Speed Cameras – a Necessary Evil or No Good to Mankind?

Author: Anna Hallam

In October 2008 Swindon announced that they would be scrapping the fixed point speed cameras that previously caught speeding motorists in over eighty different locations. The controversial move has sparked debate across the country, with some decrying the decision and others applauding it. By November 2008 it was reported that Portsmouth, Walsall and Birmingham were all considering copying Swindon, but is banning the speed cameras the right thing to do? Nobody likes them, but let’s have a look at some of the arguments surrounding the issue.

2002 saw the introduction of Safety Cameras in the Swindon, and according to statistics the numbers of road-related fatalities has fallen noticeably since then. The number of people killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads fell by 5% and for children it reduced by as much as 33%; so is this a direct result of the cameras? Statistics again would say not; there were seventy fatalities on Swindon’s streets in 2007-08 and that seems to be proof that speed cameras did not make the roads safer.

The money from fined motorists caught speeding goes directly to the HM Treasury; neither the police nor local councils profit from the cameras, yet it costs a council like Portsmouth £380,000 a year of public money for six fixed speed cameras. Swindon has been accused of saving money over saving lives, yet if the cameras truly don’t work surely it’s best to stop spending money on them and start spending money on finding other traffic calming measures that do work.

The motoring public:
Speed cameras rarely work because speeding drivers simply slow down to pass them and very often speed back up again afterwards. When they do catch someone speeding it is likely that the driver won’t even realise until the fine arrives in the post some two weeks after; then because the driver has achieved distance from the offense, both literately and figuratively, the fine does very little to raise awareness of the danger of going too fast. Instead the cameras have bred a feeling of animosity in the motoring community, and have alienated the public against road safety efforts. Drivers feel as though the government is trying to ‘catch them out’ in order to make money rather than help them to reduce speed related fatalities. In the end, because the public sees the cameras as ‘the enemy’, they will never be effective in helping repeat offenders see the error of their ways.

The fear of being caught:
It’s true that most people who know that there is a camera will slow down for the camera and speed up afterwards, but what if a driver is on an unfamiliar road? The warning sign for a speed camera is often enough to make people check their speed and slow down regardless of whether there is actually a camera or not. Although not as preferable as people keeping to the speed limit of their own accord, the fact that drivers are frightened to speed on roads that might have a camera is a lesser evil than speeding and causing an accident. By removing the cameras Swindon is removing the ‘fear’, and might end up seeing a lot more speed limits broken than they anticipate.

Ultimately we have to face the fact that speed cameras will not stop crashes completely ; only we as the motoring public can do that by facing up to our responsibilities and becoming better drivers. As Tony Simcock, driving instructor and director of The Big Red L Company in Kent commented, “Speed cameras have helped raise the awareness that ‘Inappropriate Speed Kills’; however, unless motorists across the UK begin to drive in a way that significantly reduces the risks to our children, to other road users and to themselves, we will always be faced with government initiatives that are blanket measures that appear out of place or heavy handed.” He continues, “I do a lot of driving, I try to stick to speed limits, have never been caught speeding, I am very rarely late for a meeting and have never been involved in an injury accident – is that coincidence, or good driving?”

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/cars-articles/speed-cameras-a-necessary-evil-or-no-good-to-mankind-635025.html

About the Author:

Anna Hallam writes on behalf of The Big Red L Company who provide driving lessons throughout Kent; and for their sister site, www.intensives.co.uk who provide intensive driving courses throughout the UK. For more info visit www.bigredl.co.uk

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