Speed camera casualty reduction claims are false
Vysionics ITS, makers of SPECS average-speed cameras, have agreed with the Advertising Standards Authority to change their advertising claims, following a complaint from Malcolm Heymer, traffic management adviser to the Alliance of British Drivers.
Vysionics claimed that SPECS installations “on average reduce KSIs (Killed and Seriously Injured casualties) by more than 70 per cent”. The clear implication of this wording is that the entire reduction in casualties was due to the cameras alone. As Malcolm Heymer points out, this cannot be the case: “Road accidents require two or more contributory factors to come together at the same time. This means there is an element of chance, so accident numbers along a particular section of road will always vary from year to year. Speed cameras are usually installed after two or three years of above average accident numbers. There is a very strong chance, therefore, that the numbers would drop again of their own accord anyway. When they do, the speed cameras undeservedly get the credit. This is the biggest cause of the exaggerated claims for speed cameras.”
Heymer continues, “Other factors are also involved, especially the national downward trend in casualties, particularly those involving serious injuries and deaths. For instance, between 2004-06 and 2008-10, KSIs on rural A-roads nationally fell by 26 per cent. In many cases where speed cameras are installed, other engineering improvements are made at the same time. Even fairly minor changes to junctions, signs and road markings can make a significant difference to accident frequency. When all these factors are taken into account, there is often no discernible benefit from speed cameras at all.”
The ABD’s deputy chairman, Brian Gregory, concludes, “This is long overdue recognition that the claims of the whole speed enforcement industry are exaggerated and self-serving. The huge increase in speeding penalties in recent years has contributed nothing to the downward trend in casualties which, since 2008, has been largely due to the economic downturn. A similar downward trend has been seen in other developed countries, regardless of whether they use speed cameras. The main cause of road accidents is inattention, so this is where road safety policies should be focussed.”