A new transparency move is set to be launched today which will see Mike Penning, the Road Safety Minister, order police and local authorities to provide previously hidden statistics to the public.
The statistics will give a clearer indication for the first time whether speed cameras are helping to save lives and reduce speed, or whether they are simply generating revenue.
Previously the freedom of information law has been the only way in which to obtain the information, but now authorities will have to provide statistics of accidents and casualties at sites both before and after camera installations.
They will also have to provide information on which cameras have provided the biggest income. One unit in Essex has reported brought in revenue from fines of £2.3million, while one in Battersea is said to be earning £1million a year.
The information will enable "league tables" of the highest-earning cameras to be compiled, and will provide strong backing to already-growing pressure for many cameras to be scrapped.
Information will have to be made readily available within four weeks on the Internet, with data going back to 1990 on casualties and collisions.
The amount of speed cameras on Britain’s roads started to balloon in the 1990’s, and by 2010 they are responsible for over £100million worth of fines.
However a move welcomed by motoring organisations last year saw ministers cut the road safety budgets by 40% as part of wider moves to end the ‘war on the motorist’.
There has long been opposition between motorists and safety campaigners. Motorists feel that they are being used as a cash cow, whilst safety campaigners feel that the cameras genuinely reduce accidents as they force people to drive within the speed limits.
A speed camera unit between junctions 5 and 4 of the southbound carriageway of the M11 in Essex was responsible for generating fines of just under £500,000 year a report in 2009 showed. The camera was responsible for around 9,000 fixed penalty notices for speeding. Statistics have shown however that the number crashes at the site almost doubled between 2000, when the camera was installed, and 2009.
Ian Donaldson, Managing Director of Autonet said, “If safety were truly the goal of speed cameras, then they shouldn’t be generating such high revenue, as people would not be speeding. Unfortunately speed cameras do generate high amounts of revenue. These statistics will help to show where speed cameras do save lives, and where they just take money from motorists.
Hopefully it will open up new ways to make Britain’s roads safer while having no detriment to the many safe drivers in the UK.
By Ben Malkin
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