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EDITIONS
Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Six Forum: Speed Cameras
Theo Panayi from the Institute of Road Safety Officers answered your questions in a live forum for the BBC's Six O'clock news, presented by Manisha Tank.

  Click here to watch the forum.  

  • Click here to read the transcript


    People will die because of new government moves to paint speed cameras yellow and restrict them to accident blackspots, MPs have warned.

    According to a report by the Commons transport select committee, "there was no scientific research to support this decision. People will die as a result".

    The committee says the government has changed the rules to appease the motoring lobby.

    However, motoring group the RAC Foundation has accused the MPs' report of being unfair and naive in attacking the government, when much money is being spent on road safety campaigns.

    Are speed cameras a good deterrent? How can road deaths be reduced?

    The forum has finished. Thank you for your questions.


    Transcript


    Manisha Tank:

    Hello and welcome to this Six O'Clock News Online forum. We're talking about speed cameras. Many of us have seen them on the roadside and some of you may even have slowed down as you've gone past them. MPs are criticising government plans to make the cameras more visible by painting them yellow and also to place them at accident black spots. The MPs are saying that it could in fact result in more deaths on the road.

    You sent us many e-mails and text messages on the subject and here to respond to them is Theo Panayi, who is a senior road safety officer who is here on behalf of the Institute of Road Safety Officers.

    We've had many people writing in about that statistics behind all of this. One of them is Mark Sanders : In Northamptonshire, which is one of the highest users of speed cameras, the road death toll has risen once again. There is no statistical data to show that speed cameras have any effect on the number of road deaths.


    Theo Panayi:

    The Northamptonshire Safety Camera Partnership, which has both members from the police, the local authority and other groups, have many speed cameras in their area and overall their partnership has shown a 67% reduction in killed or seriously injured at the camera sites where they've put them in. Their cameras are blue and they have been treated with yellow on the front and the back, as most cameras have.

    So statistically in that area there has been a reduction in road casualties. One example, in Kettering, where there were 10 accidents previously in the three years before putting a camera - there's only been one accident in 21 months of that camera being in place. So statistically it does show that in Northamptonshire there has been a significant reduction in killed or seriously injured at sites.


    Manisha Tank:

    Obviously it's all about where you are and on that subject we have a text message from JH: I agree with cameras in built-up areas, but why put speed cameras where they are not needed? Also why reduce dual carriage-ways to 60 miles per hour?


    Theo Panayi:

    The cameras are placed in sites where there are people being hurt - people are being killed or people are being seriously injured. There are national guidelines for the placement of cameras - there need to be at least four people killed or seriously injured in a three year period. So whether that be in town or in a rural area, we still need to deal with the problem - that's people being killed or seriously injured on our roads.


    Manisha Tank:

    So it actually is already the case that we see the cameras where there are the accident black spots?


    Theo Panayi:

    Yes. These sites are sited all round, both rural and in urban areas, where there are significant accident problems.


    Manisha Tank:

    Keith Flook: Most of the near misses I see when I am driving are not caused by speeding but by lack of proper care and attention. What percentage of accidents are actually caused purely by speeding?


    Theo Panayi:

    Speeding itself or going fast won't cause a crash, there needs to be speeding, if you count that as a violation - basically going above the speed limit or an inappropriate speed. It may even be below the speed limit itself. But from that there may be an error - either caused by the driver or by another driver, pedestrian or other person on the road and the combination of the two caused the crash. For example, some pulls out from a junction but because you're going too fast, you cannot react and of course the severity of the accident is based on how quickly you travel. The faster you go, the harder you will hit something.


    Manisha Tank:

    Michael Mather: There is currently a maximum 53 year gap between the first and second driving test for most drivers in the UK. Would it not make sense to re-test drivers more frequently?

    This brings to my mind, things like advanced driving tests which could be quite useful but also the US system where people who've committed driving offences are often sent back to traffic school.


    Theo Panayi:

    In this country we do have a very similar scheme - it's called the National Driver Improvement Scheme - where drivers who have been involved in minor road traffic accidents have the opportunity to attend a day-and-a-half's course which is a mixture of theory and practical aimed at reducing the incidence of re-offending. In other words, looking at the cause and improving their safety. Now we do have that, it's a national scheme operated by most police forces in the country offered to drivers.

