Fresh evidence of speed camera failure
Safe Speed Press information

 release date: 23rd April 2004 number: PR120

Fresh evidence of speed camera failure

News: For immediate release:

Department for Transport figures released yesterday show that vehicle speeds have increased throughout England despite mushrooming speed cameras. This is entirely contrary to the Department for Transport's
statement: "The purpose of speed cameras is to encourage drivers to change their attitude towards speeding and comply with limits at all times."

Speeding is endemic and official figures show that 59% of cars in 2002 were exceeding the 30mph speed limit at sample sites.

The DfT has been suggesting that our speeding behaviour will change due to the speed camera system, but no evidence of this change in behaviour has ever been offered. After more than ten years of speed cameras we must give up hope of ever seeing this result.

Thankfully, Safe Speed believes that "normal motorists exceeding a speed limit" is not a real road safety issue. Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign explains: "The vast majority of our drivers are reasonable and responsible. They are using safe and appropriate speeds most of the time. On average they go more than 7 years between accidents, and 70 years between injury accidents. We must help them to be even more effective at avoiding accidents, not treat them like naughty school boys."

Paul continues: "Of course there are drivers who deserve the attentions of the law - we have unregistered, unlicenced, uninsured, drugged, drunken and reckless drivers - but none of these dangerous failings can be detected by a speed camera. We must restore the levels of Traffic Police. Traffic Police can also recognise drivers who are using speed recklessly or carelessly, but cameras can only recognise speed in excess of a speed limit."

Recent official figures showed that just 12.5% of almost 61,000 accidents had excessive speed recorded as a cause or contributory factor, but figures from Avon and Somerset warn us that over two thirds of these accidents are unlikely to involve speed in excess of a speed limit.

Paul explains: "Another key failure of our road safety policy based around vehicle speeds and cameras it that road deaths simply are not going down despite substantial and ongoing improvements in vehicle safety. If cameras are not reducing deaths, nor changing attitudes to speeding then they have failed. It is as simple as that. The Government must own up to the failure, scrap all speed cameras and return urgently to the road safety policies that gave us the safest roads in the World in the first place.


The DfT report is based on driving cars in the traffic and recording their speeds. Since some of the speeds recorded are in excess of the speed limit, the DfT demonstrates utter hypocrisy. Obviously they consider that it is safe enough for their staff to "keep up with the traffic", but that the rest of us should be penalised for the same behaviour.

Paul Smith comments: "Even the DfT's reality includes breaking the speed limit, but still they insist on attempting to impose their "no speeding" fantasy on the rest of us. It isn't going to happen, and even if it did it wouldn't save lives. It can't save lives because we simply don't have enough accidents that are caused by normal responsible motorists exceeding a speed limit."


Notes for editors:

The new report:

DfT Traffic Speed on Rural Trunk Roads 2003:

DfT Safety Cameras Frequently asked questions:


Q6 Speeding is not a serious offence everybody does it at some time.

Speeding is both a serious and criminal offence. Research and experience confirm that excessive and inappropriate speed is a major contributory factor in collisions that cause death and injury. The purpose of speed cameras is to encourage drivers to change their attitude towards speeding and comply with limits at all times.

Official annual reports on vehicle speeds cannot presently be found on the DfT web site. The last six copies are gathered together here:

VSGB 2002 shows that 59% of cars at sample site were exceeding the 30mph speed limit.

More on Excessive speed as an accident causation factor (recent Safe Speed PRs with full references):

About Safe Speed:

Since setting up Safe Speed in 2001, Paul Smith, 48, an advanced motorist and road safety enthusiast, and a professional engineer of 25 years UK experience, has carried out in excess  of 4,500 hours of research into the
overall effects of speed camera policy on UK road safety. We believe that this is more work in more detail than anything carried out by any other organisation. Paul's surprising conclusion is that overall speed cameras
make our roads more dangerous. Paul has identified and reported a number of major flaws and false assumptions in the claims made for speed cameras, and the whole "speed kills"  system of road safety.     

The inescapable conclusion is that we should urgently return to the excellent road safety policies that gave us in the UK the safest roads in the World in the first place.     

Safe Speed does not campaign against speed limits or appropriate enforcement of motoring laws, but argues vigorously that automated speed enforcement is neither safe nor appropriate.     


Contact Safe Speed:

email :
telephone: 01862 832000 anytime.     
mobile: 07799 045553  note: the mobile does not work well at our office. Always try land line first.     
Location: North Scotland     

We are available for press and media interviews.

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Created 22/06/2004. Last update 22/06/2004