AA Comment

Swindon's decision to cut speed camera funding

15 July 2008

Almost three quarters of AA members believe that roads would be safer if money was spent improving accident black spots rather than more speed cameras, according to the latest survey of driver opinion from the UK's biggest dedicated motoring panel.

a speed camera These findings from the AA/Populus panel of almost 17,500 AA members show that 72% thought that road and junction improvements would make the UK's roads safer. However, only a quarter (25%) thought more traffic police would make a difference, with just 4% saying more speed cameras would do trick.

These results highlight the dilemma over cameras as the debate rages due to Swindon's decision to cut camera funding. The AA believes there are good arguments both for and against speed cameras.

Edmund King, AA president said: "Cameras are just one weapon to use in the road safety fight. Our problem with them is that quite often they are seen as the first and last resort.

"Sometimes, a simple junction improvement would be far more effective than the placing of a speed camera, which leaves the dangerous junction still in place."

"I think cameras have a role to play on certain roads, but a survey of motorists recently asked them to list, in importance, three things - speed cameras, tackling accident blackspots and having more traffic police. Speed cameras came third.

"We certainly acknowledge that cameras have slowed motorists down and road safety has benefited. The cameras have sent out a message that it's not OK to speed.

"But cameras are over-deployed. Some are in the wrong places. There has been one on a slip road to a motorway on which motorists have to speed up to join much-faster moving vehicles on the motorway. Thousands of drivers have been caught there.

"On the other hand, the cameras in position on the current roadworks section of the M1 through Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire have reduced accidents to almost nil."

"More traffic police would help. Cameras can show no discretion. They cannot be flexible. Sometimes a word from a police officer about your driving can have a huge impact and can show you the errors of your ways."

Young drivers (18-24 years) and females in particular felt that fixing unsafe roads was the best option to make roads safe (82% and 77% respectively).

Of the quarter which supported the safety benefits of having more traffic police, men were more in favour of this than women - 28% against 19%. However, this time, younger drivers were not so keen with only 16% in favour of more traffic police compared to 29% in the over 65 years age group.

Geographically, respondents in the North-East and Scotland were likely to favour improving road danger spots, 76% and 75% respectively. Those living in London were least likely to want road improvements (70%) and most likely to want more traffic police (27%). Those in Northern Ireland were most likely to want more speed cameras (7%) whilst those in the North-East were least supportive (2%).

Commenting on these findings AA President Edmund King said "Making UK roads safer requires a broad approach with safe cars, safe drivers and safe roads. Keeping these measures in balance is the key. Drivers are now telling us that it is time to target the dangerous roads and junctions that we all know exist.

"The motorist is paying record amounts in motoring taxation so more of this should be spent on life saving road improvements. The poll also shows that six times as many people want more traffic police rather than more speed cameras."

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15 July 2008