Letter to the Editor
Ron re-examines the question of speeding drivers
I was interested to read the letter last month by a former police officer on the subject of speeding and speed cameras. He, like many others, challenges the claim that speed cameras save lives on the grounds that speeding is not seen as a major cause of accidents. Whilst it may be true that excessive speed is not often the actual cause, what the statistics do not show is the number of accidents that might have been avoided if one or more of the vehicles involved had not been travelling so fast at the time of the incident. More importantly, perhaps, they do not show the number of lives that might have been saved and the number of injuries that might have been lessened if the vehicles involved in the accident had not been travelling so fast.
He referred to the road between Royston and Baldock (the A505, not the A405 by the way) suggesting that speed cameras have made that road more dangerous. I used to travel that road daily, before there were speed cameras, and saw a number of nasty accidents. Although it is a dual carriageway it also has a number of side roads that are not seen clearly a long way ahead, so that there are places where even 70mph is too fast. It is important to try to keep speeds within the limit on that road and I strongly support the installation of cameras along there. I agree that there is a danger that drivers will slow for the cameras but I doubt if they slow at such a rate that they are a danger. Furthermore, unless they slow rapidly to well below the speed limit, they are unlikely to be a danger to anyone travelling at or below the limit. Personally I think that, whilst there should be warning notices that cameras are installed, the cameras themselves should be concealed so that drivers do not know their location. After all the objective should be to get drivers to observe the speed limit at all times.
I am not convinced by his argument that a car doing 36mph is only 3mph above the enforceable limit and it is therefore rather harsh to prosecute. The limit is 30mph, where would he like to see the line drawn? A car travelling at 36mph requires an extra 22ft for stopping and it has 44% more kinetic energy than a car at 30mph. It is capable of doing considerably more damage in the event of a collision. One point in his letter with which I would agree wholeheartedly, however, is the ridiculously low fines imposed on drivers caught driving without insurance.
I am concerned that the reliance on cameras to enforce speed limits rather than police patrols fails to do anything about speeding motorcyclists who are responsible for a disproportionate number of fatal accidents. I believe that in Norfolk motorcyclists, who represent a small proportion of total road users, account for 60% of fatal accidents during the summer months. The cameras also fail to enforce the speed limits for commercial vehicles since the camera is only triggered by speeds in excess of the limit for cars.
Speed limits for heavier vehicles are: Cars with trailers, buses, goods vehicles below 7.5 tonnes laden; - single carriageway 50mph, dual carriageway 60mph, motorways 70mph (except cars with trailers which are limited to 60mph on motorways)
Vehicles over 7.5 tonnes max laden weight - single carriageway 40mph, dual carriageway 50mph, motorways 60mph.
I accept that it may be time to review some speed limits but to have laws which are not enforced in one area will encourage their disregard in others.