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Legal guide to UK motoring, sections for law enforcement, Driver licensing, learner and new drivers, buying and selling, speeding fines, owning a vehicle, wheel clamping, traffic information.
          Speed and Road Accidents


Speed Cameras and Road Accidents

Driving too fast for the conditions causes, or contributes to, one third of road crashes. Drivers travelling at higher speeds have less time to identify and react to what is happening around them. It takes longer for the vehicle to stop. And the crash will be more severe, causing greater injury to the occupants and any pedestrian or rider hit by the vehicle.

Approximately two-thirds of all crashes in which people are killed or injured happen on roads with a speed limit of 30 mph or less. At 35 mph a driver is twice as likely to kill someone as they are at 30 mph.
Hit by a car at 40 mph, 9 out of 10 pedestrians will be killed
Hit by a car at 30 mph, about half of pedestrians will live.
Hit by a car at 20 mph, only 1 out of 10 pedestrian will be killed.
At 30 mph, vehicles travel 44 feet (about 3 car lengths) every second. Even in good conditions, the difference in stopping distance between 30 mph and 35 mph is an extra 21 feet, more than 2 car lengths.

Unfortunately, most drivers exceed the speed limit at some time. Over half (58%) of car drivers exceed the 30 mph limit in urban areas and on 40mph roads, 27% speed.

Reducing the average running speed of vehicles by just 1 mph would reduce the number of accidents by 5%.
Speed Cameras

The Road Traffic Act 1991 enables Courts to accept evidence of speeding from type-approved cameras accompanied only by a certificate signed on behalf of the relevant police force.

Fixed speed cameras are located at selected roadside sites in camera housings (typically a yellow box on a grey pole). Usually, there are white markings on the road to help calculate vehicles? speed and give extra warning to drivers of the camera’?s presence. Signs are erected in the area to warn motorists that speed cameras are present and discourage them from breaking the speed limit.

Mobile speed cameras can be moved from site to site according to local accident data. Detectors identify whether a car is speeding and two pictures are taken as evidence. The camera film is removed and processed at regular intervals, and a computer automatically generates fixed penalty notices which are sent to the vehicle?s registered owner.

Newer, digital speed cameras involve pairs (or networks) of cameras set at long distances apart. As vehicles pass between the cameras their average speed is calculated. If a vehicle is travelling faster than a pre-set threshold, its details and a colour image are digitally recorded. Digital cameras can send this information directly to a computer which generates the penalty notices. These average speed cameras are commonly used on motorways.

Using Income from Speeding Fines to Fund Speed Cameras

Revenue from court fines and fixed penalties normally goes to the Consolidated Fund of the Exchequer. However, in April 2000, a pilot trial of a new system to enable fines from speed and red light cameras to pay for the costs of camera enforcement activities (known as 'Netting Off') began in eight areas: Cleveland, Essex, Lincolnshire, Nottingham, Northamptonshire, South Wales, Strathclyde and Thames Valley.

The results were so positive after one year, that the government decided to extend the scheme and introduced the necessary legislation in Section 38 of the Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001.

In December 2005, the Department for Transport announced4 that they will change the funding arrangements from 2007/08. The Netting-off arrangements will end and be replaced by a new central fund for road safety of £110 million a year.

The income raised from speeding fines is not just spent on enforcement activities. The Department for Transport has published guidelines on how the revenue can be spent effectively to help improve road safety in the local area.

Safety Camera Partnerships do this by working closely with the local the media, and other organisations, to highlight the dangers of speeding and increase awareness and acceptance of the safety camera program.

The Effectiveness of Speed Cameras

Cameras are a very effective way of persuading drivers not to speed, and thereby reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured.

The latest independent review5 of more than 4,000 cameras over a four year period shows conclusively that cameras significantly reduce speeding and collisions, and cut deaths and serious injuries at camera sites by 42%.

