Camera Claim for M4 Accident Reduction Unfounded
Road safety group, the Association of British Drivers, has cast doubt over Wiltshire and Swindon Speed Camera Partnership’s claims to have reduced accidents on the M4. The Partnership says they have reduced crashes by between 44% and 57%. The ABD believes this is a remarkable achievement given that fewer than 15% of crashes on this stretch of motorway had excess speed as one of their causes, many of these not involving exceeding the speed limit.
“There’s something very odd going on here,” said the ABD’s Director of Policy Mark McArthur-Christie. “We have a speed camera partnership claiming credit for reducing accidents that weren’t even caused by speeding. This seems disingenuous at best.”
The ABD believes the Partnership is being extremely selective in the statistics it chooses to report. McArthur-Christie comments, “The camera partnership is taking credit for falls in deaths — but the fatality rate from 2005 (2) was identical to that in 1999 and 2000 — despite the camera partnership only starting motorway operations in 2005.” Serious injuries are down — but they are also down across the road network as technological developments like airbags and seatbelt tensioners save lives.
When the M4 cameras were first introduced, the ABD was prevented from having access to the motorway’s crash statistics. It was only after being forced to pay more than £100 that the group was allowed to see the figures. On detailed analysis it became clear that inattention, failure to judge other drivers’ speed and changing lanes without looking were the biggest killers on this stretch of road (accounting for 75% of fatal crashes), not speed. This makes it all the more remarkable that the Partnership is now claiming credit for crash rate reductions.
“We need to be careful not to attribute success to the wrong thing. The presence of cameras may be forcing drivers to pay more attention on this stretch of motorway, but the threat of prosecution and speeding tickets will not improve safety. If there’s a genuine reduction in crashes it’s because drivers have woken up and are more attentive — not because they’re sticking to the limit.”
Notes for Editors