Road accidents hit five-year high despite speed cameras
By Ben Briggs

CRITICS claim that speed cameras are failing after new figures showed the number of accidents in Lancashire was at a five-year high.

In response to the statistics, which showed that minor accidents were at the highest level since 2001 and serious accidents since 1999 the Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety has unveiled plans to install new speed cameras for the first time in two years.

But the decision to start installing two new cameras every year has sparked outrage among an MP and a road safety group.

They feel the partnership has gone back on a pledge in 2004 to stop at the current total of 293 cameras and work on other road safety initiatives.

And they said that the partnership should instead investigate other ways of making Lancashire's roads safer as the new figures "showed speed cameras were failing".

But the bosses at the partnership, made up of councils, the police and other agencies, hit back and claimed that the rise was down to an increase in traffic numbers.

Figures released by the partnership show that there were 912 people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on Lancashire's roads in 2005, a rise of 2.9 per cent on the previous year and the highest rate since 1999 when there were 996 KSIs and less than 70 speed cameras in the county.

Slight casualties also rose by 4.6 per cent to 5,794, the highest level since 2001.

Conservative MP for Ribble Valley, Nigel Evans, said increasing the number of cameras was a "ridiculous" reaction to the figures.

He added: "The speed camera policy has been proven not work.

"The policy of littering the country with speed cameras does not work.

"Other traffic calming measures need to be looked at.

"In my constituency on the A59 between Sabden and Clitheroe we have been calling for the installation of a roundabout yet all they do is stop right turns.

"Maybe they could provide what we needed if the stopped wasting the money on speed cameras."

Paul Smith, founder of Road Safety Campaign, added: "The speed camera policy has been a failure, no two ways about it.

"Figures from the department of transport show that without a shadow of a doubt that only one on 20 crashes involve a speeding vehicle.

"There are some much better targets for improving road safety and they involve targeting rogue drivers who are unlicensed or uninsured.

"To deal with them the police need to be out there on the street."

Mr Smith added that 60 per cent of crashed on UK road roads were caused by the worst 10 per cent of drivers and that they were the ones that needed targeting, a process that could not be helped by more speed cameras.

But Lancashire county Coun Tony Martin, cabinet member for sustainable development, said "he bet there was a 10 per cent increase in vehicle movement" on the county's roads which was the behind the rise.

He added: "We are putting money into road safety but the fact is that the amount of cars keeps going up.

"I don't think it's possible to manage this rise because we have a lot of strategic highways in Lancashire coming up from Manchester and through to Scotland.

"We are dealing with the most dangerous bits first.

"We put speed cameras in the most dangerous locations and they are proven to work, no doubt about it.

"People know were they are and they slow down. We will continue to use them because they are effective but they are not the only solution.

"One death on Lancashire roads cost over £1 million so if I can stop five people getting killed not only are we reducing the emotional impact but also the impact on the tax payer."

And the Leader of Burnley Council Gordon Birtwistle supported the partnership.

He said: "I think it's a good idea to put more speed cameras out there.

"They reduce speed and reduce accidents. I think it's a positive move. People drive to fast.

"They might be nice people on the street but some people change when they get behind the wheel of a car.