed they were scrapping the plan because of problems with finding a site.

Bosses from West Mercia Safety Camera Partnership have admitted defeat on Smithfield Road in Shrewsbury, because road engineers have been unable to find a suitable location after nearly two years of trying.

But despite the news, the camera partnership today said the number of accidents on the 30mph road had dramatically fallen over the last three years.

At a meeting in March last year camera boss Trevor McAvoy said Smithfield Road had the worst collision record in Shropshire.

He said it eclipsed the A5 and A49 with 65 accidents, seven of them serious, during 1999 to 2001.

But over the last three years there have been just 16 crashes causing injuries, with one serious collision, partnership spokeswoman Vicki Bristow said today.


So... Not having a camera installed resulted in a >75% reduction in accidents... In fact, Shrewsbury's "virtual camera" was the most effective in the county!

jcb said...

Pogo, 11.03 pm, it is not worth responding any further. You haven't got a clue.

Pogo said...

JCB...

ROFL... Ad hominem... The last resort of someone who's been "found out" and has no proper answer.

The Odyssey said...

POGO:
JCB...

ROFL... Ad hominem... The last resort of someone who's been "found out" and has no proper answer.

I thought that was a bit feeble as well. I dont agree with you........but cop out response

Anonymous said...

Clearly jcb is an expert.

It is enough that he knows best. Ha ha ha.

jcb said...

Pogo, I wasn't going to waste any more time dealing with your ill-informed comments. However:

1. The regression-to-mean effect was described by Galton in 1886.

2. I have been applying it routinely for more than 20 years. As have many of my colleagues.

3. Its application in the field of road accidents was described many years ago (not just in 2004 as you claim). e.g. in 1981 - Abbess C., Jarret D., and Wright C.C., Accidents at Blackspots: Estimating the Effect of Remedial Treatment with Special Reference to the Regression-to-Mean Effect,
Traffic Engineering and Control, Vol.22 n.10, pp. 535-542.


4. The Shropshire case you mention is an example of the fact that accident rates at individual sites fluctuate considerably from year to year. That is why it is important to judge the effectiveness of a remedial measure on the average changes for GROUPS of sites.

Now go away and play somewhere else.

jcb said...

Anonymous 12.45 PM said...
"Clearly jcb is an expert.
It is enough that he knows best. Ha ha ha."

I don't claim to be an expert but I do work with people who are recognised world experts in Highway Engineering and Road Safety and some of it rubs off.

Lola said...

Are both pogo and jcb highway engineers? And if so what chance is there of ever getting a 'true' answer to the camera debate?

Pogo said...

JCB... This is getting quite entertaining.

1. The regression-to-mean effect was described by Galton in 1886.

Yes, I know.

2. I have been applying it routinely for more than 20 years. As have many of my colleagues.

Bully for you. Such a shame that you've not been writing DfT policy documents.

3. Its application in the field of road accidents was described many years ago (not just in 2004 as you claim). e.g. in 1981 - Abbess C., Jarret D., and Wright C.C., Accidents at Blackspots: Estimating the Effect of Remedial Treatment with Special Reference to the Regression-to-Mean Effect,
Traffic Engineering and Control, Vol.22 n.10, pp. 535-542.


Indeed, they also did a later paper (1986?) and I believe that Linda Mountain has written on the subject on several occasions. However, by "official recognition" of RTM I meant inclusion in DfT published reports - ie those used for (a) policymaking and (b) bamboozling the press - where reference to RTM in any major report was conspicuous by its absence until Dr Mountain's "Appendix H" in the "Four-year Evaluation Report" of 2005 (dft_roadsafety_610816.pdf), in which she somewhat demolished the claims made in the summary.

4. The Shropshire case you mention is an example of the fact that accident rates at individual sites fluctuate considerably from year to year. That is why it is important to judge the effectiveness of a remedial measure on the average changes for GROUPS of sites.

Yes I know as, before I retired on grounds of ill-health I was a physicist and have, I venture to suggest, a reasonable grasp of mathmatics. I simply find the Shropshire case a highly-amusing example of a "camera partnership" shooting itself comprehensively in the foot by quoting a "result" that was in fact 100% RTM. I feel sure that they would have claimed a huge success had they actually managed to install a camera at that site as it seems to be SOP for the partnerships.

I quoted it, for the same reason that the then-editor of the OED saw fit to include "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" - "sheer personal whimsy". :-)

Now go away and play somewhere else.