    The bottom line is, if a driver has a crash, they are at risk of having another. So if we can improve their safety, it will make the general driving population safer as well.


    Manisha Tank:

    Richard Schofield There is a big re-education programme required as drivers, particularly the younger ones, seem not to remember what they were taught by their instructor. Is it the case that we can have second driving tests or not?


    Theo Panayi:

    Second driving tests would be difficult in this country on the basis of the amount of drivers in this country - there are 26 million drivers in this country - and that will be a huge job for the Driving Standards Agency to retest based on their current capacity.

    But going back to the Driver Improvement Scheme, if you can retrain the drivers or re-educate the drivers who are having crashes then you will introduce safer drivers back onto the road.


    Manisha Tank:

    Now staying with this theme, we have an anonymous e-mail: Would road safety be improved more by increasing the benefits of sitting the advanced driving test? One way to do this would be to offer reduced insurance costs.


    Theo Panayi:

    There are some insurers that will offer a reduction if you have passed an advanced driving test and I think there is a greater scope for the insurance industry to look at any kind of post-test qualification and to incorporate that because if people are getting further training they are technically reducing their risk of being involved in further accidents by improving their road safety.


    Manisha Tank:

    Let's get to the Government's plans. We've just got a text message just in from Clarky in Swindon: Surely the Government is trying to implement speed cameras simply to collect more money from fines. Would you agree with this?


    Theo Panayi:

    Any money that is taken in fines is reinvested into speed cameras and investments to do with speed including education, training and publicity - that would involve road safety units being involved in camera partnerships. But in terms of the idea of a stealth tax - the money does not go back into a central government pot, it is ring-fenced for road safety initiatives aimed at looking at speed and looking at its effect in killed or seriously injured accidents. So we need to reduce that by reinvesting in more speed enforcement.


    Manisha Tank:

    Steve Potter: The Government could spend road tax revenue to change the road layout at accident black spots. Why do they not see this as a viable option?

    Does that pool cover that sort of work?


    Theo Panayi:

    No, the pool of money doesn't cover any kind of engineering works. That will come out of other budgets, where it's for, for example, the Highways Authority or the local authority. Each local authority will have a local safety scheme programme where it looks at accident black spots and reduce those by engineering measures. But speed cameras aren't a part of that.


    Manisha Tank:

    We've got another e-mail just in - Ian Watson in Nottingham: The yellow cameras will slow most people down and remind them of the speed limit. Nottingham though has the new digital cameras that can be used as part of a network of cameras throughout a city. Will the use of these, increase in the future?

    With that it's quite interesting to note how much speed cameras actually cost.


    Theo Panayi:

    There are a second generation of speed cameras where you have digital technology coming into day-to-day life. With more improved technology, these sites can all be linked up thereby getting away from the old film scenario. But additional cameras are very expensive, both to install the sites and to maintain. Traditional cameras can cost up to 50,000 to install and you may have one camera to service a number of sites and they are moved around on rotation.


    Manisha Tank:

    Let's finish up on the fact that we that we all have responsibilities when it comes to the road whether we're riding a bicycle, driving a car or whether we're walking along the pavement. An e-mail from John Simmonds: I was once hit from behind after braking sharply to avoid pedestrians illegally crossing the road. Why isn't more done regarding pedestrians' behaviour?


    Theo Panayi:

    I think we've got to start from the point of view of when do we start becoming a poor driver and I think it goes back to the idea of how we learn road safety through our lives from being a pedestrian, to a cyclist, to a motorcyclist, to a car user, to a large goods vehicle. We need to have strong road safety education to educate pedestrians, drivers and riders on how to interact with one another on the roads which will make the roads safer. Each of them should respect each other's space - the road doesn't belong to one individual user, it belongs to all users and we need to bear in mind the safety of our vulnerable road users. With regard to speed limits, if we all drive within the limit or at the appropriate speed, we shouldn't have to worry about speed cameras at all.


    Manisha Tank:

    Very wise words for us to finish with.

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  • See also:

    19 Jun 02 | UK Politics
    26 May 02 | UK Politics
    30 Jan 02 | UK Politics
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