Presentation on theme: "Speed Cameras Cost-Effective Road Accident Reduction or Expensive and Dangerous Confidence Trick? Are Camera Benefit Claims Credible – Or are they pernicious."— Presentation transcript:
Speed Cameras Cost-Effective Road Accident Reduction or Expensive and Dangerous Confidence Trick? Are Camera Benefit Claims Credible – Or are they pernicious nonsense? Idris Francis B.Sc May 2013
All data in this presentation and on the Fight Back With Facts web site comes from official sources unless otherwise stated The only errors, as identified, are believed to be those made by the various authorities. If other errors come to light they will be corrected immediately - not ignored or brushed off as the authorities have done for years. The analysis comparing casualty trend at speed camera sites with elsewhere does not rely on statistical theories, computer or mathematical models or data cherry-picked to arrive at pre- determined conclusions but is simply a record of when and where accidents have happened on our roads. Please put to one side any views you might already have on the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of speed cameras, and assess the evidence with open minds.
Take no ones word Motto of the Royal Society. In other words, do not necessarily believe what anyone tells you, whatever their reputation, status or position. Even the best are mistaken from time to time, even supposed experts can be biased or unwilling to admit to error. We need more than ever people prepared to stand up and object when we see that the Emperor has no clothes.
I usually assume that anything written by a civil servant will be correct comment in 2012 by Professsor Allsop in an to critics of his RAC report claiming camera benefits. Wrong! This is why so many reports turn out to be whitewash, merely repeating and taking as read what went before. If you assume that what you see is correct, why review it at all? In my considerable experience of road safety issues, civil servants and other public employees are too often not only wrong, but prepared to go to any lengths to avoid admitting that they are wrong. The only safe assumption for an reviewer is that everything is wrong unless and until proven otherwise.
Lacking any analytical ability of my own, I assess papers on the basis of the CVs of their authors Robert Gifford of PACTS, to the late Paul Smith of Safe Speed, circa The question here must be why someone unable to understand the subject is employed to pontificate on it in public. Also known as The Halo Effect, as in show-jumping, aerobatics and any other compsetitions where judging is subjective rather than objective. Also known as Judging a book by its cover, which is why so much so utter twaddle becomes perceived opinion and why so many celebrities are on our screens pontificating on things they know nothing about.
"There are those who don't know, and those who don't know that they don't know" The economist J.K. Galbraith, about forecasters who know so little of their subject that they don't even know how little they know. They are not alone.
Measure what is important, not what is easy to measure American Defence Secretary Robert McNamara in an urgent message to the US Air Force during the Vietnam war. He should have told our Department of Transport! When (relatively) low cost electronics, radar and computers made speed measurement and penalties easy, the authorities elevated speeding – a relatively minor cause of accidents – to top priority and even more so when they devised a way of making drivers, not police budgets, pay for it.
"Cognitive dissonance Psychologists' term for the way that people refuse to accept cleasr evidence that conflicts with their beliefs or hopes. "My mind is made up, please do not confuse me with the facts" The usual response of politicians, civil servants and other public employees when confronted with clear evidence that they are wrong. Particularly prevalent in the DfT and Camera Partnerships, Brake and other true believers in Speed Kills! – though more as a religion than science. "The Ronan Point syndrome as above, after the architect of that tower block (later demolished) who faced TV cameras with one foot on a pile of rubble to declare the building to be "perfectly safe".
"I cannot envisage a scenario where the publication of an annual report can cause a breach of a statutory duty of care Detective Inspector S Miller, Humberside Police, 1 st June 2012 in rejecting my complaint against Safer Roads Humber. I have on some six occasions filed formal complaints with different police forces about misconduct in public office and related offences. Not one of those forces challenged the documented evidence I provided, instead they have simply refused to do anything about it.
Perjury Act 1911 (c.6) Main body 5. False statutory declarations and other false statements without oath. If any person knowingly and wilfully makes (otherwise than on oath) a statement false in a material particular, and the statement is made (a) in a statutory declaration; or ……in an abstract, account, balance sheet, book, certificate, declaration, entry, estimate, inventory, notice, report, return, or other document which he is authorised or required to make, attest, or verify ……he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable on conviction thereof on indictment to imprisonment…for any term not exceeding two years, or to a fine or to both such imprisonment and fine.
