Wednesday, September 14, 2016
If you’re concerned that the concept of road safety has lost its way, here are some facts: 

  1. In 2015 a single speed camera in east London photographed 17,110 drivers. 
  2. Since 2013 the number of average speed cameras has doubled and the UK now has the greatest number in the world. 
  3. In 2015 1.2 million drivers were sent on speed awareness courses – twice the number in 2010. 
  4. Since 2010 the number of police traffic patrols has declined by one third. 
  5. In 2015 there were 8,000 people still driving with 12 points on their licences. 
  6. Between 2010 and 2015 convictions from speed cameras have risen by 43%.

Campaigners claim that road safety is under control but the latest figures don’t bear this out. KSIs (Killed and Serious Injuries) show fatalities are up by 3% and serious injuries down by 2% in 2015. Overall casualty rates have flat lined since 2010. Given the wide proliferation of road camera technology across the country and the rise in convictions you’d expect to see a bigger statistical downward movement in the number of KSIs but their effect to make our roads safer is starting to look questionable. I believe that in the rush to adopt new technology the traditional corner stones of road safety – enforcement, education and engineering – are being ignored. We simply don’t do enough to educate drivers or engineer safer roads. The enforcement element of road safety has become too remote and technology-led.  

Traffic patrols are now so rare you can travel 100 miles without seeing a single police car. And if you really want to make drivers behave better, slow down and comply with motoring laws, then a cop car is the best deterrent we have. It’s mobile, highly visible and is a currency everyone understands.  Speed cameras don’t stop drunk, uninsured or dangerous drivers. Roadside breath tests have fallen by 200,000 since 2009, fixed penalties issued by the police for phone use at the wheel were down 43% in 2013/14 and the Motor Insurance Bureau say claims for accidents with uninsured drivers are up by 10% in the last 12-month period. And here’s the most telling statistic of all. In 2014/15 there were 394 convictions for death by dangerous driving - the highest number recorded since 2008. Looking at these figures we need to try harder with road safety.

But the speed enforcement industry grows and grows. Last year the police earned £54 million from speed awareness courses and one company who provides the courses turned over £44million. Ministers and civil servants continually bow to pressure from speed camera manufacturers and safety campaigners who claim that excess speed should be our most important road safety concern. To counter drastic cuts in road policing installing more cameras allow politicians and local authorities to tick the road safety box with a clear conscience. Yet the shift away from physical road policing hasn’t delivered the fall in accidents or improved road behaviour promised, it’s also disaffected a generation of drivers.  Last year in a survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists 60% of respondents said that the use of speed cameras was motivated by fine revenue. If the law-abiding majority has lost faith in current road safety policies then it really is time for a re-think.

Some will say that the recent 2% increase in traffic is the reason why the latest figures have shown no improvement and that active and passive safety in cars, rather than cameras, have helped reduce occupant deaths and serious injuries.  But these most recent statistics show that police patrols are stopping fewer drivers, and that phone use, drink driving, dangerous and uninsured driving is on the rise. The current system of camera speed enforcement has become a multi-million pound industry involving blue chip companies like 3M, Siemens and Xerox. But all those resources and fine revenue to the Treasury and the police aren’t being used to catch the dangerous minority on our roads that represent the greatest threat to us all. This year van driver Christopher Gard killed a cyclist while texting at the wheel. Magistrates had allowed Gard to keep his licence despite six previous convictions for the same offence.  I believe this country’s road safety policies are all wrong and we badly need more police patrols, education and a reduction in accident black spots through improved road engineering. But we should begin with one simple change: if just some of the tens of millions raised every year in speeding fines and speed awareness courses was used to pay for more police traffic patrols, our roads would begin to feel considerably safer. 
We'd love to know what you think. Add your comments below.
Quentin WIllson

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[ posted by Alan Jamieson , 14.09.16 21:29 ]

As a Driving Instructor, I witness a worrying deterioration of driving standards on a daily basis. I regularly have to take avoiding action to avoid collisions and protect my pupils. Standards are dropping quickly and the DVSA are ineffective in the extreme. They are noting more than a testing agency and do nothing to action any improvement in road safety. It is sad that some learners 'chuck the rule book in the back seat' after passing their Test. I would be delighted to assist you in your commendable endeavours. Please feel free to contact me for a chat, if I could be of use to your great campaign.


