Independent research shows average speed cameras significantly reduce casualties

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The RAC Foundation, supported by Road Safety Analysis, has published results from a detailed study into the effectiveness of average-speed cameras on UK roads, looking at 25 years of data covering 50 sites, with the research showing significant casualty reductions for the technology.

Named after the original manufacturer, Speed Check Services, SPECS cameras have been operated around the UK for more than 15 years, with the very first sites installed in Nottingham in 2000. Since then, a further 75 permanent sites have been in operation, monitoring every speed limit from 20mph (32km/h) to 70mph (112km/h). Speed Check Services was acquired in 2010 by Vysionics, which was bought by Jenoptik Traffic Solutions in November 2014. The company, which has supplied the cameras installed at 98% of the sites studied by this research, has long understood that these systems have a significant impact on casualties and traffic flows, while also being more widely accepted by the public.

To determine how effective SPECS cameras have been, a simple comparison of the three -year baseline and three-year post installation carried out by Jenoptik shows that typically, a 70% drop in the killed or seriously injured (KSI) is seen along SPECS routes that were installed as a casualty reduction measure. However, this figure had not been independently verified and did not take into account factors such as national trend reductions or regression to mean (RTM) as a result of the site selection period (SSP).

The RAC Foundation research has for the first time carried out a detailed study of a large number of average-speed enforcement sites, covering a wide variety of road types and speed limits. Importantly, to address challenges around factors such as RTM, the research accounted for the SSP, thus removing any chance that unusually high casualties in the pre-installation period were compared with the post installation data. The new research also removes the impact of the national trend reduction. As a result, their final published figures demonstrate the effectiveness or impact of the average-speed cameras, removing the argument that any reduction was down to RTM or national trend.

Once the site selection period and national trend reduction have been removed from all casualty data, the average-speed enforcement sites still show a 36.4% reduction in the number of fatal and serious collisions, which represents a hugely significant and effective intervention. All injury collisions decreased by 16%. The research also showed that this level of reduction was not only seen at sites identified as casualty reduction schemes, but also routes where casualty reduction was not identified as the primary objective, such as congestion management or bridge protection projects.

“The statistical results clearly show good collision and associated casualty reductions on stretches of road where average speed cameras are used,” noted Richard Owen of Road Safety Analysis. “The reducing cost of average-speed cameras and their ability to cover longer stretches of road make them a very cost-effective solution that delivers proven results over a long period of time.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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