Buckinghamshire County Council is to monitor vehicle speeds at two sites where speed cameras have been deactivated, while there have been calls for the body to reconsider its street light switch-off trial following an inquest into a fatal road accident, the Bucks Free Press reports.
On the speed camera issue, councillor Valerie Letheren, cabinet member for transportation, told the newspaper: “The plans for a phased withdrawal, which may result in the cameras staying but not being used while speeds are monitored, will allow the council to ensure that safety is not compromised.
“Motorists may not notice anything different about the camera locations whilst these steps are taken.”
However, many observers believe it is impossible for speed cameras to be switched off without road safety eventually being compromised. Critics suggest that even if, in the short term, motorists continue to slow down at inoperative speed camera sites, eventually on realising that the cameras do not flash, their speeds will start to rise, resulting in an increased risk to vulnerable road users.
Meanwhile on the issue of street light switch-offs, the Free Press reports that a parish councillor has suggested that his counterparts at county level are ignoring the evidence that fewer lights inevitably leads to more dangerous roads.
Gerrards Cross Parish Council Chairman Chris Brown was speaking after an inquest into the death of 23-year-old Elaine Stacey who died when the car she was driving was struck by another on a partially flooded, unlit stretch of road near Chalfont St Peter, in February.
The street lights has been switched off on that section of the A413 as part of a cost saving trial and when a car drove into standing water its driver lost control of his vehicle which crossed the central reservation into the path of Elaine’s car.
“Whenever we have heavy rain it's always a problem. The left hand side of the carriageway between Gerrards Cross and Chalfont St Peter was always under water," said Councillor Brown.
“When the lights were on it wasn't so bad – when they went off it was more dangerous, it took you by surprise.
“When it's pitch black you're onto it before you realise. This accident was really down to that. If the lights had been on there's a good chance it wouldn't have happened.
"Bucks County Council are being very head in the sand about the whole thing. The street light switch-off is very ill-considered,” he said.
We hope to update this story with a response to some questions we have put to Buckinghamshire County Council's transport department.