I’m always completely baffled when I hear of motoring groups being ‘outraged’ at the amount of money that is generated by speed cameras, such as in this article that appeared in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago. In my mind it’s pretty simple – if you’re going too fast, you’re breaking the law. How can it be any simpler than that? How can you even think about protesting a fine unless you know you weren’t speeding? Yes, we all speed a little – we’ve all gone a bit faster than we should do as we haven’t perhaps checked the speedo in a while, but wasn’t this covered when we were having driving lessons? I thought that the skill of driving involved being aware of what’s ahead of you, what’s behind you (yes, can you believe it – you have to look behind you for a bit!), who is indicating that they are intending to make a turn, what the conditions are and what speed you’re doing.
The paragraph that really made me mad was this:
‘Paul Smith, the founder of anti-speed camera group Safe Speed, said the haul was the latest example of “innocent” drivers being targeted. “I’m so angry to hear about this camera raking in so much money for the government, when scientific evidence shows us that fixed cameras like this one can increase accidents by up to 55%”.’
Scientific evidence, indeed. I had a look at the Safe Speed website and found it to be something of a joke. I mean, come on – “Road safety is complex, subtle and sensitive like a precision built clock” whereas “A speed camera is a blunt and heavy instrument, like a hammer”. In what way? They don’t really say. The strapline is fantastic – “You can’t measure safe driving in miles per hour.” Well, I have to disagree there and so do the research statistics – according to the Government THINK! Road Safety website. for the time period 2000 to 2004, excessive speed was a contributory factor in about 13 per cent of all injury collisions, 19 per cent of serious injury collisions and 29 per cent of fatal collisions.
George Monbiot gives an excellent opinion of this group on his blog – ‘Paul Smith and Safe Speed – the Self-Exposure of a Crank‘ which pretty much sums it all up for me.