Government Plans For Major Introduction Of Average Speed Cameras

Thursday, 26. May 2016

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I don’t know about you but speed cameras totally confuse me. Many have been shut down around the country because they were too expensive to keep going which is strange because I would have thought anything more than a couple of fines a week and they would be in profit.

I’m a believer in speed cameras being installed near danger spots such as schools, old people’s homes and play areas but as we know they were often put up behind a bush, tree or building where there was no extra danger to pedestrians or other drivers, they were there to catch motorists and boost the coffers of the local authority or those managing the cameras.

Well that’s what I thought but I clearly got that wrong with so many shut down. On the other hand those who argue against speed cameras would claim that they are unnecessary as the number of detected motoring offences more than halved between 2004 and 2014, from 4.33 million to 1.62 million, in their minds proving that cameras are unnecessary. Really?

Maybe it has something to do with the huge drop in active speed cameras. Having reviewed the situation a committee of MP’s have suggested that relatively low cost average speed cameras should be used more widely. These would help to replace the large drop in traffic police who not only caught those speeding but also acted as a deterrent parked at the side of motorways or simply cruising our roads.

The committee have recommended that revenue generated by fines should be re-invested, through road safety grants, rather than kept by local authorities. Even with the shut down of many Gatso’s 90% of all Fixed Penalty Notices in England and Wales are detected by cameras. Exceeding the speed limit resulted in 254 fatal accidents in 2014, 16% of all fatal accidents, as well as 1,199 serious accidents.

Whilst the committee has recommended the use of average speed cameras there are some experts that have said that you have to ask why people speed and in many instances it is a result of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, so these people get away with a fine and points for speeding when in fact they were committing a much more serious crime.

Speed cameras also allow those driving carelessly or without due care and attention to get away with a relatively small fine and 3 points. Personally I’m not sure what the answer is but time will tell if the roads are made safer through the installation of average speed cameras on motorways and A roads. By Graham Hill

Are Roads More Dangerous As A Result Of Ditched Safety Targets

Thursday, 19. November 2015

Are our roads safe enough? Safety organisations and fleet operators think not and are calling for a re-introduction of safety targets called ‘road safety reduction targets. They were first introduced in 1987 but were axed by the Government in 2010.

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The targets were believed to have helped to reduce road deaths and serious injuries on the road each year. Whilst the targets were discontinued in 2010 the road safety community believe that we are now missing a vital component in the tools that make roads safer.

Trade journal, Fleet News, along with the ACFO and the BVRLA have joined forces to try to convince the Government that they need to re-introduce the targets. However, the DfT have said, ‘Britain continues to have some of the safest roads in the world, but every death is a tragedy and we are determined to do more.’

He went on to explain, ‘We are making sure we have the right legal, education and investment frameworks in place to make our roads safer. We have already introduced new laws, given the police tougher powers to tackle dangerous driving and are investing billions to improve the conditions of our road network.

Local authorities are best placed to decide how to use these frameworks to make their roads safer, rather than having centralised national targets.’ Richard Owen, Road Safety Analysis operations director, pointed out that the current Government was opposed to use targets to dictate policy. He said, ‘An example of this is hospital waiting times. This was forcing hospitals to meet numbers and it was having a detrimental impact on patient care.’

However, UK safety bodies believe that targets do make a difference. There is a wider EU target to reduce road fatalities by 50% by 2020, but a lack of clear UK targets takes away focus and sends a message that road safety is not a priority. The DfT’s Reported Road Casualties In Great Britain Annual Report 2014 shows that 1,775 people died on the roads (a 4% increase on the year before). A further 22,807 were seriously injured (a 5% increase).

Casualties of all severities rose to 194,477 in Great Britain in 2014, an increase of 6% over 2013, interrupting a steady downward trend since 1997. Pedestrians and bike riders bore the brunt of the increase. Pedestrian deaths increased by 446, an increase of 12%, accounting for three quarters of the overall rise in fatalities. Serious injuries to cyclists rose by 8% to 3,401continuing a long term trend that has been ongoing since 2004.

In response to the figures Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at safety charity Brake commented, ‘We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of these figures’. Brake join forces with the RAC Foundation and the Institute of Advanced Motorists in calling for the re-introduction of Safety Targets. I find myself agreeing. By Graham Hill

Report Suggests That Speed Cameras Could Lead To More Accidents

Friday, 30. October 2015

As we know many local authorities have questioned the effectiveness of speed cameras with some switching them off completely as they found them just too expensive to maintain. But the presence of speed cameras, whether working or not, are considered to be braking ‘black spots’.

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A study carried out by driver data firm, Wunelli found that hard braking was on average 6 times more likely to occur just before a speed camera with some sites up to 11 times more likely. The report raises concerns that speed cameras actually encourage poor driver behaviour with drivers braking hard within 50 meters of a camera then speeding up immediately after.

The conclusions were reached after analysing data collected collected over a billion miles of motoring resulting in a top ten of speed camera braking black spots. The events were collected within 50 meters of each camera and between 50 and 100 meters in residential areas with 30, 40 and 50mph speed limits.

Founding director of Wunelli, Paul Stacey, explained that he wasn’t in favour of speeding and wasn’t opposed to speed cameras but the report questioned the value of speed cameras as safety tools. He went on to say, ‘They appear top encourage poor driving behaviour. After hard braking, drivers often speed up again.’

Looking at the top ten, number 1 on the list is on the M4 near to Boston Manor rail station, West London. They recorded 57 hard braking events within the 50 meter range, that is 11 times the average. In 2nd place, again 11 times the norm, was a camera on Rochdale Road in Middleton, Greater Manchester. Followed by a camera on the A4146 Leighton Buzzard Road in Hemel Hempstead, Herts running at 8 times the average number of events.

