6/15/2007UK: World Speed Camera Capital Loses Safety Crown
The UK has more speed cameras than any other country yet has fallen in world safety statistics.
A European Transport Safety Council report issued Monday showed that the UK had fallen behind other European nations in road safety. Across Europe, road deaths dropped an average of 18 percent between 2001 and 2005 while the same figure for the UK stood at just 7 percent. This put Britain behind Greece, Slovakia and the Czech Republic in terms of progress. Britain also trailed Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland in per capita traffic fatalities.
"After 28 years of having the safest roads in Europe we have finally lost our crown," road safety expert Paul Smith of Safe Speed said. "There's one reason and one reason only. We have had bad road safety policy since the early 1990s. At the center of the bad policy are speed cameras and the oversimplified notion that 'slower is safer' -- if only things were so simple."
Since 1998, the UK focused on replacing traffic police with the largest deployment of photo ticketing devices in the world. England and Wales used 2544 fixed speed cameras, 2373 mobile speed cameras, 603 red light cameras, 15 SPECS average speed cameras and 27 route speed cameras for a total of 5562 ticket cameras. This does not include photo enforcement devices used by local governments that are not part of the national program, cameras in use in Scotland and Northern Ireland or closed circuit TV cameras used to issue parking tickets and other violations.
While camera use exploded, the number of human traffic police declined 13 percent -- from 7525 in 1998 to 6511 in 2005. In 2004, cameras issued 1,913,700 citations worth £115 million (US $226 million) while humans issued just 191,100 worth £11 million (US $22 million) -- nine percent of the total. A 2005 study funded by the UK Department for Transport showed police patrols tended to reduce the number of accidents while sites with speed cameras had a "significantly higher" injury accident rate.
The Transport Safety Council placed the blame on a failure in many nations to catch those driving under the influence of alcohol.
"In these countries, developments in drink driving deaths have rather slowed down overall progress in reducing road deaths," the report stated.
The ETSC report is available in a 3.4mb PDF file at the source link below.