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Abolish Speed cameras

Comment 9th July 2010

Originally, speeding enforcement was a valuable service provided by trained Police officers, who usually tagetted stretches of road that were known to be dangerous, or residential roads where persistent anti-social driving was causing local residents distress.

With the advent of the speed camera and the subsequent "hypothecation" scheme brought in by the last Government (where local councils and Police were allowed to keep a portion of the money raised from speeding fines), speeding enforcement became a form of stealth taxation and was utterly abused.  The targets were no longer the most dangerous roads, where all but the reckless were cutting their speed anyway, but on the safest roads where the "Safety Camera Partnerships" could expect large numbers of people safely exceeding the posted speed limit by a small margin.

As peoples' driving habits adapted to the new hazard that the Government had introduced to our roads, an "Arms War" ensued, with the Partnerships using ever more surreptitious means, hiding cameras, installing deliberately confusing signage and even reducing the speed limits themselves to ridiculous levels, to maintain their income stream from otherwise perfectly law-abiding, safe drivers.

All of the evidence presented by the Partnerships for the safety benefit of wide-scale idiscriminate  Speed Camera use, with only a few exceptions, have turned out to be fraudulent; employing statistical "tricks" (such as the well known "Regression to the Mean" to overexaggerate the number of accidents supposedly prevented at Sped Camera sites.

As a result of all this flagrant abuse, speeding enforcement, particularly through the use of automated Cameras, has lost virtually all credibility with the population of the UK.

Ironically, speed cameras are now not even a profitable form of taxation, owing to the huge cost of purchasing, siting and maintaining the cameras, and collecting the fines, which, as with any unfair tax, have a huge nonpayment rate.

Speed cameras serve no useful purpose in this Country and must be abolished, except perhaps at specific sites where there is overwhelming Public demand, and even then only as a last resort after other safety measures have been considered.

Why does this matter?

The mass use of Speed cameras:
– Alienate the law-abiding motoring population, by unfairly criminalising them
– Adds an unnecessary imediment to the UK's road network, on which thousands of businesses and millions of individuals depend every day.
– Generate so many "offenders" that "shortcuts" are needed in the judicial process to overcome the administrative burden of processing so many fines.  These "shortcuts" are an affront to Civil liberty and a borderline violation of Human Rights.
– Send out the wrong message to new drivers that speed is the be-all-and-end-all of road safety, perhaps resulting in them ignoring more important factors, like good observation.
– Actually make some roads more dangerous, by acting as a distraction for drivers.
– Do not even raise a significant amount of money for the Treasury due to the high running costs
– Are already being abandoned in Countries such as the US.

There are many more reasons and many online forums where they have been discussed at length over the last thirteen years.

Widespread car use is the hallmark of a successful and prosperous Country.  It should be encouraged, not punished.

I hope this Government makes the right decision.

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