The highest number of single hard-braking events was found at the camera on the A40 Western Avenue, Ruislip, North West London. Here drivers hit the brakes 261 times within 50 meters of the camera. The usual response came from the RAC Foundation pointing out that the law is the law and no-one should be exceeding the speed limit in the first place which would mean that drivers wouldn’t have to slow down at the sight of a speed camera. Really?

Well who’d have thought? The fact is that there must be a better way of controlling speed, someone needs to get their thinking cap on. By Graham Hill

Proposed Changes To The Driving Test – Sensible Or Dopey?

Tuesday, 13. October 2015

You know how sometimes you see an idea and think ‘that is completely dopey.’ Then after a while you think, ‘actually that wasn’t such a bad idea’ but then after further mental analysis decide it was pretty dopey after all? Just me then eh? But this is what I thought when I read an article based on the proposal by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) as the driving test reached its 80th birthday earlier this year.

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They suggested that we should incorporate eco driving into the driving test. Using a scheme similar to that used by Austria of all places. They carry out an initial assessment, as we do, but after a probationary period they carry out a further examination made up of 5 parts. Moving towards dopey. During the probationary period they operate zero tolerance towards driving offences and blood alcohol levels.

Not so dopey, then the new drivers undergo 2 x fifty minute improvement lessons within 2 to 4 months of the first practical test. A day’s further training with a drive psychologist and 2 more 50 minute advanced improvement driving courses complete the test. It all sounds very admirable (and expensive) but with gallons of testosterone flushing around the arteries of our young drivers will all this make the slightest of difference?

Having said that I would like to see all new applicants, as a prequel to their theory test, have to watch the films shown on the speed awareness courses. So summing up I think the idea is pretty dopey and I’m not alone. Graham Hurdle, MD of E-training World pointed out that the driving test has massively evolved since its introduction in 1935 but if we tighten things up too much it will drop the pass rate which would have a substantial effect on the economy as driving keeps business moving (no pun intended).

The driving test can only ever be a snapshot of a driver’s ability at the time he or she takes their test but would the proposals prevent more accidents amongst new drivers? Probably not! If you have a view drop me a note. By Graham Hill

Fewer Traffic Cops = Fewer Motoring Convictions

Wednesday, 22. April 2015

Following on from my notes on the change in law regarding Brits breaking motoring laws in Europe, it would seem that Jonny Foreigner is more likely to get away with offences over here than we are over there as the number of traffic cops in England and Wales has dropped by 23% over the last 4 years.

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In March 2010 the number of traffic cops stood at 5,635 but by March 2014 the number had dropped to 4,356. Some areas have been cut back dramatically, for example Devon and Cornwall have dropped from 539 to just 57 in 2014, a drop of 76% with Essex declining by 71%. The figures have angered the RAC who have said, ‘These figures make a mockery of motoring law.

If there are not enough police on the road, we can introduce all the new rules we want, but those breaking them just will not get caught.’ And to prove the point some figures were recently released that showed the worst speeding culprit to be a moron driving at 128 mph in a 30mph zone exceeding the limit by a mind blowing 98 miles per hour.

The highest recorded speed in the UK was recorded on a camera on the M25 in Kent with two cars hitting 146 miles per hour – twats! The frightening figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request made by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) following which all but 6 of the 36 police forces across England and Wales responded.

Each force that replied had at least one case of a driver exceeding 110MPH. Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive, said, ‘It was disheartening, to say the least, that some road users are showing such disregard for the safety of all other road users. At speeds of 140 MPH it is simply impossible for an individual to react to anything that might happen in front of him.’ By Graham Hill

Tiredness – Big Cause of Car Accidents

Saturday, 24. September 2011

We all know that we shouldn’t drive whilst tired and the electronic signs on the motorways give us frequent warnings telling us that tiredness can kill and we should take a break but did you know that one in five crashes are as a result of tiredness according to the Department for Transport? According to a survey carried out by 79% of Read more

Speed Cameras, Good Or Bad?

Monday, 29. August 2011

The Department for Transport has started to issue statistics on their website relating to individual speed cameras with a mixed response. The overall pictures suggests that road accidents and speed at camera locations is no less than the national average which has dropped over the last 10 years. Mike Penning, Road Safety Minister said that the statistics Read more

Government Decides Not To Ban Speed Camera Detectors

Saturday, 13. August 2011

A GATSO speed camera

Image via Wikipedia

The Government has decided not to ban speed camera detectors as it was felt, by the DfT, that they actually improve driver behaviour. They said ‘Such a move would be inconsistent with (the DfT’s) focus on improving driver behaviour. However, the Government is to ban the use of laser and radar jammers that prevent speed cameras from working. In Read more

Roadside Drug Testing Surprisingly Shelved

Sunday, 24. July 2011

Home Office

Image via Wikipedia

I have reported in the past the progress being made to introduce accurate drug testing with the ability of traffic officers to carry out roadside drug tests. I understood that equipment was now available but awaiting legislation to be passed that would enable police to carry out the tests after stopping suspicious motorists. This move was supported by a poll Read more

Should Speed Limits Be Increased?

Friday, 13. May 2011

The argument over motorway speed limits continues with a number of people now pushing to increase it from 70 to 80 miles per hour. Fleet operators are generally against an increase as they feel it wouldn’t make drivers any more productive or arrive at destinations any quicker. There would also be an increase in operating costs as higher speeds Read more