PR135: Tory proposals a small step in the right direction
Safe Speed Press information

 release date: 3rd August 2004 number: PR135

Tory proposals a small step in the right direction

News: Embargo 6am Tuesday 3rd August 2004

New Tory pledges for better management of speed cameras are just a small step in the right direction, says Safe Speed.

Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign said: "It's great to see the Tories moving in the right direction for road safety, but it is disappointing that they are still not digging down to the fundamental principles. In the last decade UK road safety has been dominated by dogma, and it will clearly take plenty more hard work to strip away the dogma and restore UK road safety thinking to its former position as the best in the World."

The Tory plans fall short of exposing and reversing fundamental flaws in speed camera policy including:

  • The role of speed limits in road safety must be re-examined in the light of technological improvements. Speed limits are an excellent and worthy part of our road safety system, but digital and automated enforcement has promoted speed limits beyond their level of competence. Speed limits worked very well for us when they were enforced with intelligence and due regard for the circumstances.
  • A very fundamental flaw in the rules for speed camera placement has led to them being installed ONLY in locations where it is "safe to speed". As a consequence almost all speed cameras are in the wrong places.
  • Calls for speed limits to be varied with weather conditions sound attractive, but unfortunately tend to promote speed limits into target speeds. To do so is dangerous. It is essential that drivers adjust their speed to take account of prevailing conditions. This behaviour must be encouraged and certainly cannot be replaced.


  • The Tory proposals fall short of attempting to identify the fundamental components of our road safety system. The most fundamental component - that already gives us the safest roads in the world - is our road safety culture. Understanding, developing and enhancing our road safety culture is the key to policy-led improvements in road safety.


  • No one seems to have realised that there is a very good reason indeed why the vast majority of drivers exceed our speed limits from time to time. The truth is that drivers are generally very good indeed at setting a safe speed according to the conditions - the message from the conditions is so strong that driving to the speed limit instead of the conditions actually "feels wrong".


  • Calls for an audit of speed cameras are very welcome indeed. Safe Speed warns that such an audit must consider the full range of speed camera side effects as well any benefit "at speed camera sites".

See the Safe Speed web site for further information:


Notes and links for Editors

Please feel free to strip the web addresses before publication. They are provided for your information and to expand on the points made.

Fraudulent claims of speed camera benefits:

The Stone Report:

FATALITIES FIGURES FOR GB 1950 to 2003 (2004 projected)

Excel spreadsheet:

The same spreadsheet in a zip archive:

The spreadsheet includes exact web references to official data sources and a range of interesting graphs.

About Safe Speed:

Since setting up Safe Speed in 2001, Paul Smith, 49, an advanced motorist and road safety enthusiast, and a professional engineer of 25 years UK experience, has carried out about 5,000 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 3/08/2004. Last update 3/08/2004