Turning off speed cameras 'could increase deaths'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Switching off all speed cameras could lead to 800 extra deaths or serious injuries a year on the roads, a report from a leading transport academic said today.

Speed cameras have offered continuing road safety benefits since they were introduced, added Professor Richard Allsop of University College London.

He said a large majority of the public have consistently backed the use of cameras.

Following reductions in central Government grants to local authorities, some councils have switched off speed cameras.

Prepared for the RAC Foundation, Prof Allsop's report said that 800 more people could be killed or seriously injured each year on Britain's roads if all fixed and mobile speed cameras operational before the cutbacks were to be decommissioned.

Prof Allsop, who is University College's emeritus professor of transport studies, said the benefits of cameras were not just to be found at camera sites but across the wider road network.

His report also said that in 2007 just £4 out of every £60 raised in speed camera penalties was net income to the Treasury and there was no surplus for local authorities or the police.

Commenting on the report, Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The current crisis in funding for speed cameras - and road safety in general - leaves road users at real risk.

"The Government has said decisions on speed camera funding must be taken at local level which is why we are sending this evidence (from Prof Allsop's report) direct to all highway authorities. Councillors are perfectly within their rights to use scarce resources on things other than cameras but they need to know what the consequences could be."

Prof Glaister went on: "Prof Allsop's work suggests scrapping cameras would be a big mistake because the cash to install them has already been spent; they save lives and demonstrate value for money; and despite the headlines, most people accept the need for them.

"Speed cameras should never be the only weapon in the road safety armoury, but nor should they be absent from the battle. Some politicians say there are more cost-effective ways to save life on the highway. It is the responsibility of these people to demonstrate what these are."

Road Safety minister Mike Penning said: "The coalition Government is committed to further improving road safety but it is right that local councils decide how best to tackle specific problems in their areas.

"We ended central Government funding for new fixed speed cameras because we don't believe we should dictate to councils that they use them as the default solution in reducing accidents."

He went on: "It is not true however that the Government has cut all funding for road safety; rather we have removed ring-fencing from local authority grants so that councils are able to set their own priorities.

"We would expect that road safety would remain a priority for local communities and that local spending would reflect that."

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