Safety cameras ‘flawed’

speedbj'Speed Camera on Sheffield Parkway
speedbj'Speed Camera on Sheffield Parkway
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Campaigners today branded South Yorkshire’s network of cameras ‘flawed’ and ‘unnecessary’ after The Star revealed how much money they are making.

Claire Armstrong, spokesperson for the national Safe Speed campaign group, said: “Since only five per cent of accidents nationally have excessive speed as a contributory factor, including those accidents which are ‘too fast for conditions’ but below the speed limit, we can see how utterly over-the-top and unnecessary speed cameras are.

“We need proper engineering to resolve the accidents’ cause, not merely cameras to treat a symptom.”

South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership, which is responsible for running and maintaining the speed cameras, also revealed it has spent £5,080,153 on maintenance and upkeep of the cameras, placing new ones and any other expenditure relating to them in the last three financial years.

Just three months ago, it was revealed serious accidents and deaths at the SYSCP’s 56 camera sites were reduced at 27 of the locations with the number of accidents actually going up at 24.

One site which has seen accidents increase is the county’s ninth top earning site - the A625 Ecclesall Road South near Ringinglow Road which snapped 2,421 drivers and made £39,480 through fines.

There was only one accident in the eight years before the camera was installed - but six serious collisions in the 13 years afterwards.

But Chief Superintendent Keith Lumley, chairman of South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said: “It is accepted that safety cameras are a valuable contribution to the continuing fall in those killed and seriously injured on the roads of South Yorkshire and the UK.

“Our data shows that over the last three year period, there has been a reduction of 40 collisions across all fixed camera sites preventing those serious collisions that cause death and life changing injuries to those involved.” 

But Ms Armstrong argued: “Speed camera placement criteria results with the cameras being located in specially selected locations where the casualty rate is expected to fall substantially, even if no treatment is applied.

“This is a well understood phenomenon called regression to the mean, which shows that cameras are portrayed to be a strong benefit when in reality there is no proof of any benefit.

“The economic recession has also made a significant difference to the amount of traffic on the road. During every previous recession we know that the accident rate drops, which is why we have seen the fall in accidents over the last few years. There has been a six per cent fall in total traffic volume so there is therefore less exposure to danger. “Councils need to act competently when they analyse data, and then spend funds effectively on the right road safety policies. Speed cameras must be removed from our roads, they are a flawed road safety policy.”

Simon Geller, from local bike group, Cycle Sheffield, warned against turning off cameras. He said: “They have an overall calming effect on the county’s roads, not just where they are installed.

“There is a simple way to beat the speed cameras - drive at or below the speed limit.”