Yorkshire police criticised for delaying speed cameras
York council boss says cameras would prevent injury – but new Drivers’ Alliance report suggests the opposite
York council’s transport boss has criticised police over delays in introducing speed cameras into the city.
The York Press reports that Councillor Steve Galloway, the local council’s executive member for city strategy, is concerned at the lack of progress since the issue was last discussed six months ago.
City of York and North Yorkshire County Councils have agreed in principle to look at whether mobile speed cameras could be used as they try to cut the number of deaths and serious injuries on local roads.
Now Councillor Galloway says he wants to meet the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire, Grahame Maxwell, to discuss how police can use VASCAR-type systems, which determine whether drivers are breaking the law by calculating their average speed between two points.
Council officers have said that while there are no suitable sites in North Yorkshire for fixed cameras, mobile alternatives could be set up at 28 locations, including three in York, and bringing them in could prevent 31 people being killed or seriously injured over four years.
Councillor Galloway said, “I still believe that mobile safety cameras should be a technique available to the police. It enables them to target known accident black spots where excessive speed may be a contributory factor to the severity of accidents.
“We have made excellent progress over the last two years in reducing the number of serious road traffic accidents in the city by 36 per cent. We now need to keep up the momentum and ensure that aggressive or careless drivers are aware that sooner or later they will be identified.”
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said: “Officers carry out speed enforcement as a routine part of their patrols. The VASCAR speed detection devices are currently being replaced as officers receive training in a new generation of devices that have a greater functionality.
“We work with our partners to identify problem locations and carry out enforcement operations when and where appropriate.”
Meanwhile, pressure continues from some quarters to dispense with speed cameras altogether – on safety grounds.
A new report from The TaxPayers’ Alliance and The Drivers’ Alliance says that since speed cameras were introduced in 1991, the number of accidents has been falling more slowly than before, leading – they say – to an extra 1.5 million casualties than there would have been if the 1978-1990 trend had continued.
“Speed cameras have been a false hope in improving safety on British roads,” said Peter Roberts, chief executive of the Drivers’ Alliance. “Close statistical analysis of road casualties shows that, since speed cameras have been the main driver of road safety policy, the road causality rate has not gone down at the trajectory expected. It is time to rethink road safety policy so that it has broadened focus, not solely based on speed. No more speed cameras should be funded by local authorities and existing speed cameras should be removed.”
Jennifer Dunn, policy analyst for the Drivers’ Alliance, explained, “Around 1991 when speed cameras were introduced there was a narrowing of focus for road safety on the issue of speed to the exclusion of other factors. So if there was an accident blackspot the solution was often to install a speed camera and consider imposing speed restrictions. But there are lots of other potential contributory factors – like poor visibility, bad road surfaces and so on – which could and should be considered.”
CTC Campaigns and Policy Director Roger Geffen said: “CTC supports both a substantial increase in traffic policing and the use of speed cameras - it's not an 'either-or' situation.
"Contrary to media mythology, around three quarters of the public supports speed cameras, and for a very good reason: they save lives and make our streets safer, particularly for pedestrians, cyclists, children and older people. These groups are disproportionately the victims of irresponsible driving on our roads and streets.
"Speed is to blame for around a third of all road fatalities. Nobody likes to put a monetary value on a human life, yet the Department for Transport does just that. They say that cost to society of a death on our roads is £1.7M. On that basis, the cost to society of the 740 people killed last year by people driving too fast was a cool £1,200M.
"So there can be no justification whatsoever for these self-appointed representatives of 'drivers' and 'tax-payers' whingeing about £65M of fines being taken from criminals. If they don't like the laws of the land, let them argue for higher limits - we think most decent-minded people will strongly disagree. But to argue against the enforcement of society's rules, designed to protect human life, is simply beneath contempt.”