"When the impossible has been eliminated what remains must be the answer. Sherlock Holmes In this context the same applies: As it is not remotely possible for speed cameras to bring about the observed reduction in casualties, other factors must be responsible. Our task is to identify the real reasons accident numbers fall, and then quantify them to establish what, if anything, remains for which cameras could be reasonably be credited. And then to look at relative cost-effectiveness of cameras compared to other measures.
Remember, boys, when you have worked out the answer, you must always ask yourself – Does it make sense? One of the most important lessons I ever learned, in 1954, but sadly unknown to many these days, it seems. So should we believe what the authorities and others with vested interests tell us about speed camera benefits? You be the judge once you have seen the real evidence.
And the point of the last 6 slides? That to see clearly you need a great deal of data, not a few statistically meaningless numbers which might well be misleading. For example – Professor Allsops recent report for the RAC analyses 150 sites that received cameras. My analysis, soon to be published, covers well in excess of 100,000 sites that would have qualified for cameras – would you care to guess who sees the evidence most clearly? But before we get serious - and this is a very serious subject - let's start with a little joke. A joke at the expense of the DfT, but a joke of some significance in that it show how little confidence we can have in the DfT, politicians and the media: T
Written Answers - Transport: Motor Vehicles: Lighting (25 Feb 2008) Jim Fitzpatrick: Research undertaken for the Department for Transport indicated that the requirement for new types of motor vehicle to be equipped with dedicated daytime running lamps would result in an increase of about 5 per cent in fuel consumption. Hansard That this was self-evident nonsense escaped the notice of the national Press who reported it verbatim. I ed the Minister to point out that the figure could not possibly be correct and received the following reply three days later:
03 MAR 2008 Dear Mr. Francis Thank you for your on the 26 February 2008 commenting on my answer to a parliamentary question on the estimated increase in fuel consumption due to the installation of daytime running lights. You were correct to question the estimated increase in fuel consumption. The figure given in the answer was mistyped and should have read "about 0.5 per cent and not "about 5 per cent". I can only apologise for this mistake which was due to an administrative error. The figure of 0.5 per cent assumes two dedicated daytime running lamps rated at 21 watts each are fitted and is intended to give a broad indication of the likely increase. It also assumes that dedicated daytime running tamps are fitted with filament bulbs. Some vehicle manufacturers use LEDs for certain lighting functions which consume much less power. Over time LED powered daytime running lights will become more common helping to reduce the predicted increase in fuel consumption. JIM FITZPATRICK
But now for something a great deal more serious - how much or how little the Transport Select Committee (Transcom) understand about speed cameras, simple arithmetic or indeed plain common sense. To be fair perhaps, we should recognise that the then Chairman of Transcom Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, often referred to herself as a bear of little brain – our mistake was to take more notice of her other statements than that one.
