Driving

It’s the end

Well, apparently, that’s it for speed cameras in Oxfordshire.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if road safety was as simple as some people believe?  Lots of nice ‘facts’.  A clear, easy solution to save lives.  Even better if we could enforce that solution automatically by machine.

Van crashes into speed camera

Speed cameras save lives. Apparently.

Pity it it’s not so simple.  Driving a car is one of the most complex things most people do each day.  That means the blunt use of a big stick to enforce arbitrary compliance with just one, tiny aspect of safe driving – speed – was never going to work.

The camera focus also left the roads free for the drunks, the druggies and the rest of the criminal fraternity as police traffic departments were scaled back.  This, my friends, is not “freeing the police to deal with more important issues”.  Traffic police have always had a knack of using their noses to sniff out dodgy drivers.  Cameras simply gave the criminals an easy run of the road.

But people still believe in speed cameras in rather the same way others believe in the Turin Shroud’s divine origins, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

Either way, pro or anti-camera, we’ve seen the last of them in Oxfordshire.  The real shame is that we’ve wasted the eighteen years since the first camera was installed on an utterly failed national road safety policy based around “speed kills” and its corollary belief that a speed limit indicated a “safe” speed.

Sure, speed is easy to measure and prosecute, but we should not be seduced by what is easy.  After all, it is just one factor in only 6% of crashes.

So what’s the alternative? Well, the car-haters and compliance-junkies will spit feathers – it’s education and training.  They’re the only way we’ll equip drivers and riders to deal with the complexity of the driving and riding task.  It also has the neat trick of fitting a speed limiter to their heads, not their cars, their bikes or the road.  It won’t make them stick to the limits, but it WILL make them safe.

Go on – dare you.  Get yourself trained, don’t just carp about numbers on sticks.

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