The review found:
• Cameras Cut Speeds

• The number of vehicles breaking the speed limit at fixed camera sites fell by 70%, The reduction at mobile sites was by 18%.

• Excessive speeding (15 mph or more above the limit) fell bby 91% at fixed sites and by 36% at mobile sites.

• Average vehicle speed across all new sites fell by 6% overall.
Cameras Save Lives

• The number of people killed or seriously injured fell by 42% at camera sites . This means there were 1,745 fewer people killed or seriously injured at the camera sitesper year ? including 100 fewer deaths.

• The number of people killed and seriously injured fell by 50% at fixed sites and by 35% at mobile sites.

• There was a 32% reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured at camera sites.

• The number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured fell by 29% at camera sites.

• Cameras Prevent Crashes

• A 22% reduction in collisions involving (fatal, serious or slight) personal injury at camera sites. This equated to 4,230 fewer personal injury collisions per year.
Previous Research

The first speed cameras in Great Britain were installed in West London in 1992. In the first three years of operation at the camera sites they:

Reduced the number of people killed by 70%
Reduced the number of people seriously injured by 27%
Reduced the number of people slightly injured by 8%.
A 1996 study7 found that speed cameras reduced casualties by about 28%.
Initial Evaluation of the Netting Off Pilot Schemes8
• An evaluation of the 8 pilot areas of the "Netting-off" scheme over the first two years of their operation found that, on average, the:

• Percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit fell from 47% to 20%.

• Percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 15mph fell from 7.4% to 0.3%.

• Average speeds at the camera sites fell by 10% (3.7mph).
35% fewer people were killed and seriously injured (this meant that about 280 fewer people were killed or seriously injured).

• There was a 56% reduction in the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured at camera sites.

• There were 14% (about 510) fewer crashes.
Three Year Review
This Review of cameras in 24 areas over a three year period found they significantly reduced speeding and collisions, and had cut deaths and serious injuries at camera sites by 40%.

The Public’s View of Speed Cameras

The Safety Camera Partnerships commission surveys in their areas to assess the public’s views about cameras.

The level of public support for the use of cameras has been consistently high with 82% of people questioned agreeing with the statement that "the use of safety cameras should be supported as a method of reducing casualties".

From the public attitude surveys there is strong evidence that there is overall
positive support for the use of cameras and this stemmed from the belief that the cameras were in place to save lives ? 71% of people surveyed agreed that the primary use of cameras was to save lives.

Surveys conducted in the pilot areas had previously found that:
• 70% of people agreed that "fewer accidents are likely to happen on roads where cameras are installed".
• 67% of people agreed that "Cameras mean that dangerous drivers are now more likely to get caught"
• 40% of people agreed that "Cameras are an easy way of making money out of motorists"
• 82% of people agreed that "Cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to the limits, not punish them"
• Some people are concerned that using fine income to pay for the costs of the cameras is intended to generate income, rather than reduce accidents.
Ultimately, cameras only catch drivers and riders who exceed the legal speed limit and so endanger their own and other?s lives.


1 "New Directions in Speed Management: A Review of Policy", DETR, 2000
2 "Road Casualties Great Britain, 2004: The Casualty Report", DfT, 2004
3 "Vehicle Speeds in Great Britain: 2003", DfT, 2004
4 "Safety Camera Announcement" - Written Statement, Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, December 2005
5 "The National Safety Camera Programme: Four-year Evaluation Report" by University College London & PA Consulting. Published by Department for Transport, December 2005
6 "West London Speed Camera Demonstration Project", Highways Agency, 1997
7 "Cost Benefit Analysis of Traffic Light and Speed Cameras", Police Research Group, 1995
8 "A Cost Recovery System for Speed and Red Light Cameras, Two Year Pilot Evaluation", DfT, 2003
9 "The National Safety Camera Programme: Three-year Evaluation Report" by University College London & PA Consulting. Published by Department for Transport, June 2004

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