Transcoms Select Committees view of speed cameras: 117. We questioned the Department about which measures were more effective and more cost-effective than speed cameras the 20 mph zone and the speed-activated sign had achieved greater casualty reduction than the camera (8.1 and 3.1 per year respectively, compared to 2.2). In terms of the value for money, however, the speed camera was shown to be the most cost-effective (the first year rate of return was 12 times the cost, compared to 0.8 and 10.6 respectively) Well-placed cameras bring tremendous safety benefits at excellent cost-benefit ratios. A more cost effective measure for reducing speeds and casualties has yet to be introduced. An increase in safety camera coverage would be supported by evidence, as well as public opinion. Report Oct 2006 Utter tripe, of course, as we will see:
The extraordinary figures the DfT gave Transcom for 1 st year costs:- Camera Sign 1st Year Costs £ 7,500 £ 14,000 Casualty Reduction Value each casualty £ 41,240 £ 48,100 1st Year Return 12.6 / / 1 It being inconceivable that a camera (a far more complex device with an expensive downstream penalty system) could cost only half as much as a sign I complained to the DfT and Transcom that the comparison was nonsense. When both denied in writing that the figures were misleading I obtained more information using FoI and forced then Minister Stephen Ladyman to admit to Transcom that the numbers were indeed wildly wrong. His letter to Transcom admitting that serious errors is at /2012/03/F.34-Ladyman-to-Cttee.pdf
Show Ladyman's letter admitting that these figures were wildly wrong
Here are the figures after (only) those two corrections:- Camera Sign 1st Year Costs £39,500 £ 7,000 Casualty Reduction Value each £ 41,240 £ 48,100 1st Year Return 2.3 / / 1 Then, having admitted that signs were 9 times more cost effective than cameras they ignored it and continued to call for more cameras! I therefore commissioned an independent Accountants Report, and sent copies of it in 2007 to every Police Force and Partnership in the country. They too ignored it, even though when all the DfTs errors had been corrected the advantage of signs over cameras was more like 50 to 1. The Accountants Report is at content/uploads/2012/03/F.42-Accountants-Report.pdf
The Final Summary of an independent Report stated that: 1.The costs of cameras and VASs as quoted by Dr Ladyman MP and Mrs Dunwoody MP were so inaccurate as to be either deliberately misleading or incompetent. 2. The safety justifications are too unreliable and vague to support the much more expensive option. Both methods slow down cars to a broadly similar extent. 3. It is clear from the financial data and supported by government correspondence, that the real reason for erecting so many cameras (as opposed to VASs) is the financial gain to be made from speeding penalties, not safety. 4. It is clear that for any given budget, it is more advantageous to use VASs than safety cameras to control excessive speed, whether by achieving the same results for less money or better results for the same money.
Before looking at detail at what has happened in the speed camera eras we need to understand the background – what happened to road casualty numbers and trends since WW2, long before speed cameras were invented (originally by Mr. Gatsonides, a racing driver, for checking lap times, not for road policing purposes. He became very wealthy at much the same time as millions of safe drivers became poorer.)
Deaths Each Day in Britain (approximate) All Causes ,800 Avoidable Hospital Deaths (infection, medical errors, neglect etc Suicides Falls at home Road Deaths, all kinds As above, involving speeding Primarily caused by speeding As above, on the 2% of roads with cameras (0.003%) Might a visitor from another planet wonder why we are spending £100m a year trying to reduce 0.003% of deaths in this country, when the same money could save vastly more lives spent in other more cost-effective ways? Like mops, buckets and disinfectant? When being in a hospital bed is several hundred times per hour, more likely to result in accidental death than being in a car at 70mph on a motorway ?
DfT Table RAS Killed Seriously injured Contributory factor No % No % Road environment contributed , Vehicle defects Injudicious action , Exceeding speed limit ,378 7 Travelling too fast for conditions ,759 9 Driver/rider error or reaction 1, ,39566 Poor turn or manoeuvre ,84214 Failed to look properly ,88234 Failed to judge path or speed ,18616 Swerved ,19021 Impairment or distraction ,15215 Impaired by alcohol ,386 7 Behaviour or inexperience ,24726 Careless, reckless or in ,53317 Pedestrian only ,77919 Total number 1, ,
About 12 times as many SI (serious Injuries) are reported as fatalities. The 14% Fatal and 7% SI (fatal and serious) figures here include accidents where the involvement of speeding was just "possible as well as very likely and also where speeding was not the primary cause of the accident but just one of usually several contributing factors. The 14% and 7% numbers therefore overstate the importance of speeding, and even if if cameras completely eliminated speeding - which they most certainly do not - they could not eliminate more than (say) 10% of Fatal and 5% of KSI accidents. In any case, cameras cover only less than 2% of road length and (even if placed at sites where accident rates are high, this low geographical coverage reduces maximum benefit to no more than the odd 1% of national fatalities (approx. 20 per annum), 0.5% of SI (about 100) or 120 KSI - at a cost of £100m a year or close to £2bn to date.
Now let's look at the claims for speed cameras benefit, in the context of what has happened for decades without them, taking Safer Roads Humber as an example: Turn to Part 11