Camera candour

SPEED cameras work. Their presence, at accident blackspots across the country, has saved countless lives. Any appraisal about their effectiveness has to acknowledge this reality.

The reason that they attract so much criticism, however, is the widespread belief that they have been used primarily as revenue-raising machines rather than as a means to protect the safety of motorists and pedestrians alike.

This is illustrated by the growing number of authorities who are now dismantling their cameras as they come to terms with the Government's spending cuts.

The latest area to be affected is South Yorkshire where the cameras that generate the least money are being switched off. Presumably, this would not be happening if there was a tangible link between the use of such technology and the safety of road users; the police and councils concerned would surely be able to find the necessary funding from within their depleted resources.

It is why the Government's moves to bring about greater transparency are welcome. Speed cameras would not have become a mini-industry with a vast bureaucracy of its own, or derided by so many motorists, if information about the number of drivers breaking the law at specific locations had been published from the outset.

This would have helped to retain public confidence. Now there's a possibility that some sites which are genuine accident blackspots will be disbanded on cost grounds rather than safety considerations.

Again, this is wrong. Road safety has to be the prerequisite at all times. And, if this had been the case when local authorities, encouraged by the last Government, were rolling out the cameras, then they would not be facing such difficult dilemmas about the existence of a scheme which has been a proven success – where used appropriately.