Lives will be put at risk as a result of government cuts to speed cameras, Britain's top traffic police officer has warned.
Chief Con Mick Giannasi, of Gwent Police, said casualties had almost halved over an eight year period due to the use of speed cameras. This comes after the government cut £38m from this year's road safety budget.
The Department for Transport has said road safety remains a priority for councils despite speed camera cuts. The government has also ended central funding for speed cameras - a central plank of its promise to "end the war on the motorist". That would be the 'war' that has seen motoring costs relatively stable while public transport costs have increased.
Speed camera opponents hail success of Swindon switch-off - but do figures back that up?
Earlier this month, Oxfordshire became the first county to turn off speed cameras, and Wiltshire is due to follow suit in October. Meanwhile, Buckinghamshire is cutting one in five of its speed cameras, Lancashire has stated that it, too, expects to reduce the number it operates, and Essex and Dorset are reviewing funding which may lead to a reduction in cameras in operation in those two counties.
Local councilor Peter Greenhalgh, hailed “a new motoring hero” by Top Gear in 2008 for his efforts to abolish speed cameras, said: "I think our decision has been vindicated because here in Swindon we have seen a slight fall in the number of accidents. We have been able to invest the money we were spending on cameras in other physical road safety measures such as vehicle-activated warning signs.”
He continued: "I'm not going to claim that everywhere should turn off their cameras but there are a lot of cameras around the country that aren't delivering the results in road safety that everyone would want."
Katie Shephard of the road safety campaign Brake, which is against the removal of speed cameras, disagreed, saying “There is a wealth of academic research that demonstrates that speed cameras are an effective way to reduce crashes and nine months is still too short a period to assess the situation in Swindon."
Meanwhile, Julie Spence, who is soon to step down as Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Police and is the longest-serving head of any police force in the country, condemned speeding as “middle class antisocial behaviour." "People think, 'We should be able to get away with it'. They wouldn't tolerate law breaking by somebody else but they do it themselves without thinking.” "It all seems OK until something tragic happens, like a child dies because of a road traffic accident."
The Chief Constable added that while anti-social behaviour is typically thought of as vandalism or disruptive youths, “for too many it is the antics of drivers who refuse to accept that speed limit signs apply to them. Driving without care or consideration for other road users is probably among the worst kind of anti-social behaviour in its truest sense, because serious offenders can, and do, kill,” she added.
So we can expect more deaths from speeding drivers.
And less revenue collected so other taxes will go up to make up the shortfall.
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