Death rate 'down at speed camera sites'

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The Independent Online

The Government hit back at speed camera critics today by publishing figures showing the devices were considerably reducing deaths and serious injuries. Produced by University College London, the statistics showed that deaths and serious injuries had fallen by an average of 40 per cent at camera sites in the three years to mid-2003.

The Government hit back at speed camera critics today by publishing figures showing the devices were considerably reducing deaths and serious injuries. Produced by University College London, the statistics showed that deaths and serious injuries had fallen by an average of 40 per cent at camera sites in the three years to mid-2003.

This was the equivalent of 100 fewer deaths a year - a figure hailed by Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, and safety and environment groups. But the staunch anti-camera group the Safe Speed Road Safety Campaign said the figures were "deeply flawed", while the Association of British Drivers said the UK's road-death reduction rate was far lower than that of some European countries.

As many as 42 police force areas in England, Scotland and Wales are now in the Government's camera partnership scheme in which money raised goes into camera activity and the Treasury receives any surplus money raised. However, the report today covered only just over half of these partnerships, as the others have started since the study began.

The report showed:

  • There was a 40 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI). :: There were 870 fewer KSIs per year, including more than 100 fewer deaths.
  • There was a 33 per cent fall in injury accidents - 4,030 fewer per year
  • There was a 35 per cent reduction in the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured. :: Average speeds at the most recently-introduced camera sites fell by around 7 per cent or 2.4mph
  • Average speed at urban sites fell by around 8 per cent
  • The number of vehicles speeding at new camera sites dropped by 71 per cent
  • 79 per cent of people surveyed supported the use of cameras to reduce casualties
  • The benefit to society through casualties saved was about £221 million a year

Mr Darling said he recognised there had been controversy over the cameras and that people felt resentful from time to time. He continued: "These figures prove that cameras save lives. The number of people speeding has come down and there has been a significant reduction in deaths and injuries at camera sites. "Up to 10 people are killed on our roads each day. We owe it to them and their families to do everything we can to improve road safety even further.

"Most camera sites have achieved good results. We will be asking the partnerships where results were not as good as other sites to see what more could be done to achieve the greatest casualty reductions." He went on: "We've published the location of every site where a camera may be used. These show why the cameras were installed and the effect they have had on casualties.

"The vast majority have delivered real benefits in safety and prove that the cameras are justified and they're effective. "I have asked the partnerships who operate the cameras to take a look at the details of the sites. It is for them to ensure that the cameras which have had less impact on reducing casualties are needed and are still the best road safety solution."

The Conservatives said there still a suspicion that many cameras were only to raise money, while the Liberal Democrats said he hoped today's report would help silence those politicians who had advocated the removal of cameras. The Association of Chief Police Officers said the report showed that cameras did and could save lives, while the AA Motoring Trust said that motorists needed to be reminded that cameras were about safety and not revenue. Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed Safety Campaign, said the figures were flawed. "It's like the Government finding 1000 flu patients, giving them a sugar lump and then saying sugar lumps cure flu," he added.

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