Clare Brixey is leading a protest for Wiltshire Council to keep speed cameras, on behalf of the pro speed ccameras lobby group BRAKE. Her son Ashley was killed in 2004 after the car he was being driven in lost control after taking a bend. So her strength of feeling on the subject is natural. But does the evidence back her case?
Road safety expert Idris Francis comments:
I cannot help wondering whether young Ashley, when he got in the car with his friend might have known that he had been drinking and taking drugs – but went with him anyway?
I see nothing to show that when the car crashed it was exceeding the speed limit – the driver's inability to negotiate the bend might well have been due entirely or largely to drink and drugs than to speed.
I wonder whether Ashley's mother might have been aware that he son was associating with those taking drink and drugs, and how much blame she herself is prepared to accept for what, tragically, happened to her son? Or is it, as so often these days, always someone else's fault?
Nor is there any evidence that cameras have achieved anything at all in terms of deaths or serious injuries in Wiltshire – these are the three year rolling averages of deaths from 2000 43, 46.3, 43.3, 48.6, 50.6, 49, 46.3, 48, 47.7 and 44.7 – every one of them worse or much worse than before the camera Partnership started.
Serious Injuries have fallen much more slowly that before the cameras came in – despite credible reports of reporting levels falling steeply while hospital records show more serious road injuries treated.
Brake have been perfectly well aware for at least 3 years – I copied the evidence to them – that vehicle activated signs costing £1,000 a year are as effective as speed cameras costing £50,000 a year – and that spending even a fraction of the camera budget on signs would greatly improve road safety. Brake has repeatedly failed to acknowledge that information, including refusing to speak to me when I telephoned them about it.
If they genuinely understood road safety or indeed had even a basic understanding of arithmetic – they would jump at the chance of much more safety even for less money – but they refuse. To what extent is their insistence on cameras influenced by funding they receive from the speed camera industry?