Australian study points to speed camera effectiveness

Meanwhile Norfolk police fearful of switch-off effects

by Mark Appleton   October 7, 2010  

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Speed cameras remain a hot topic in the wake of moves to switch them off in various parts of the UK due to Government funding cuts. Opinions are sharply divided between those who say they reduce the incidence of accidents resulting in injuries and deaths and others who believe they are ineffective as a safety measure and are primarily a revenue-raising tool. The latter is a view the Daily Mail is particularly wedded to.

But now research by the University of Queensland in Brisbane that looked at 35 separate studies into the effectiveness of speed cameras in countries including the UK, US, Norway and Holland has come to an unequivocal conclusion.

"While there is variation in the results, the overall finding is clear – speed cameras do reduce injuries and deaths," said lead researcher Cecilia Wilson.

"Even though some of the studies were not conducted as carefully as others, the consistency in the way that vehicle speeds, crashes, road traffic injuries and deaths all reduced in places where speed cameras were operating shows that these cameras do a good job," she said.

Meanwhile, the county of Norfolk is one place in Britain where the speed camera debate is currently centre stage.

Stephen Bett, chairman of Norfolk Police Authority, told the Eastern Daily Press newspaper that there are concerns that scrapping the safety camera team entirely would jeopardise safety on the county's roads and that a possible solution would be to increase the number of police-operated mobile cameras.

“It is a big worry for the police and for the NHS that, if the cameras go, accidents will increase.

“We're preparing for funding cuts and the inevitable impact that will have on the number of officers on the frontline. We won't be getting any more traffic officers any time soon so a solution needs to be found.

“If we went ahead with the plan, we would be looking at fewer cameras but in better locations. We would be looking at accident blackspots and areas with high volumes of pedestrians, such as schools.

“We could only work with the infrastructure that exists and the reality is we might be looking at more mobile cameras and this could be the most cost effective option.”

Michael Dale, chairman of the Norwich Cycling Campaign, also called for a rethink.

He told the Eastern Daily Press: “The proposal to remove speed cameras from Norfolk's roads is a direct assault on cyclists, pedestrians and law abiding drivers and support for criminals who chose to break the law.

“The council's own figures are that fatalities on the roads in Norwich have fallen by 27pc in two years largely due to speed cameras.

“Cuts in speed cameras, as the council freely admits, will lead to an increase in deaths or serious injury to Norfolk residents especially children who represent a disproportionally high number of victims of speeding drivers.”