But that I could, due to my health "playing" is restricted to winding-up those such as yourself.

Now, be a good boy and nip off and teach granny how to suck the odd egg-or-two.

jcb said...

Pogo said ...
"Now, be a good boy and nip off and teach granny how to suck the odd egg-or-two."

Uh?

I have been a Civil Engineering consultant for more than 20 years (alas, not yet retired). I have carried out research on engineering measures to reduce road accidents and have on numerous occasions advised highway authorities on specific accident sites.

You are a retired physicist.

I suppose that makes you the expert on accidents and highway engineering.

Lola said...

Ahh! jcb. You can't be the jcb I used to work for as that 20 years ago and he's definitely retired by now.

Anyway, on to business. I am still not convinced that SC reduce accidents to the degree claimed by politicians and other agenda groups. I still reckon that proper engineering and passive traffoc management solutions will have the same result in most cases, but cost money rather than raise revenue.

Tell, in all the cases you have advised on would other solutions rather than SC been at least as effective.

BTW I completely accept that SC are useful in certain situations, roadworks being one where once I was nearly falttened by a speeding flatbed transit carrying and towing new caravans.

jcb said...

Lola said ...
"Tell, in all the cases you have advised on would other solutions rather than SC been at least as effective."

I have very rarely advised speed cameras. I believe that flashing speed limit signs (activated when an approaching driver is exceeding the speed limit) are just as effective and are much cheaper. If the accident records suggest that speeding is a significant factor then I recommend them rather than the cameras.

Much is made of the fact that 'excessive speed for the conditions' does not often appear as a primary causation factor in the police accident reports. That does not mean that the police do not consider speed to be important. It just means that other factors such as driver inattention or misjudgement are more likely to be the main cause of the accident. The fact remains that if vehicle(s) are going slower then an accident is less likely.

At many accident sites the cause is related to geometric inadequacies but generally the cost of improving the geometry would be very high and cannot be justified in terms of the potential saving in accident costs.

The most cost-effective accident-reduction measures have been improved signing and road marking. Also anti-skid surfacing at approaches to junctions and pedestrian crossings.

Anonymous said...

So, despite denials, jcb is an expert. We have him to thank for the 'improvements' to our road system.
Thanks a bunch.

Lola said...

jcb. Hmm. Thought so. Being as how I am an ex-highway design engineer.

In other words one could argue that SC's are being treated as profit centres. And to test this all you have to do is put a moratorium on fining.

Pogo said...

JCB: "I suppose that makes you the expert on accidents and highway engineering."

No, not at all... But we aren't discussing engineering, we're discussing statistics and the misuse thereof. It's this very misuse that's allowed camera partnerships and politicians to champion the specious case for speed cameras because it's supported by "science".

I have very rarely advised speed cameras. I believe that flashing speed limit signs (activated when an approaching driver is exceeding the speed limit) are just as effective and are much cheaper. If the accident records suggest that speeding is a significant factor then I recommend them rather than the cameras."

Then I take my hat off to you sir. It shows that there are a few professionals left, rather than the wannabe tax-collectors that appear to make so much traffic policy nowadays, generally along the lines of 'the answer is "install a speed camera", now "what was the question?"'.

I agree (as I've said above) that VAS warnings are a far better solution than cameras in that they alert drivers now rather than allowing them to carry-on regardless and sending an invoice two weeks later. The only slight beef that I have with the way that they're used in my area is that they tend to be set to activate at exactly the speed limit rather than say, the ACPO limit, and consequently flash at virtually everyone, which must surely reduce their impact over a period of time by being seen as effectively "crying wolf!".

Anyway, I'm perfectly happy to leave the engineering to you (just as long as you're not the clown responsible for putting traffic lights on a major roundabout on the edge of Telford and completely cocking-up the traffic flow!). :-)

JCB said...

Lola, I hope you are now in a profession more rewarding than Highway Engineering.

The great majority of speed cameras are installed at sites where there is a history of accidents associated with excessive speed. I don't believe that cash generation is really the the motivation.

However, I think that any profits from the speed camera operation should not go to into the general Treasury coffers but should be ring-fenced and ploughed back into road safety activities.

Man Of The Woods said...

Local Labour MP Anne Snelgrove (no, I have never heard of her either) is handing out leaflets headlined "Save Our Speed Cameras".

No surprise you haven't heard of her. She does bugger all for Swindon except tow the government line. Her voting record says it all.