Vital anti-speeding measures to be withdrawn following funding cuts

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Vital anti-speeding measures to be withdrawn following funding cuts

27th July 2010

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.

Despite this, thousands of speed cameras are set to disappear across England and Wales due to vital road safety programmes being disbanded by some local authorities following huge cuts to the road safety grant provided by central Government.

Joanna Bailey a spokesperson for road safety charity Brake said: "It is of huge concern that vital road safety work is now grinding to a halt as a result of the draconian funding cuts currently being made by the Government. There has been a massive amount of progress in reducing tragic, needless and costly road deaths and injuries in recent years. By withdrawing existing measures that are proven to prevent deaths and injuries this progress is now at considerable risk of being undone."

A 40 per cent funding cut to the grant provided by central Government to local authorities, which funds speed cameras and a range of other measures such as pedestrian crossings, 20mph zones and educational projects, such as offender re-education has led Oxfordshire county council officials to recommend a £600,000 slash in funding to the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership.

Despite three deaths and 150 injuries occurring every week on Thames Valley roads, the partnership could switch off its seventy-nine fixed speed cameras by August resulting in the eventual disappearance of every speed camera in the county.

"The decisions being made on a cost-cutting basis are extremely frustrating," said Joanna, a road traffic collisions expert at Fentons Solicitors LLP. "While it is appreciated that Oxfordshire have had to decide between the costs of running cameras and road maintenance, the switching off of these cameras will still however come at a huge economic price. There will be substantial costs incurred by the emergency services as well as treatment costs due to the hospitalisation of road traffic collisions victims. This will in turn lead to an inordinate number of hours lost as a result of victims being taken temporarily or permanently out of the labour market and thus becoming unable to contribute to the tax system."

Amid fears of a domino effect with other counties poised to follow suit, it was announced that camera networks in Devon and Cornwall, Somerset and Northamptonshire are also under review following the government's recent decision to claw back £38m from the £95m 2010-11 local authorities' road safety budget and to remove funding for all new speed cameras.

"These decisions signify a lamentable step backwards that will consequently put many people's lives at risk," warned Joanna, a partner with the firm. "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. 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."

Introduced in 1992, approximately 6,000 speed cameras are currently in operation across Britain, generating an estimated £100m in fines each year. The money raised as a result goes directly into Treasury coffers despite complaints by local authorities who claim they should be able to retain the proceeds for spending on road safety. Unsurprisingly many motorists believe cameras are simply a source of revenue rather then an effective means of implementing road safety.

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, only 27 per cent of the 3280 drivers polled believed speed cameras actually improved road safety, with 14 per cent admitting to having been caught speeding in the last year.

"There is a vast amount of evidence illustrating how effective speed-cameras are in cutting casualties and slowing traffic," said Joanna. "By turning these cameras off, and cancelling funding for other important road safety work, the government is delivering a disastrous blow to those campaigning for speed-cutting measures to be implemented in their neighbourhoods, those 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 have been avoided had drivers heeded warnings and measures designed to slow them down."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for families and victims of fatalroad traffic collision.

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.

Source - The Times