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Report suggests speed cameras reduce injuries

A new study, commissioned by the RAC Foundation, suggests that speed cameras cut the number of serious injuries in road accidents in the areas where they are placed by an average of more than a quarter. Analysis of data for 551 fixed speed cameras in nine areas shows that on average the number of fatal and serious collisions in their vicinity fell by 27% after their installation. There was also an average reduction of 15% in personal injury collisions in the vicinity of the cameras. However, the research also highlights 21 camera sites at which, or near which, the number of collisions appears to have risen enough to make the cameras worthy of investigation, in case they have contributed to the increases.

The data was released in 2011 as part of a government move to make speed camera operations more transparent to the public. The analysis formed part of the work carried out by Professor Richard Allsop of University College London, in order to provide advice on interpreting speed camera data. The estimates for collision reduction were made allowing for the more general downward trend in the number of collisions in the nine areas in recent years, and for the effect of regression to the mean at sites where collision numbers were unusually high in the period before the cameras were installed. The study comes in the wake of the 2011 instruction from the UK Government that speed camera data going back to 1990, detailing accident statistics before and after fixed speed cameras were installed, be made publically available. Since 2011, only 12 out of 36 of the organizations responsible for the figures, which comprise a mixture of councils, police forces and safer roads partnerships, have published the information in a format that complies with official Department for Transport (DfT) guidance.

RAC Foundation director, Stephen Glaister, commented, “Safety cameras are contentious; people dispute whether they work. 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. So the evidence is very good that on average they do work; they are effective.”

June 7, 2013

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