Friday, September 29, 2006

Well I never...

I can think of one or two people who won't like this (pdf) at all....
It is not speed that kills, it is inappropriate speed. Even then, speed is not even a contributory factor in three quarters of fatal accidents.
Cameras will not dissuade drivers from failing to look properly (17%) and - my own special bugbear - neither will they protect those cyclists whose deaths are caused by drivers passing too close.
The siting of a camera will probably be both a distraction for the authorities (who should be fixing the road) and for drivers (who should be paying attention to road conditions, not their speedometer) in the 12% of fatal accidents where the "Road environment" was a contributory factor.
Cameras will not detect vehicle defects (3%)
Cameras will do nothing to improve driver behaviour to reduce the massive 64% caused "driver error or reaction".
Cameras will not reduce the 19% of fatal accidents where "Driver distraction" was a contributory factor. Indeed 1% of that is due to "Distraction outside vehicle". Hmmmm.....
Cameras will do nothing to correct driver "behaviour or inexperience" (29%) either.
In short, plastering the entire country in speed cameras will do precisely nothing to prevent 88% of accidents that result in a fatality. In fact, if we did, I would be prepared to bet that we would see a rise in the number of fatalities resulting from "Aggressive driving" (currently a factor in 8% of accidents resulting in a fatality) and those due to drivers being "nervous, uncertain or panicked" (1%). Whilst we are about it, "sudden braking" anyone?
Speed does not kill. It undoubtedly increases the chances that poor drivers who are involved in an accident will do so, but it is the poor driving that is the problem. Let us not kid ourselves otherwise.


J P Wilton said...

Brunstrom is an appalling creature. He encapsulates all that is wrong in New Labour's police, concentrating on keeping Brunstrom in the public eye while convictions for criminal offences on his patch drop from less than 50% to less than 7%.

One of my hobby horses has long been to note, when I am told that 35% of deaths on the road are caused by drink-driving, that it follows that 65% are caused by people who are stone cold sober and presumably in possession of their faculties. Shouldn't we be addressing their problems, whatever they are?

James Higham said...

One can't argue with facts, P-G and so it's largely irrelevant that one or two people won't like what you've posted. It is indeed as you stated.

dearieme said...

1) There is one piece of illogic in all this that worries me. We all see idiots driving too close to the car in front: but it's only too close GIVEN the speed involved. It would be perfectly safe at 5 mph. That means that you can classify a resulting collision as being cause by speed if you want, or by lack of clearance if you want. It's pretty arbitrary.
2) Which leads to the suggestion from me that speed cameras should be used mainly to check on tailgating, recording both the speed and separation involved. If the current ones can't do it, replace them.

J P Wilton said...

A better notion would be to replace every speed camera with a policeman.

James Higham said...

...speed cameras should be used mainly to check on tailgating...

Yes - good idea. But how?

dearieme said...

Probably by linking them to an RPG launcher which will take out the second vehicle.

Anonymous said...

"In short, plastering the entire country in speed cameras will do precisely nothing to prevent 88% of accidents that result in a fatality."

I agree. As this post implies, I think we can all live without the remaining 12% of victims if it means not having the inconvenience or mortal panic of having to slow down for a camera, don't you?

The number of lives saved by having cameras probably doesn't even hit a couple of hundred. And if a few hundred more deaths on the road is the price for not having cameras, I think we all agree that it's a price well worth paying.

The Pedant-General said...


"As this post implies, "
In two crisp words: FUCK OFF.

In a few more slightly less crisp words:
That you have not the courage to go and get yourself a blogger ID or even to sign your comment yourself is notable but ultimately of little consequence.

Failure to engage with the substantive point in my post - that the focus on automatic penalties for minor speed infractions is a serious distraction from the job of keeping our roads safe - is inexcusable.

Look: this is simple stuff: driving past my house at 29mph in a clapped out car with 1.7mm tread on your tyres when there is freezing fog is monumentally stupid and insanely dangerous yet it is legal.

Driving up the M6 at Shap on a clear early summer morning at, say 7am, at 85mph in a modern, well-maintained - ABS disk brakes all round etc etc - Golf GTi when there is not a car or house in sight for several miles around you is PERFECTLY safe yet it will get you nicked.

These are extreme examples, but they are illustrative: if a camera cannot distinguish correctly between these supremely obvious cases, then they really are useless. Yet you choose willfully to ignore this. You are either a moron - in which case you deserve our pity - or you are being deliberately obtuse in which case you can FUCK OFF.

The 70mph limit was set in the 60s when precious few cars could achieve - let alone sustain for long periods - such a speed. If we applied the thinking used to set the limit in the 60s, the motorway speed limit would now be ~100mph.

It was set at a time when almost no cars used disk brakes and 20 years - count them: TWENTY YEARS - before ABS became common place.

Whilst thinking/reaction times will not have changed much, if at all, in the intervening period, braking distances have been slashed. The highway code figures bear no relation whatsoever to those achievable by modern cars.

It is not - I would say it almost never - speed that kills. It is INAPPROPRIATE speed that is the problem.

Akaky said...

The speed limit in the UK is 70 on the highways? It's still 55 on the interstates here, although there's places where you can do 65. And PG, speed does not kill; even inappropriate speed does not kill. It's running into stuff that'll do you in every time.