ACPO in Speed Camera Disarray After Brunstrom Speaks Out
Rethink of Speed Policy Urgently Required
The ABD today encouraged the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and North Wales CC Richard Brunstrom to press ahead with a rethink on speed cameras following the recent confusion surrounding their position.
This week, Mr Brunstrom, ACPO's road policing supremo, was quoted in the Sunday Mirror (1) accepting that 6000 speed cameras placed in so called "accident blackspots" have failed to cut road deaths, and calling for a rethink. "We have to stop somewhere," he said.
This prompted a swift but somewhat contrived statement by ACPO's Ian Bell (2) that Mr Brunstrom was really calling for even more cameras to be put where there had been no accidents.
"We can understand why ACPO are trying to wriggle out of this," said the ABD's Nigel Humphries. "But the quotes attributed to Brunstrom were pretty clear to the Sunday Mirror and pretty clear to us. They have put cameras in all the accident blackspots, caught 2.2 million drivers in a year and it has made no impression on road deaths. That's enough to make anyone rethink their position."
The ABD is not surprised that Richard Brunstrom has started to doubt the value of his fanatical support for speed cameras. Late last year, he told the Institute of Advanced Motorists that some speed limits were "barmy" (3) and should be changed, as they had no public credibility.
"You don't have to be Einstein to work out that his position on cameras became untenable as soon as he uttered these words," continued Humphries. "Campaigning for the rigid enforcement of limits he thinks are bonkers just makes him look foolish. And if he thinks the limits should be higher, he cannot credibly use safety as a justification for their indiscriminate enforcement."
So it is not surprising that this particular penny has begun to drop in Mr Brunstrom's mind.
But he needs to develop his thinking further. The failure of the "speed kills" policy to reduce road deaths over the last ten years means that he has to deal with the fundamental problem - the road safety industry has got the relationship between speed and accidents completely wrong. Unless Mr Brunstrom corrects this, any rethink of camera policy is doomed.
"It is the driver who must manage his speed according to changing road conditions. Nobody else can do it for him - there is no robotic driving process that can match a human," continues Humphries. "So any effective safety policy must focus on helping the driver to do this better, and applying sanctions only when he wilfully does not."
The reason for the failure of "speed kills" is that rigid enforcement of barmy limits prevents the driver from correctly managing his speed, eventually removing his ability to do so. Unbelieveably, key influencers of road safety policy actually think that this is a sensible thing to do. It isn't - it is ruinous thinking that has been banished from every other field of human endeavour as reactionary and dated.
"Speed Kills" is a pernicious and damaging philosophy, born out of sheer ignorance about driving, which is destroying the ability of the motoring public to drive safety," concludes ABD Chairman Brian Gregory. "Only when it is laid to rest can road safety be rebuilt."
(1) What Brunstrom was quoted as saying in the Sunday Mirror
"We have 6,000 cameras in the UK covering every identifiable hotspot, yet road deaths have gone up," said Mr Brunstrom, head of road policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers. "We can't keep on going until there is a camera on each lamppost. We've got to stop somewhere."
The ACPO wants to double the number of cameras to 12,000, but Mr Brunstrom called for a rethink after latest figures showed 3,508 died on our roads in 2003 - the highest figure since 1997. And last year deaths and serious injuries actually increased at one camera site in seven, even though 2.2millon drivers were fined and had three points put on their licence.
(2) ACPO's Ian Bell said:
"Mr Brunstrom's point being is that with almost 6000 approved sites the majority of casualty cluster locations are now in the programme. We know from the Three Year Report that safety cameras work in reducing speed and casualties. The programme now needs to develop to take account of other locations where safety cameras can assist in reducing casualties."
(3) Full Brunstrom quote on speed limits at the IAM dinner:
"Every one of us can think of a speed limit that appears to be completely barmy, utterly bonkers. And if you think it's bonkers you are much less likely to comply with it, he said. What we need are speed limits that have credibility in the public mind. We need to have a root and branch reform of every speed limit throughout the country."