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Accidents go up at speed camera sites

PUBLISHED: 05:12 12 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

AN MP yesterday questioned why the number of serious road accidents close to speed cameras had risen in Essex while almost everywhere else figures had dramatically improved.

AN MP yesterday questioned why the number of serious road accidents close to speed cameras had risen in Essex while almost everywhere else figures had dramatically improved.

Conservative Bernard Jenkin, a former shadow transport secretary, said he was surprised that the number of deaths and serious injuries within 500 metres of a speed camera had increased by 15% in the county.

Essex was one of eight police forces piloting a scheme which allowed it to keep most of the proceeds of speeding fines generated by cameras so it could invest in more of them.

However, although the number of accidents close to cameras rose in the county, figures dropped by as much as 67% in Strathclyde, 62% in Lincolnshire and 53% in Cleveland.

Mr Jenkin, who is MP for North Essex, said: "There is no route to instant accident reduction through speed cameras alone. They have to be part of a whole strategy.

"They should only be used at accident blackspots, where speed reduction is seen as having a vital role in reducing accidents.

"They are not for conditioning driver behaviour – they are not an education tool. People should know where they are and where they will get caught, so they will automatically slow down to avoid accidents."

However Essex's safety camera liaison officer Kelly Fairweather defended the county's strategy.

"We were aware of the situation and changed our enforcement strategy in October last year. The report yesterday looked at figures up to March 2002."

She added that in the past static and mobile cameras had not always been placed at KSI sites – those which had previously had accidents in which people were Killed or Seriously Injured – but that they are now.

"Everything is now graded and very structured. We do accept from the report that there are lessons to be learned and we have addressed them," she said.

As well as Essex, another area to buck the trend was Thames Valley, where accidents close to cameras increased by 14%.

On average the trial showed that the number of deaths and serious injuries in the areas monitored fell by an 35% on roads where more speed cameras were installed.

Transport Secretary Alistair Darling said the Essex and Thames Valley results were disappointing, and suggested that other road safety measures might have to be tightened and the forces' strategies for positioning the cameras reconsidered.

Speed camera fines increased from £40 to £60 a year ago and drivers who fall foul of them also receive three penalty points on their licences.


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