Publication of Report
"Speed cameras save lives"
Speed cameras save lives. This was the conclusion of the House of Commons Transport Committee's report, published today.
The Committee called for greater use of technology to tackle driving offences, saying that speed cameras are proven to save lives by acting as an effective deterrent to drivers breaking the speed limit.
In its report,
Roads Policing and Technology: Getting the right balance the Committee points to evidence which shows that 42% fewer people were killed or seriously injured in crashes at sites which had fixed speed cameras. The Committee wants to see more funding made available so that more sites which meet the existing camera guidelines can also be covered.
The report says it is "a disgrace" that the existing Department for Transport guidelines require preventable deaths and injuries to have occurred in a location before cameras can be installed. The Government is urged to improve the impact of speed cameras by using more advanced technology, such as time-distance (average speed) cameras, and better publicity campaigns.
The Committee called on the Government to ensure that new enforcement technologies move swiftly through the type-approval process, so that suitable devices can be made available to police forces at the earliest opportunity. The Committee criticised the Government for failing to fund the type-approval of evidential roadside breath testers.
However, the Committee says the efficiencies which technology can bring must not be taken as an opportunity to cut the number of roads police officers. Instead the Home Office should increase the priority it gives to traffic law enforcement overall.
Chairman of the Transport Committee Gwyneth Dunwoody said: "Compared to other aspects of daily life, travelling on the roads continues to be an extremely high risk activity. In 2005 there were 32,155 deaths and serious injuries. In London, the number of "hit and run" incidents has doubled over the last decade.
"We deplore the long-term marginalisation of roads police officers. Their efforts can be facilitated through the introduction of new technologiesbut officers must not be replaced by such inventions. Technology must support roads police officers, not replace them.
"The relationship between speed and collisions is so well proven that the casualty criteria requirement is unnecessary and even irresponsible. Evidence of excessive speed is evidence of danger and there is no need to wait for somebody to die in order to take action intended to slow vehicles. It is clear that cameras are effective, good value for money, and well accepted by the public."
The report also looks at the need to cut drink-driving and drug-driving. More than one in six people killed in road crashes are the victim of drivers over the permitted alcohol limit. The number of drink-drive casualties has increased in recent years as the number of road policing officers has fallen.
Commenting, the Chairman of the Transport Committee Gwyneth Dunwoody said: "Drink-driving offenders continue to kill 560 people each year. Police enforcement has a crucial role to play. As the number of breath tests carried out dropped, so the number of drink-drive casualties increased. There must be systematic enforcement of drink-driving and drug-driving laws. This does not need to be complex: it is simply a case of doing more of the same."
Technology cannot yet detect all types of traffic offence. Drivers holding a mobile telephone conversation are four times more likely to be involved in a crash, but technology does not yet detect this offence. The Committee called for more high-profile police operations to support the new legislation banning the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving.
Commenting on the need for a balance to be struck between technological enforcement and police officer activity, the Chairman Gwyneth Dunwoody said: "We are impressed by the efficiency of technologies such as Automatic Number-Plate Recognition for example, but this equipment must not be allowed to sideline other important road casualty reduction activities of the police, such as detecting careless and dangerous driving."
Notes to editors
The Transport Committee's 10th Report of the 2005-06 Session, Roads Policing and Technology: Getting the right balance (HC 975), will be published on Tuesday 31 October at 11.15 am.
Media representatives who would like to receive a PDF copy of the report should contact Select Committee Media Officer Laura Kibby on 020 7219 0718 or 07917 488 557.
Members of the Committee: Gwyneth Dunwoody (Chairman) (Crewe and Nantwich), David Clelland (Tyne Bridge), Jeffrey M Donaldson (Lagan Valley), Clive Efford (Eltham), Louise Ellman (Liverpool Riverside), Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby), John Leech (Manchester Withington), Eric Martlew (Carlisle), Lee Scott (Ilford North), Graham Stringer (Manchester Blackley), David Wilshire (Spelthorne).
Press Notice 72/2005-06 31 October 2006