Speed Enforcement Needs Firm Regulation

The ABD calls for a firm regulatory framework for the UK speed enforcement industry.

For many years now, the Alliance of British Drivers has become increasingly concerned that the UK road safety industry has been evolving an unhealthy and – in road safety terms – counterproductive obsession with speed management; best characterised by the phrase: “The answer’s a speed camera, what’s the problem?”.

The overwhelming majority of road accidents are not caused by exceeding speed limits, but by poor observation and inattention. Casualty accidents that involve speeds that are inappropriate, highly excessive and illegal never involve the sober, otherwise legal drivers exceeding (often inappropriately low) speed limits by small margins that make up the vast majority of prosecutions.

The perpetrators of road accidents that do involve inappropriate, highly excessive, illegal speed are almost invariably grossly perceptually-impaired by alcohol and/ or drug abuse and/ or are engaged in other outright criminal activity: e.g., car (or property) theft, street racing or indeed terrorist activity. If you’re in any doubt about how true this is, try Googling: “Killed by a speeding driver”. Alternatively see, for example, the coverage of the horrific A38/A4540 Belgrave Middleway incident in central Birmingham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlldeUHFWG4; which appears to have been a direct result of street racing.

Such criminal road users are totally oblivious to, or contemptuous of, any form of automated speed enforcement. This means that speed cameras can never cut casualties. This fact was established beyond any reasonable doubt by intensive investigation undertaken by Paul Garvin whilst he was Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary[Ref.1,2].

Paul Garvin’s views are wholly corroborated by detailed studies undertaken by independent road safety researcher, Idris Francis[Ref.3], to capture the influence of Regression to the Mean on road death and serious injury rates since the 1950s. These studies show no discernible casualty rate fall advantages – perhaps worse ones – for road stretches equipped with fixed (or mobile) speed cameras over those stretches without any cameras [see fatal and serious casualties [FSC] chart below and Ref.4].

Instead of tackling the pernicious problems posed by the very specific group of criminal road users identified above – through the provision of an adequate, highly-trained, physical police presence on our roads – the DfT and the UK road safety industry instead choose to use their behaviour as sham legitimisation for the relentless persecution and financial exploitation of the overwhelming majority of essentially safe road users.

The ABD calls for the following:

1. The reinstatement of a cadre of dedicated, highly-trained, road traffic officers; whose objective is to improve road safety by eradicating unsafe road use, rather than primarily collecting fine-/speed awareness course attendee revenues associated with trivial transgressions.

2. The creation of a truly independent and objective Road Accident Investigation Board. Along the lines of the marine and aviation counterparts; this body would investigate the causes of road accidents, formulate and implement effective road safety policy and regulate UK speed enforcement operations.

3. The abolition of any motive encouraging speed enforcement for profit. There must be a total financial segregation between those involved in speed enforcement operations and any revenue streams arising from the prosecution or rehabilitation of speed limit offenders.

4. The abolition of all those private limited companies that are active in road safety policy formulation and implementation; and their replacement with transparent, wholly publicly accountable bodies. Such bodies must be responsive to public concerns about the irresponsible, unregulated abuse of power. There should be no exercise of such power without responsibility and accountability.

Note: The ABD has been supporting a campaign named AMPOW against the abuse of police waivers and speed awareness courses. See this web site for more information: http://www.speed-awareness.org/.

1. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/speeding-drivers-fine-mess-1603148
2. ‘Speed Cameras don’t save lives’, Durham Constabulary Chief Constable Paul Garvin, Sunday Telegraph, December 7th, 2003, p.8.
3. http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Speed-Camera-Damage-to-road-safety-03a1c91.pdf.
4. http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/SPEED-CAMERA-DAMAGE-UPDATE.pdf


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