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Survey reveals most speed cameras “aren’t even switched on”
A road safety expert has condemned the recent revelation that fewer than half of fixed speed cameras in England and Wales are operational at any one time.
Speaking on ITV East Anglia and BBC London news yesterday, Joanna Bailey, road collisions specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP and spokesperson for road safety charity Brake, said: "Road users and pedestrians are being put at considerable risk. By reducing the amount of cameras in operation - already severely affected by the draconian cuts in funding that were introduced last year - the progress made in reducing tragic, needless and costly road deaths that came as a result of the widespread use of cameras is again being further eroded."
A recent consumer watchdog study has revealed that only 47% of fixed speed cameras in all 43 police authorities in England and Wales were working at any given moment. "The study also revealed that most areas rotated operational cameras at random or only in response to accident statistics," said Joanna.
Huge regional differences were noted with all 60 cameras in Sussex working compared to just 10% of cameras in all of Lancashire's 287 sites. Of the 54 camera sites in Avon and Somerset, 94% were said to be working while only a dozen were found to be operating in Cumbria. Of the 263 cameras in Staffordshire, only 11% were operational.
When asked how many speed camera housings they had under a Freedom of Information Act request, police authorities in Dorset, Hertfordshire, Merseyside, Norfolk and Suffolk refused to answer. Durham said it only used a single mobile camera while Cleveland, North Yorkshire and Wiltshire admitted to not operating any fixed camera sites at all.
"In a recent survey as many as 82 per cent of drivers polled - more than four in five - admitted to sometimes or frequently exceeding the speed limit," said Joanna, a partner with the firm. "What kind of message does it send to motorists who frequently flout the law if they know the majority of speed cameras in certain counties aren't even switched on?"
The most comprehensive study into speed cameras in the UK was published by the University of Liverpool in 2008 and concluded that cameras cut accidents by 19 per cent. Despite this, out of over a thousand motorists surveyed almost a quarter had received a penalty notice for speeding. Of these, 48% admitted paying more attention to driving within the speed limit following their fine, 39% were more cautious about their speed when near a camera and 18% did not bother to change their driving.
"A decrease in the number of cameras and the resulting absence of such an effective speeding deterrent will inevitably lead to an increase in collisions," said Joanna. "The most likely to die in these accidents are sadly those aged between 15-25 with statistics showing that fourteen young people in this age category now die every week on UK roads."
Downing Street has announced it will cut the road safety budgets - which fund measures such as speed cameras, pedestrian crossings, 20mph zones and offender re-education projects - it gives to English and Welsh local authorities by 40% as part of its wider efforts to reduce public spending.
"While it is appreciated that many counties have had to decide between the costs of running cameras and road maintenance," said Joanna, "the decisions being made on a cost-cutting basis signify a lamentable step backwards that will inevitably put many people's lives at risk.
"By switching cameras off and ignoring the vast amount of evidence illustrating how effective cameras are in cutting casualties and slowing traffic, the government is delivering a disastrous blow to those campaigning for speed-cutting measures to be implemented in communities who rely on cameras to protect them, and the numerous families so traumatically bereaved as a result of losing loved ones in accidents that could so easily have been avoided had drivers heeded warnings and measures designed to slow them down."
How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for families and victims of road traffic collisions.
If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.
Read more at BBC News
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