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12/7/2005
UK: Misleading Speed Camera Poster Banned
A UK government agency rules West Yorkshire speed camera advertisements were unsubstantiated and untruthful.

West Yorkshire Camera Partnership
The Advertising Standards Authority, an independent agency that enforces UK laws against false advertising, issued a ruling today against speed camera operators in West Yorkshire. The ad in question depicted a speed camera with an equal sign next to four gravestones with the text, "If you see one of these (a speed camera), it's because of there have been at least four of these (gravestones)."

A member of the public complained that the poster that was meant to be shocking and imply that speed cameras were placed at the location of four speed-related fatalities. Freedom of Information Act requests have shown not only are the accidents used to justify cameras not fatal, they are often completely unrelated to speed, such as the case of a drunk pedestrian being hit by a truck mirror used to justify speed cameras in Essex.

The Authority ruled that the poster made both unsubstantiated and untruthful claims. "We noted the poster was no longer appearing but told WYCRP not to repeat the approach and advised them to contact the CAP Copy Advice team when preparing future similar advertising," the ruling concluded.

Article Excerpt:
Full text of the Ruling --
Date: 7th December 2005
Media: Poster
Sector: Non-commercial

Public Complaints From: Buckinghamshire, West Yorkshire

Complaint:

Objections to a poster for the West Yorkshire Casualty Reduction Partnership. The poster showed a picture of a camera, the sign "=" and pictures of four gravestones with the letters "RIP" on each. Text below stated "WHEN YOU SEE ONE OF THESE (a picture of a camera was shown) IT'S BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN AT LEAST FOUR OF THESE (a picture of a gravestone with the letters "RIP" on it was shown). Text at the bottom of the poster stated "Speed control safety cameras are installed on roads where there have been at least four fatal or very serious crashes." The complainants, who believed speed cameras were placed on roads for a number of reasons, challenged whether the poster misleadingly implied that speed cameras were installed on roads only where there had been at least four deaths.

Codes Section: 3.1, 7.1 (Ed 11)

Adjudication:


Complaints upheld
The West Yorkshire Casualty Reduction Partnership (WYCRP) said the poster contained a visual representation of one of the principal criteria that governed the installation of speed control safety cameras. They explained that the criteria were described in the Department for Transport's (DfTs') Handbook of Rules and Guidance for the National Safety Camera Programme for England and Wales for 2005-06, published in November 2004. They sent an extract from the Handbook; it stated that there must have been at least four killed and seriously injured (KSI) collisions at each proposed core camera site for 2005-06. WYCRP believed the poster was educational and informative, not misleading, because it communicated that speed cameras could only be sited at locations where there had been at least four crashes resulting in death or serious injury. They said the poster was no longer appearing.

We considered that the picture of the camera, the sign "=" and the pictures of the gravestones and the text "WHEN YOU SEE ONE OF THESE ... IT'S BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN AT LEAST FOUR OF THESE" suggested that, wherever a consumer saw a speed camera, there had been at least four deaths at that location. We considered that the text "Speed control safety cameras are installed on roads where there have been at least four fatal or very serious crashes" at the bottom of the poster suggested that speed cameras could also be installed on roads where there had been serious, not fatal, crashes, but considered that that suggestion contradicted the headline claim and pictures.

We studied the DfT's Handbook of Rules and Guidance for the National Safety Camera Programme for England and Wales for 2005-06. We noted, although it stated that there must have been at least four KSI collisions at each proposed core camera site for 2005-06, it also stated " ... These rules do not apply retrospectively to existing sites, the approval of which would have been justified on the basis of the requirements at the time of commissioning ...". We considered that the claim "WHEN YOU SEE ONE OF THESE ... IT'S BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN AT LEAST FOUR OF THESE" and the pictures of the camera and the gravestones did not make clear that the rule applied only to new, not to existing, camera sites. Moreover, we noted the Handbook explained that cameras could be installed at the request of the local community if traffic speeds at a particular site were causing concern for road safety. The Handbook also explained that, if a site had a high incidence of Personal Injury Collisions (PIC) and there was well-founded concern that a failure to reduce speeds at that site would result in future increases in KSI collisions, including deaths, a speed camera could be installed even if there were currently insufficient KSI collisions to meet the criteria. We noted speed cameras could also be installed as a short-term measure where roads, or parts of roads, did not meet minimum engineering requirements or where temporary speed limits had been imposed because of roadworks. We considered that the pictures of the camera and gravestones and the claim "WHEN YOU SEE ONE OF THESE ... IT'S BECAUSE THERE HAVE BEEN AT LEAST FOUR OF THESE", and the claim "Speed control safety cameras are installed on roads where there have been at least four fatal or very serious crashes" were misleading. We noted the poster was no longer appearing but told WYCRP not to repeat the approach and advised them to contact the CAP Copy Advice team when preparing future similar advertising.

The poster breached CAP Code clauses 3.1 (Substantiation) and 7.1 (Truthfulness).


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