Featured Article No.8

The speed camera that gives the lie to safety argument


SPEEDING was not a factor in any of the accidents cited to gain government approval for a new speed camera, it was revealed yesterday.

The disclosure heightened, suspicions that speed cameras are being driven by financial motives, but also caused concern among motoring organisations that the devices being used as an easy alternative to taking other measures at accident blackspots.

At the centre of the row is a new camera site on a busy stretch of dual carriageway on the A12 at Kelvedon, near Colchester. The Department of Transport gave approval last month after the Essex Safety Camera Partnership made an application on the ‘ grounds of five accidents in recent years An investigation by the East Anglian Daily Times -which, used the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to police records showed that none of the officers’ reports into the crashes listed “excess speed for conditions” as a factor.

Three of the accidents involved crashes with stationary vehicles and the forth, was a pedestrian who had taken drugs and alcohol and was hit by the wing mirror a passing lorry. In the fifth a man was seriously injured when he lost control of his car after a sweeping curve.

Edmund King, an executive director of the RAC Foundation, said the findings raised “major concerns”. He added: ���We are now seeing camera���s that are placed in location that have nothing to do with excess speed. Yet these partnerships and the police are putting all their eggs in one basket by concentrating on speed cameras and that does nothing to stop dangerous driving Andrew Howard, the head of road safety for the AA Motoring Trust, said: “Speed cameras can be defended because people are getting were injured and killed on the roads and something needs to be done about it. But it can be argued that speed cameras are becoming a bit of an easy option for the authorities. “They are much cheaper than putting an extra lane on a dual carriageway or introducing other measures like improved central barriers to make a road safer.” Essex police insisted yesterday that a follow-up survey had shown drivers regularly far exceeding the speed limit along that stretch of the A12. Kelly Fairweather, of the Essex Safety Camera Partnership -which comprises Essex police, the County Council and the Highways Agency ~ said the new camera would not be a fixed one, but one that operated at irregular intervals from a van on a bridge over the A12. She added: “This location has been approved as a camera site because it has a of very high speeding problem.” A spokesman for the DoT said: “We do not give permission for cameras to be sited in a particular place automatically. It has to be proved that there is a problem with accidents and also with speeding at a site. The rules do not state that an accident or fatal injury has occurred.

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