Speed cameras are meant to reduce the number of fatal and serious collisions, but a recent study has found their presence can actually be detrimental to road safety in some cases.
The RAC looked at 551 fixed cameras in nine areas of the UK and found the number of fatal and serious collisions reduced by 27 per cent and personal injury collisions decreased by 15 per cent on average after speed cameras were put in place. However 21 camera sites actually witnessed an increase in the number of such incidents.
Although unclear what factors caused a number of speed cameras to have a detrimental effect, the RAC has written to the respective local authorities with the suggestion to investigate the cause to see if the cameras would be better off in a different location.
“Safety cameras are contentious, people dispute whether they work,” RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister told the BBC. “But in fact the general public as a whole like them because they want these roads to be made safer.
“If cameras were turned off overnight there would be something like 80 people killed extra a year and 800 people killed or seriously injured,” he added, citing a previous RAC report.”So the evidence is very good that on average they do work, they are effective.”
The areas looked at by the RAC were Cambridge and Peterborough, Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, Staffs and Stone-on-Trent, Sussex, Thames Valley and Warwickshire.
Merseyside was found to be home to a total of nine ‘risky cameras worthy of investigation’. Of the nine sites of concern, all were in urban areas with speed limits of 30mph to 40mph. The Merseyside Road Safety Camera Partnership has defended its cameras, stating: “There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that any of these sites have caused a collision and in fact these figures if anything suggest the opposite.”
As of April 2012, the UK was home to more than 6,000 speed cameras although that figure has likely dropped as councils have been switching them off to make cutbacks in spending. The RAC results represent less than ten per cent of the UK, suggesting the problem of risky cameras could be more widespread.
In 2011, 203,950 vehicular casualties were recorded, 1,901 of which resulted in a fatality.