Thursday, September 20, 2007

Multiple studies show road safety cameras save lives!! (Though camera opponents will believe only what they want, whatever the facts)

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Bob Bull thinks the evidence does not show that speed/safety cameras save lives and serious injuries. His letter says the figures I gave have been proved wrong (‘Speed Cameras’, Bristol Evening Post Soapbox, 20 Sept). I have to tell him that the evidence in favour of speed/safety cameras, from multiple studies, is overwhelming. I fear that he and possibly others will only believe what they want to believe, no matter what the facts are. An independent review by University College London, published 2005 of more than 4,000 cameras over a four year period, featured on the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents website, clearly demonstrates that cameras reduce speeding and collisions a great deal. Deaths and serious injuries at camera sites were cut by 42%.

The review concluded: vehicles breaking the speed limit at fixed camera sites fell by 70%; the reduction at mobile sites was by 18%; speeding at 15 mph or more above the limit fell by 91% at fixed sites and by 36% at mobile sites; average vehicle speed across all new sites fell by 6%; people killed or seriously injured fell by 42% at camera sites, meaning there were 1,745 fewer people killed or seriously injured at the camera sites per year – including 100 fewer deaths; 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; a 22% reduction in collisions involving (fatal, serious or slight) personal injury at camera sites, equating to 4,230 fewer personal injury collisions per year.

The impact of the first British speed cameras, installed in West London in 1992, was assessed by the West London Speed Camera Demonstration Project in 1997. In the first three years of operation, cameras: cut deaths by 70% ; cut serious injuries by 27% ; cut slight injuries by 8%.

A 1995 study by the Police Research Group concluded that speed cameras reduced casualties by 28%.

Initial evaluation of the pilot schemes by the DfT in 2003 found that the: drivers exceeding the speed limit fell from 47% to 20%.; 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 (numbering 285) were killed and 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.

A three year review of cameras in 24 areas (“The National Safety Camera Programme: Three-year Evaluation Report” by University College, published 2004 ) found they significantly reduced speeding and collisions, and had cut deaths and serious injuries at camera sites by 40%.

Looks like Bob Bull and company are in a small minority of 18% or less since 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’.

Public attitude surveys clearly show that people support safety cameras because they save lives. In a 2005 parliamentary statement the Secretary of State for Transport said that 71% of people surveyed agreed that the primary use of cameras was to save lives. Surveys conducted in the 8 pilot areas had previously found that: 70% agreed that “fewer accidents are likely to happen on roads where cameras are installed”; 67% agreed that "Cameras mean that dangerous drivers are now more likely to get caught"; 82% agreed that "Cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to the limits, not punish them"

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents site has more.

Lib Dem middle of the road mediocrity

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Yet another mediocre, middle of the road, Liberal Democrat Party conference making a big thing out of their environmental policies. They say the environment is at the ‘heart of everything’ they do, even though the party is, as the name suggests, built on liberal and social democratic ideas not ecological ones. Apparently they are the ‘only party’ with radical policies to tackle climate change - but their policies are inconsistent, incoherent and contradictory, merely tinkering around the edges of society instead of going to the root of problems.

Their stated aim of a zero carbon society is indeed one we must attain if we are to avert the worst impacts of climate change. However, Lib Dems don’t propose to make changes on the scale or of the consistency needed to achieve this aim – the numbers just don’t add up. Where are all the many and varied changes needed in the ways we do business, live our lives and measure progress?

As long as Lib Dems (and other parties for that matter) remain committed to ongoing economic growth on a finite planet at all costs, and ever-freer global trade, we cant begin to truly build a sustainable (and zero carbon) society, whatever their leaders have said this week.

Policies to address climate change require a different economic world-view. This is to be welcomed not avoided, as Lib Dems and others avoid it. The kind of materialism that is now driven by modern consumer capitalism is leaving people with lower wellbeing well as destroying our ecology. A sustainable, zero-carbon society will be a healthier, happier, society, with warmer homes, better public transport, stronger local communities, more green jobs - and more free time – and is to be strongly advocated and planned for. Policies needed to live good lives are the same policies needed to tackle climate change and achieve a zero-carbon society.

Lib Dem conference site for info. Examples of poor Lib Dem policies in local govt from Green Party conference site.