RAC Cars News


Roads Safer With Speed Cameras

By raccars Published

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After years of controversy, new studies show that roads equipped with speed cameras display a 27% reduction in serious and fatal accidents. The new research was a joint project between University College London and the RAC Foundation and applied to 551 cameras in 9 areas.

Those 551 fixed camera locations studied also showed a 15% reduction on average of personal injury collisions. By contrast, there were 21 locations mentioned in the research that went against the grain, to post increased numbers of collisions since cameras were installed there.

The collision decrease figures took into account a rolling trend for fewer overall collisions in the past few years and discounted unusual rises in collision figures at certain sites just before the research was conducted, sticking instead with the average for that location.

Similar research in 2010 concluded that 800 fewer people were killed or badly injured annually, thanks to the installation of speed cameras, a trend which seems to be reinforced by the latest study. However the rise in collisions at certain sites suggests further research is needed to determine whether other factors are at play. In the meantime, the 11 local authorities relevant to those 21 sites have been notified that some investigation is needed at those locations into positioning and benefits.

Regional differences were also marked, according to the latest figures. The biggest fall in serious and fatal collisions occurred in Leicestershire and Rutland, where 15 camera sites experienced a 53% reduction in accident statistics. Of the sites displaying a rise in collisions, Merseyside was the worst off, with a 5% increase across 33 sites.

Speed cameras are managed by a combination of police forces, councils and road safety organisations, all of whom were instructed by the government two years ago to allow public access to accident statistics at speed camera locations as far back as 1990, allowing pre and post camera installation comparison. However, the RAC Foundation investigation has shown that only a third of organisations have complied with the Department for Transport requirements in the correct format.

The first speed camera was installed in the UK on Surrey's westbound A316 and the programme has received mixed press over the years. While many disparage their use, a recent poll has shown public acceptance of the road safety tool at 84%, suggesting British drivers have become accustomed to their presence on our roads and value road safety.

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