400,000 ad campaign to help drivers focus on speed cameras

MURDO MACLEOD
POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT

AN advertising campaign costing 400,000 will attempt to persuade Scottish drivers they should love speed cameras.

Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson, along with police and road safety experts, will launch the campaign tomorrow as part of an attempt to stop Scots speeding and reduce accidents.
The scheme aims to tackle the controversial image of speed cameras, which have been derided by critics as little more than money-making devices with little real impact on road safety.

The move comes just days after Britain's most lucrative speed camera was unveiled. It emerged last week that a mobile speed camera on the A11 outside Norwich, caught almost 400 drivers speeding in four hours of operation, raising 22,860 in fines, or almost 6,000 an hour.

Scotland's drivers will be regaled by billboard, TV, and petrol pump advertising in an effort to change attitudes to the cameras and speeding. The campaign is directly funded by the fines from the 6,000 speed cameras in the UK. But the advertising blitz was greeted with scepticism by anti-camera campaigners.

Paul Smith, of the Safe Speed campaign, said: "Hearing of this campaign makes me despair. Speed cameras do not work as a safety measure. They distract from other aspects of road safety, such as driving with awareness and engineering innovations. And in some areas they are effectively being used as a substitute for traffic police."

He added: "Cameras make people think that if they are not speeding then they cannot be doing anything wrong. Police tell me that almost the first thing people say after an accident is that they were not speeding."

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "Provisional figures for 2004, show there were more than 18,000 casualties on Scotland's roads. We want to help tackle that by making drivers more aware of the dangers of speeding and ensure we make Scotland's roads safer for all road users - motorists, cyclists and pedestrians."

Last month, ministers south of the Border announced a break on the spread of speed cameras. Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said that from 2007/08 money from speeding fines will no longer go simply on more speed cameras and instead will be used to fund other road safety measures and better warning signs.

Government-commissioned research, published last month, shows that where cameras had been fitted there had been a 42% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured and a 70% fall in vehicles exceeding the speed limit.