Thursday 23 October 2008

Let's worry about saving lives rather than speed cameras

Rants against speed cameras and parking fines seem to be all the rage in papers such as the Daily Mail and for car-obsessed Jeremy Clarkson. As if the worst thing in life that could possibly happen is that you should get caught for speeding, or that it is somehow an infringement of your civil liberties to get a ticket for parking somewhere illegally, when you might be making everyone else's life miserable.

Ironic then that Top Gear's Richard Hammond reckoned this morning that it wasn't speed cameras that were causing accidents it was selfishness and bad driving. But the point, Richard, is that bad driving is accentuated by speed and speed makes a difference to the severity of the accident. And it is actually selfish to speed through a town just because you might be in a hurry.

There's a very British school of thought that feels that breaking motoring law is alright really, while breaking other laws would not be. And the whole thing is rolled up in a coating of macho-ism that accuses anyone on the other side of the argument of just being a big woolly liberal do-gooder - as if these were bad things to be.

Now Tory-controlled Swindon council is taking down its speed cameras because they don't think they are stopping enough people's lives from being saved on the roads.

But the Department of Transport and the Advanced Institute of Motorists says there is evidence that road safety is greatest at fixed camera sites. The AIM says the move to withdraw cameras is foolhardy.

Swindon council wants there to be more police out on the roads, but surely the best answer is to have a combination of both. No one is saying you can't have police on the roads and speed cameras, are they?

This is emotional policy making at its worst, pandering to the worst kind of public opinion, rather than worrying about saving people's lives.

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