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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
Speed cameras 'will save lives'
Speed camera
Eight police forces are conducting trials of the scheme
Motoring organisations have welcomed the introduction of thousands of new speed cameras across the country.

The government is to extend a controversial pilot scheme which allows police forces to use speed fine revenue to pay for more cameras.

Both the government and police insist the move is designed to improve road safety, not to generate revenue.

New camera regulations
Must be visible and well signed
Sites must be shown to have the greatest casualty problems
Speed surveys must prove existing speeding problem
Must not be placed for political/money-making purposes
Four forces - Derbyshire, Lancashire, North Wales and Staffordshire - will initially join the scheme, which will later be extended across the whole country.

Under the scheme, forces will be able to keep revenue from speeding tickets, provided it is spent on new cameras or on maintaining existing ones.

The new rules will also allow the automatic speed ticket thresholds to be lowered.

At the moment drivers must travel at 41mph to get a ticket in a 30mph zone, but this could be lowered to as little as 35mph.

Both the government and the police said any new cameras would have to be properly sited, brightly coloured, easily seen and well signposted.

Local authorities would only be allowed to install new cameras at known accident blackspots.

'Running scared'

Environmental group Transport 2000 said figures from eight areas where the scheme has been trialled since April 2000 showed that safety levels had improved.

Assistant director Lynn Sloman said: "The speed camera trials have saved lives - we know that 109 people have escaped death or serious injury in the eight police trial areas as a result of cameras.

"Deaths and serious injuries at some camera sites have fallen by as much as 60%."

Impact of speed cameras
Deaths and serious injuries slashed by 47% at camera sites
Eight pilot areas saw serious injuries and deaths fall by 18% in total
Drivers speeding at camera sites fell from 55% to 16%

But she stressed that "such a successful scheme should be ready to go nationwide".

"We can only conclude that some ministers, and some local authorities and police forces, are running scared of the motoring lobby."

The new regulations were welcomed by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, which said drivers who obeyed speed limits had nothing to fear.

But the AA said driver support for speed cameras was waning, and warned police forces to be as open as possible about funding and where cameras were sited.

The chief constable of North Wales, Richard Brunstrom, defended the scheme, telling the BBC there was an "overwhelming public desire" for more cameras.

"We are getting lots and lots more letters from people wanting cameras that we do people complaining about fixed penalty tickets.

"This scheme is at the moment extremely popular because we have been able to show we are acting with integrity, we are acting very openly and most importantly we are bringing down road deaths."

Transport Minister, John Spellar, told the BBC the government was not trying to catch motorists out, but attempting to reduce the number of road accidents.

The police forces involved in the pilot scheme are Thames Valley, Essex, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Cleveland, Glasgow, South Wales and Nottinghamshire.

The Association of Chief Police Officers is said to be keen on more cameras, but the Metropolitan Police is thought to oppose the plan because it would turn motorists against the police.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Simon Montague
"The Government says the pilot scheme has been highly encouraging"
North Wales Chief Constable, Richard Brunstrom
"This scheme is not being run at a profit"
Rebecca Rees of the AA
"We do welcome these proposals"
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