Speed cameras have been shown to be effective at reducing the number of accidents and road deaths according to the results of a new study conducted at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). From 1992 to 2016, speed cameras reduced accidents by between 17 to 39 per cent and fatalities by between 58 to 68 per cent within 500 metres of the cameras.
This means that adding another 1,000 cameras to British roads could save up to 190 lives annually, reduce up to 1,130 collisions and mitigate 330 serious injuries.
The study, conducted by Cheng Keat Tang, a PhD student and Researcher in the Department of Geography and Environment at LSE, analysed collision outcomes both before and after the cameras were installed across 2,500 sites in England, Scotland and Wales. The study draws on information collected from both the Department for Transport (DfT) and local councils across the UK.
Tang said: “The study clearly shows that speed cameras reduce both the number and severity of road accidents. Given the huge number of fatal accidents that take place on our roads every year, the introduction of more cameras could save hundreds of lives annually and make our roads safer for users.”
The study found that the effects of the cameras appear highly localised within 500 metres of the camera sites. Moving away, a slight increase, or rebound, of collisions is observed beyond 1.5 kilometres. This could be due to a `kangaroo’ effect as drivers break suddenly before the camera to avoid fines or speed up beyond camera surveillance, causing more accidents. Nevertheless, the study points to an overall net reduction in accidents and injuries as a result of the cameras.
Tang said: “Although the study found a slight increase in accidents away from the camera, the overall reduction in road accidents and deaths around the camera more than makes up for this increase.”
Although these fixed speed cameras are effective, with technological advancement, the researcher suggests policymakers should consider investing in newer camera prototypes, such as variable and mobile speed cameras. These devices basically do the same job, but they can enforce speed limits over a bigger area with lower risk of `kangaroo’ effects. This is especially crucial in the light of cuts in police funding.
Department for Transport figures show motor crashes to be the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 5-34 in the UK. Speeding accounted for 60 per cent of fatal accidents in 2015.