Research from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) suggests that there are conflicting views among motorists about whether councils are doing the right thing in switching speed cameras off as a result of the coalition government’s £38 million reduction in the road safety grant.
As reported on road.cc in recent weeks, a number of councils are considering following the example of Swindon and Oxfordshire in turning their cameras off following the reduction in central road safety funding.
Some 44% of respondents to the survey of 1,000 people across England, Wales and Scotland said that the government was right to cut central funding for cameras, with 26% saying they were against it. A further 30% claimed to be unsure or expressed no opinion. Overall, 70% were in favour of safety cameras.
The research, published earlier this month, also found that there was something of a contradiction among drivers between their recognition of speed cameras’ safety benefits and their reluctance to face paying a fine if they were caught speeding themselves.
Kevin Delaney IAM Head of Road Safety, said: “A lot of people like the idea of a camera on their street, slowing the traffic and making their area safer, but feel cheated when they confront one on a main road or in a different area. Rather than being purely hypocritical, it suggests drivers are seeing the lifesaving effects of cameras, but resent being caught out by them.”
He added: “It is the exact opposite of Nimbyism – everybody wants one in their own back yard, but nowhere else.”
By gender, there was a significant difference in attitudes, with 55% of men in favour of cameras being switched off, but only 33% of women, who were also more disposed than men towards speed cameras in the first place.
Around one in two respondents, 49%, believed that the main reason for safety cameras was to raise revenue by fining drivers, while 26% disagreed with that view, with a similar proportion either unsure or expressing no opinion.
In terms of region, Londoners at 61% expressed the highest level of support for withdrawal of central funding for cameras, although evidence from other surveys suggests residents of the capital are less likely to have access to a car than those elsewhere, closely followed by those in the East Midlands and the North West, both at 59%. The lowest levels of support came from the South East, at 31%, and West Midlands, at 33%.
The survey also found that more than one in five respondents – 22% - had either themselves been convicted of speeding during the previous three years as a result of camera evidence, or someone in their household had been.
Mr Delaney added: “The 11 year study shows that support has declined slightly over time, but that cameras have maintained a good level of approval overall among the motoring public. There are still many people who believe that safety cameras are primarily for raising revenue who need convincing that well placed safety cameras really do deliver fewer deaths and serious injuries.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.