Road safety campaign group Safe Speed has drawn attention to research by the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) which highlights "an important and fundamental omission".
The BMJ paper contains no new research, according to Safe Speed. Instead it analyses available research for content, quality and conclusions. Safe Speed said it broadly agrees with the paper's main conclusions, which are:
- Speed camera research tends to find a benefit "at speed camera sites".
- The quality of the research is very poor.
Safe Speed said it has long been drawing attention to the very poor quality of available research.
Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign said, "The main reason for the poor quality of the research seems to be the influence of vested interests. Much of the research has been commissioned by those with an interest in the outcome and this has led to some very bad science.
"However the report completely ignores the factors that we consider the most important. Speed cameras don't just slow us down, they alter the way we think and the things we pay attention to. Most drivers report a very significant shift in the way that they drive in the speed camera era - they pay far more attention to the risk of cameras and the number on the speedo. There is no justification for this change in priorities -- the squandered driver attention to the road ahead is far more important to road safety any general speed reduction.
"It is clearly insufficient to consider the effect of cameras on crashes at speed camera sites. We must also consider the effect on the wider road network.
"Do not make the mistake of thinking that such effects are insignificant. Yes, in any individual the effect is small, but the net effect on 32 million drivers has already cost 8,000 lives according to our best estimates."
Safe Speed reckons that speed cameras are not making the roads safer. "They alter the way we think when we're driving and not for the better. We must scrap all speed cameras and get back to the excellent road safety policies that gave us the safest roads in the world in the first place. Those policies were based on skills, attitudes and responsibilities, and those are the things that really matter."