Road Chaos Ahead


What happens when motorists discover speed cameras get switched off?

No surprise in the answer.

In Oxfordshire in the UK fixed speed cameras were deactivated because of budget cuts.

But the equipment was left inside some of them.

Data from these cameras has revealed that as soon as news was out, speeding has increased by 88% in some locations in the first fortnight.

The decision to switch off the 72 fixed and 89 mobile speed cameras happened after the government cut its road grant by $658,000 and the council in turn cut its roading budget by $1.3m which mean every speed camera in the county went dark.

This may happen all over the country.

The government has slashed road safety grants to every council in England and Wales - those grants used to fund road cameras and the government says councils will have to fund speed cameras themselves.

There’s speculation speed cameras throughout the country will also get switched off as councils haven’t the money themselves to maintain them.




  1. Geoff says:

    Surely the revenue from the fines should be more than enough to operate them?

    Mind you, their revenue may be low over there, because they have warning signs in advance of the camera telling how far ahead the next one is. It probably causes close to 100% of people to slow before reaching it, which solves the speeding problem, but cuts the revenue.

    In NZ you don’t get any warning, so lots get caught speeding and revenue is high.

  2. George D says:

    “which solves the speeding problem”

    In that tiny stretch of road. NZ has dramatically cut its road toll, and enforcement of speed limits has been a big part.

  3. karl says:

    Shows you how spending at the wrong end will kill. Literally.

  4. Matt says:

    The evidence in favour of strict enforcement of speed limits is very, very ambiguous. I don’t want to know what this has done to incidents of breaking the speed limit on a stretch of road, I want to know what it does to the rates of avoidable collisions (they’re not common, but a percentage of crashes do happen due to medical events or vehicle faults) and avoidable deaths.

  5. karl says:

    I’d like to know how it is ambigious. Of course even a perfect enforcement does not prevent accidents. And maybe there is a tendency for diminishing returns the stricter you get, but otherwise, that argument simply does not make any sense to me. Do you have sources for that, and a reason?

    Also, you can argue that a long time of strict enforcement eventually translates into a safety culture, just as a history and societal tradition of non-enforcement leads to crazy driving. Witness southern Europe for example, where road rules are much more “advisory” than say, in Germany or Scandinavia (who both have much better safety track records than NZ - and not all of that is because of better roads and cars). Lower speeds are still the best panacea for just about every type of crash.

  6. Matt says:

    Karl, good example is Montana in, I think it was, 1995. The state has historically had flexible enforcement of speed on interstates, where if you’re not driving like an idiot relative to the conditions the state troopers won’t ping you. The federal government mandated strict speed limits on interstates, with related enforcement, in order to gain access to federal roading funds. The number of fatalities increased dramatically (think 40% or more) when the limits were posted and enforcement began. After two years the limits were removed and enforcement went back to “If you’re driving like a dick, we’ll do you”, and the numbers of fatalities declined again. Plenty of information about it online.

    Similarly, there’s been discussion as to how effective speed limit enforcement has been in NZ, which suggestions that a lot of the decrease in our road toll has been down to vehicle engineering rather than enforcement. Safer cars mean people are less likely to be killed if there’s a collision, which brings the road toll down independently of anything else that’s happening.

    Questions have been raised about how effective the UK’s very, very rigid limit enforcement has been, too. Their road toll has not declined with any kind of correlation to increasing stringency of enforcement, which suggests that much of their gain has been, like ours, assisted by safer cars rather than more and stricter policing of the law.

    As I said, the evidence is very ambiguous. Is it the speed limit, or the belief that you’re being watched and consequently drive more carefully? Look at Queen’s Birthday, where the cops said they were going to be out in force. Lowest recorded road toll in years, but in a return trip from Hamilton to Turangi on the Saturday/Monday I saw fewer than a dozen cop cars, and only half were marked. That’s nearly 600km, supposedly with a greatly-increased police presence, and I saw very few cops actually in evidence. But the suggestion that the cops were going to be out in force (and I’m sure that they were, in places) appears to have done wonders for the overall behaviour of the driving public. Toss in crap weather, and people were inclined toward driving safely. I place far less faith in the “4km/h tolerance” mantra from that weekend and far more on the “There are going to be lots of cops on the road, watching” message as the reason behind the road toll. People drive more safely if they think they’re being watched. It’s human nature.


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