Speed cameras, a sinister twist?
In the early nineties, the British public faced the speed camera, introduced [we were told] to cut the 3,000 deaths on Britain’s roads. Initially the fixed penalties rolled in, showing speed cameras to appear a very efficient way of policing motorists. Ten years since the advent of robotic traffic policing, the number of actual traffic police has decreased from 8,900 to 6,500. Speed cameras however, can only catch legal speeding motorists, and cannot catch motorists who use false plates, have no insurance, steal cars, or drive under the influence of drink or drugs, who amount to 1 million, and are 9 times more likely than legal motorists to be involved in an accident.
Between 1994 and 2003 of the Safety Camera Partnership Scheme, introduced to significantly lower the number of road deaths each year, over 3,000 people were still getting killed on Britain’s roads even though motorists had significantly slowed down.
Then something strange happened. The cameras started to proliferate and were found in areas that had never had an accident, contravening guidelines that a camera be placed in a location which had had at least 4 fatal/serious accidents in the previous 3 calendar years. As the number of motorists caught for speeding dramatically rose, so did the revenue obtained from them. In 2002 5,000 cameras netted £7M in prosecutions. Yet figures from The Department of Transport show that less than 4% of accidents are caused by exceeding the speed limit. Safespeed find that in 2001 figures taken from 13 police forces show “inattention” to be the greatest cause of accidents at 25.8%.
Paradoxically, the proliferation of cameras could actually be a factor in road accidents, if you note the “inattention figures” above. No motorist wishes to obtain a speeding fine or points on their licence, so often reacts erratically near a speed camera, by slamming on the breaks, or driving too slowly, or simply focusing all attention on the speedometer and not on the road. With the alarming propagation of road signs, sheer number of cars on the roads, and advertising signs, driving on Britain’s roads is a serious assault on anyone’s senses. Helping us poor motorists, the world car industries have designed ever faster, more responsive and powerful cars as standard, coupled by TV car programmes testing these models with emphasis on speed, handling and acceleration.
Drivers are now guilty of a robotically generated crime, the introduction of which has no basis of truth, with the punishment based on what “could have been,” and not on the actual outcome.
Children should also have a responsibility of awareness in road safety. Back in the 60’s and 70’s children were taught the Green Cross Code, the safe way to cross the road, both at school and between children’s prime time TV. No such adverts seem to be between modern day programmes.
We have all slowed down, yet the number of road deaths has stayed at over 3,000 per year. Speed cameras therefore have had no effect at all, on the very thing [we were told] they were introduced to change. But were they really introduced purely as a revenue collector? Cameras will soon be widespread that are capable of logging your every mile, with calculation of mean-speeds on any given journey, times and dates, which will be linked to DVLA, government data bases, and insurance companies. A blatant erosion of our civil liberties.
“If you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about” comes to mind, but the trouble with that is, insidiously, ever more decisions are being taken away from us to a point that we may well [in law] not be allowed to think at all for ourselves. You may not have to have done anything wrong, to kick the wheels of Big Brother and the Thought Police into action against you, telling you that with a negligible probability your actions could be dangerous/fatal so you must be pre-emptively guilty and punished accordingly.
Many laws outlaw common sense, simple decision making, truth, and concept of the individual, and the repercussions of such laws are something we should be seriously concerned about.
Speeding is just one of those laws.