So it would seem that Oxfordshire County Council are about to turn on the speed cameras again, just a few months after they were turned off. I wonder why?
I suspect yesterday evening’s BBC news story explains a lot. The bulletin featured a 9 year old girl from Nuneham Courtney explaining that she wanted drivers to be safe as they drove through her village. For her, this meant them slowing down – and she thought a camera was the best way to make sure they did. She was eloquent, clear and clearly cared about safety and her village. Some shots of roadside “speed kills” posters drawn by local school children, then I was on. Middle aged, grey-haired fat bloke with an argument that explained how driving is a complex thing and suggesting speed cameras were too blunt in the way they work.
See what I mean?
I think that BBC bulletin explains more clearly than anything else why the Council has flip-flopped.
We know it’s not about road safety. Speed is a factor in less than 7% of crashes. It’s about politics. I suspect local councillors have been deluged with letters, e-mails and probably a petition or two from residents (aka voters) asking for cameras back. What are they going to do when faced with the local primary school class on their doorstep, closely followed by a reporter from the local paper? What are they going to do when the locals in the pub give them a hard time for their council pulling the plug on the local camera?
Speed gets a reaction from people. Plenty of people want a camera outside their house who are happy to exceed a limit down the next street – let alone the next village. And they’re vocal about it – because it’s an emotional, not a rational, reaction.
That’s why my rational argument looked lame compared with the opinion of a 9 year old girl. She was right too – people SHOULD be driving safely through her village, but a camera won’t make them. Instead, it and the policy behind it, will distract drivers – and councillors too – from what really makes drivers and riders safe.
All I wonder now is whether funding for that girl’s school – or for the old people’s home where perhaps her grandparents are cared for – will be cut to find the £600k to turn the power back on?