Saturday, September 30

''Speeding'' not a major killer - it's official

With the publication on Wednesday of the Department for Transport's (DfT) road safety statistics for last year, there has been much focus on the revelation that – contrary to all previous official assertions – "speeding" is not a major killer on our roads.
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Up to press, the official line has always been that excessive speed is a contributory factor in a third of all accidents but, what transpires from the latest set of figures (summary here) is that "speeding" – defined as exceeding the speed limit – is a factor in only five percent of accidents (1 in 20).
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Why the authorities should be so obsessive about speeding, therefore, has always been something of a mystery, except that it has the advantage of something that can easily be measured, relatively easy to enforce and indeed raise money on.
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Another important factor – of which most people are entirely unaware – is the European Union. On 12 September 2001, when the EU commission defined the road safety targets to be reached by 2010 in its Transport White Paper, it too singled out “speed” as the major issue and, in its list of priorities called for tighter enforcement of speeding laws.If not actually the cause of the speed camera blitz, therefore, the EU has been there fully supporting the mindless officials and the government fundraisers who have been quite deliberately distorting the presentation of the data and confusing the issues.
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Even yesterday, in the official DfT press releases, the urban myth was being maintained:
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''Exceeding the speed limit or going too fast for conditions were reported as a contributory factor in 15 per cent of all accidents. However, the factor became more significant with the severity of the accident; it was reported as contributory factor in 26 per cent of fatal accidents and these accidents accounted for 28 per cent of all fatalities (793 deaths).''
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That is how they do it, eliding "too fast for conditions" – a variable which is independent of the speed limit – with exceeding the speed limit. But, whereas the latter is amenable to speed enforcement, the former is not.
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Paul Smith of the organisation Safespeed details the issue..
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Mr Smith argues that the obsession with speed limit enforcement, increasingly through the use of speed cameras, is counter-productive. Such is the malign effect that the rate of decline in the death rate due to road accidents has tailed off.
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When it comes to serious injuries, data from the British Medical Journal suggests that there has been no fall at all, year on year.
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Pro speed camera advocates – not least those who benefit financially from them – still insist, however, that their loathsome tools should be called "safety" rather than "speed" cameras, but the evidence it now pointing to another possible appellation – like "death cameras".
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Ironically, the very measures which the EU supports and encourages are preventing the UK from reaching the targets that the EU itself has set.
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It really is interesting, though, to see quite how many people believe burning is the most appropriate answer to the problem of counter-productive so called 'safety' cameras - click here and here.

1 comment:

lady from middlesex said...

very good article peter but l think there something far more important you have forgotten to mention thats it's your BIRTHDAY so from me l wish u a happy birthday and many many more X