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11/5/2005
UK Attempts to Salvage Speed Camera Reputation
UK offers mild reforms to remove the common perception that speed cameras are designed for safety, not revenue.

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Critics are panning efforts by British transportation officials to salvage the reputation of the nation's speed camera program. The Department for Transport (DfT) announced plans to end the "cash for cameras scheme" in a London Times article today. The principal reform would remove a direct profit incentive from the partnerships that operate the ticket machines, ensuring instead that their funding would come from DfT. The same fines, however, would still be turned over to the general treasury.

"It is far too little and far too late," said Safe Speed founder Paul Smith. "Speed cameras do not make our roads safer and never will. They are a dangerous distraction and must be scrapped. They are founded only on bad science, faulty logic, commercial interest and oversimplified thinking. We will not be able to restore road safety trends until the DfT finally wakes up to road safety reality."

The Association of British Drivers points out five reasons why the new reforms are not really reforms at all:
  • the plan leaves unaccountable and secretive camera partnerships intact
  • the plan allows the continued use of cameras
  • the plan diverts some camera funds for more road markings and signs
  • the plan retains the focus on speed limits, not appropriate speed for the conditions
"We're pleased that the government has finally admitted that cameras are about cash, not saving casualties," said Mark McArthur-Christie, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers. "But cameras will still be used, and still be funded from fines."

The DfT maintains its claim that speed cameras save lives and will soon publish a report to bolster the claim. DfT's plan will also remove the current restriction allowing cameras only on roads with a proven accident history. Instead, cameras will soon be placed anywhere designated as an area of "community concern."

Source: March of speed cameras halted (London Times (UK), 11/5/2005)

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