SILENT KILLER: The speed camera

Wednesday May 13,2009

By John Ingham and Anil Dawar

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THE battle to slash road deaths using speed cameras was exposed as a sham last night as figures showed thousands of lives could have been saved *without them.

A study claimed that 10,000 men, women and children killed in motoring accidents might still be alive if speed traps had been scrapped in favour of more traffic police.
Campaigners last night hit out at the Government’s flawed road-safety policy and pointed to the vast reduction in patrol numbers since Labour came to power in 1997.
Figures reveal the rate at which deaths have fallen has slowed signif*icantly since 1995 when the controversial speed cameras came in.
Between 1980 and 1995 UK road death rates were falling 7.1 per cent a year. But since speed cameras arrived, deaths have fallen just 2.8 per cent annually. Experts say that if the pre-1995 rate had continued 9,674 lives could have been saved.
Last week the Government was accused of using speed cameras as a “cash cow” after it was revealed that the Treasury raked around £100million a year in fines.
The damning road-death figures, seen by the Daily Express, were compiled by independent pressure group Transport Watch and based on Department for Transport statistics. Transport Watch director Peter Withrington, said: “If they had done nothing to change the existing policy before speed cameras and road humps were brought in we would have had thousands of lives saved.”
Between 1980 and 1995, UK deaths per billion vehicle miles fell from around 22 to about nine without speed cameras and road humps.
From 1995 to 2007 Government figures show the death rate fell from nine to six, a reduction of just three deaths in 12 years compared with a drop of 13 in the previous 15 years.

A recent survey found that there were 4,309 speed cameras in the UK and just 1,904 police traffic patrol cars – 2.2 cameras for every vehicle.
Brian Gregory of the Association of British Drivers said the figures proved speed cameras didn’t help save lives. Labour has presided over a 20 per cent fall in traffic police. Adrian Tink of the RAC Foundation said: “We would like to see more *traffic police. They are a more useful deterrent against careless driving than cameras.”
The Department for Transport said: “We’ve cut the number of *people killed or seriously injured on the roads each year by more than a third since the mid-1990s. That means almost 17,000 fewer deaths or serious injuries in a year.”