11 May 2004

Speed cameras are failing to have any significant effect on cutting UK road deaths, according to new Government figures. There was a 40 per cent rise in the number of tickets issued for offences caught on camera in 2002, while the number of people killed in road accidents fell by just 0.6 per cent.

Cameras issued a record 1,411,300 speeding tickets and a further 88,400 red light tickets in 2002, figures released last week reveal. Factor in the 6.4 million fixed-penalty notices issued by traffic wardens, and an incredible 43 per cent of the UK’s cars were hit by some sort of a penalty.

Home Office minister Caroline Flint claims that ‘speeding is a significant factor in accidents’, but the decline in UK road deaths over the past 50 years has slowed dramatically in the last decade, despite notable advances in crash protection and medicine.

Since 1996 there has been a 479 per cent jump in offences detected by speed cameras, while death rates have dropped by just 4.6 per cent.

‘Sending out millions of fines and penalty points does not necessarily improve road safety,’ said the RAC Foundation’s executive director Edmund King. ‘The Home Office should be boosting the numbers of traffic police.’

The growing reliance on speed cameras by the police is backed up by the new figures, which show an 18 per cent increase in speed offences last year compared to 2001, whereas careless driving offences dropped by eight per cent.

Overall, more than 30,000 drivers were disqualified for reaching 12 penalty points under the totting-up procedure in 2002, on top of the 184,000 people banned for specific offences.

The recent decline in numbers of traffic police, who are vital in catching really dangerous motorists, is shown by the 8.6 per cent drop in the number of breath tests administered. This is despite a four per cent rise in the number of positive results.

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