Information regarding the surveys conducted to gauge public opinion about Speed Cameras


Safe Speed visitor Lloyd Carter provided the following information. Thanks Lloyd.

Here an analysis of one carried out by the Kent and Medway SCP. It was submitted it as a challenge to their "Communications Officer" and her response is recorded at the end: 

There are two areas I wish to focus on, namely the so-called survey carried out on behalf of the “partnership” you represent and also several statements you make on the FAQs page. The latter I will deal with in a separate email which you will receive shortly. 

The whole manner in which your survey has been carried out is blatantly biased and the questions are too high level to obtain any meaningful results. With the exception of no. 3, the questions are all loaded in favour of the cameras. You hardly need a degree in psychology to spot this old trick. 

One thousand people were interviewed for this survey. Whilst I appreciate you cannot consult every resident in Kent, 1000 people out of a population of 1.6 million is not exactly representative, notwithstanding the survey's biased questioning. 

Now let's deal with each question one by one. 

1) Fewer accidents are likely to happen where cameras are installed

You could be fervently anti-camera but concede that there may be the occasional situation where a well signed and visible Gatso may have a safety benefit. This position hardly constitutes a ringing endorsement for any increase in their usage yet would easily generate the response you are seeking on the survey. In addition what you are really seeking in many cases is peoples’ perceptions of speed cameras influenced by the question's bias. The truth can be somewhat different: - 20% rise in KSI figures at Gatso sites in Birmingham. 

2) Cameras mean that dangerous drivers are now more likely to get caught

Again the question is loaded in favour of speed cameras and is so woolly to be meaningless in reality. The initial perception could be that dangerous drivers are more likely to get caught, once again giving you the answer you want. In reality, have those questioned really been given the opportunity to think about what really constitutes a dangerous driver? For example can speed cameras protect against tailgating, drivers talking on the mobile, drivers under the influence of illegal drugs, drivers who have inadequate eyesight (1 in 6 according to recent studies) and the sheer incompetence that so often occurs below the speed limit? I think not. Nevertheless, the fact that you are capitalising on a misperception in order to drive your campaign forward appears to highlight are rather sinister agenda. 

3) Cameras are an easy way of making money out of motorists

This is a commonly held belief that is backed up by ample evidence. Asking this question is just a ploy on your part. It allows you to sell the “look, we're not out to make any money” line, thus giving you the opportunity to mislead the public into believing you have sincere intentions. It also a cynical attempt to make the survey look “balanced.” 

4) Cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to the limits, not punish them 

Once again this highlights the blatant bias you employ. Respondents may well agree that cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to the limits, but would go on to say that in reality this is not working because so many people are being caught speeding. However the opportunity to say this is not given. Perhaps the question should have been worded “Do you feel that speed cameras are being used to punish drivers or to encourage them to keep to the speed limit?” Incidentally what do you think would have been the response had the question been “Are cameras being used to catch out drivers and raise revenue for the Government?” 

5) The primary aim of safety cameras is to save lives 

This is another loaded question using the sanitised phrase “Safety cameras”. An easy association - how could anything with the word “safety” in it not be about saving lives? I think the response would have been somewhat different if the question had been “What do you think is the primary aim of speed cameras?” Even if the primary aim is to save lives that doesn't mean the system won't be abused when used in anger (as it so often has). 

6) The use of safety cameras should be supported as a method of reducing casualties

Maybe, but more importantly, how and to what degree is not addressed. This is a high level, woolly, loaded question that will easily achieve the desired response. Again the result is easily taken out of context to fuel your propaganda machine. 

7) There are too many cameras in our local area

I believe there are about 50 fixed camera sites around Kent so Gatsos are a rarity to many people, especially those living in rural areas. How can anyone realistically declare there are too many cameras in their area when there probably aren't any there in the first place?!! Of course they are going to agree with you! Besides, even if there are no Gatsos in a particular location it doesn't mean that any are needed. Again, this is another meaningless question tailored to suit your propaganda machine and make it look as if people want more cameras. 

You say on “Survey confirms public support for safety cameras and speed reduction. People of Kent and Medway are squarely behind the use of safety cameras across the county and believe that even more should be done to reduce speed, according to the results of a new survey conducted across the region.” 

Where on earth does this survey confirm public support for speed reduction? 

The point is that if you are being open and honest with the public as you claim you are being on your web site, why are you employing a fundamentally dishonest method of surveying and deriving wild assumptions from the results?" 

Her response: 

The Kent & Medway Safety Camera Partnership commissioned this research in order to gain an insight into public perceptions and public attitudes towards safety cameras across the county of Kent. Regular surveys are mandatory and are requested of all such Safety Camera Partnerships across the UK. The Department for Transport (DfT) requires us to include the seven statements you have questioned in each survey we conduct. If you have any concerns about these statements, I suggest you contact the DfT direct using the following email address:

Safe Speed concludes

After many millions of pounds of public money have been spent on selling the false "speed kills" message to the public, it's hardly surprising that a significant proportion of the public believe it. Not very many years ago, we could trust the government to tell us the truth about matter of public interest. The idea of the government twisting the truth about road safety would have been absurd. But here we are in 2003 and the government has succeeded in deluding a significant proportion of the public with their lies and spin. Imagine the situation of a non driver. They have no reason to know what factors actually makes the roads safe. The government tells them that "speeding drivers are killing a thousand people a year" and it's not really surprising that a significant proportion of the non driving population falls for it hook line and sinker.

But they now have to work really hard to try to maintain the illusion. The truth is increasingly told by the newspapers and other interest groups and the government lies are beginning to be widely exposed.

If there's one thing that these survey questions demonstrate with absolute clarity, it's that the government is not interested in the genuine opinions of the public - they are once again rigging the evidence. This is just one more reason to doubt everything they say on the subject of speed and accidents, because they clearly have a hidden agenda.

Calling for real road safety, based on truth

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Created 14/08/2003. Last update 14/08/2003