[ posted by Les Twigg, 14.09.16 22:23 ]

Every day there seems to be more people staring at their phones on any straight stretch of road, never looking up. When we lived in the city, a large proportion of drivers would go the wrong side of mini islands just because its easier (saw a police car do it). More than once I met someone head on as the were going the short way round.

Signalling appears to be a thing of the past, unless you count indicating as you actually turn!

You see the same cars with one headlight week after week, and sometimes cars with no lights at all on one side, plus the boy racers think it looks cool to drive on fog lights for some inexplicable reason.

Living near the Police headquarters, you would expect to see police cars regularly, but they are rare unless on a call.

Road safety consists of lowering speed limits (often to below a reasonable figure) then use cameras for enforcement. It's the lazy way out and it has no chance of working.


[ posted by Frank, 14.09.16 23:43 ]

Learn cyclists to ride in single file on single carriageways and explain what a red light means at a junction.


[ posted by Top Cat, 15.09.16 00:16 ]

Everything said about speed cameras reducing accidents is fiction. Jan to Aug 2015, 27 were killed in Lincolnshire. Same period 2016 the number is 40. All the things in other comments are true. Just this evening driving home five miles I met 7 (Yes SEVEN vehicles including a Taxi) with only ONE working headlight. I drive many miles in Europe each year and no for a fact that you won't see this as Polizei will immediately stop you and if you haven't the bulb to rectify it will mean a large fine. That is because they have vehicles out on the road. Particularly in Germany the Rules of the Road are strongly adhered to were as in Britain the Highway Code is a farce. Parking, signalling, lane adherence and atrocious driving are all around you, even in the shortest journey. Don't get me started with SORN because even when the Police know they turn a blind eye because they don't have the funds to " tow away".


[ posted by Robert, 15.09.16 08:25 ]

All the way up and down the country there are more speed cameras everywhere. This is nothing to do with safety and more to do with collecting revenue from the poor downtrodden motorist. The government and local authorities are treating the motorist as cash cows and the speed cameras are nothing more than tax collecting boxes. I agree with this article that the best deterrent is more police patrols. I recently drove from Aberdeen to the south coast of England a journey of about 600 miles and only seen 2 police patrol cars and compleatlely lost count of the amount of speed cameras.. I came across many variable speed limit sections which I found very confusing ant totally pointless but I guess it was just another scheme to trap the motorist in to paying out more fines. We still live in ripoff Britain and the government is in on the act as well.


[ posted by Kris, 15.09.16 08:57 ]

Lane hogging.

People that get out in a lane and stay there until the end of there journey, they forget that the outside and middle lane are only for overtaking slower moving vehicles ( they are not there for scenery out of passenger Windows). Lane hogging causes major traffic tailbacks. I know some people I've been in with have said I just stay in outside lane then I dont have to worry about going into somebody if people want to get past they can go up the inside. Maybe patrol cars can help combat this and free up congested roads. Instead of driver awareness course de nd people on motorway driving schools or give offenders a dashcam ( like a ankle tracker for offenders on curfew). And examiners could show drivers the error of there ways by viewing footage.


[ posted by mgreen, 15.09.16 14:29 ]

Absolutely fed up with motorists who Do not adjust speed when joining road from a slip road. Most seem to just dive in on front if vehicles even though there is plenty space behind . I's a case of "I want in so I am going to get in now no matter if I slow you down and there is space behind you". Also, I was taught to signal intention, check if safe to move out then make manoeuvre when safe to do so. Now it's put iindicator on and drive out in front of vehicle at same time. See so much bad driving invested in a dashcam. Last week vehicle overtook on double white lines, driving on hatching at a bend. Need more cameras for speed and definitely more police patrols for bad driving especially on country roads.


[ posted by Sandy Oliphant, 15.09.16 15:23 ]

As far as I'm concerned, speed camera's are not a deterrent. More needs to be done to educate drivers, and especially new ones with regards to motorway driving. I agree with you that camera's are only a money making machine, and there needs to be some of that money, plus what we pay for road tax, pumped back into the system, and make the roads safer. As for this idea someone in Scotland came up with of reducing the limit on a m'way to 60, Sorry, but that is asking for trouble as everybody will just ignore it. Also that is one way to gridlock the roads. Your's sincerely,


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