BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

Accessibility help
Text only
BBC Homepage
BBC Radio
TodayBBC Radio 4

Listen Again
Latest Reports
Interview of the Week
About Today
Today at 50
Message Board
Contact Today

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

Weekdays 6-9am and Saturdays 7-9am How to listen to Today
Latest Reports

Speed Cameras


Roger HarrabinRoger Harrabin

An independent report commissioned by the BBC has made serious criticisms of the government's speed camera policy.

Introduction to our speed cameras tribunal.

Roger Harrabin sets out the debate in detail.

N. Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom firmly supports cameras.

Hear what our outside broadcast audience in Llandudno thought.

Clips from the tribunal:

Prof. Stone asks both sides what role public opinion should play in govt road policy.

Is policy now the master of research? Stone challenges Gifford and Smith on trusting "authority".

What do we mean by "speeding"? How should the govt handle speeders?

Stone puts forward a controversial metaphor, covers the physics of accidents, and other motorway metaphysics.

speed camera

Research shows speed cameras save lives.

Read Rob Gifford's tribunal submission on cameras.

Read Paul Smith's tribunal submission on cameras.



Today broadcast from Llandudno.

Safespeed website.

PACTS website.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

bus stop

Should cameras remain hidden from the road?
Rob Gifford

Director of P.A.C.T.S - Rob Gifford
Dr Paul Smith

Paul Smith - founder of  'Safe Speed' road 

The report by Professor Mervyn Stone of University College London, supports the official view that cameras do save

But he says the number of fatalities prevented in the UK might have been exaggerated because of weaknesses in statistics and their analysis. He says more lives might be saved if cameras were hidden, not painted yellow.

His report suggests that cameras should not be predominantly concentrated on proven accident blackspots because it means more people will be killed on dangerous stretches of road which don't qualify for a camera because not enough people have died there to qualify for a camera.

Prof Stone's judgement on road humps indicates that councils should stop tearing them out, because evidence suggests that they are saving lives. But he urged that the concerns of ambulance services should be taken seriously.

The report was commissioned by the Today Programme from Mr Stone, an Emeritus Professor of Statistics and Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society. He took evidence over a two-month period from Robert Gifford supporting humps and cameras and Paul Smith, opposing. He cross-examined them both in a tribunal.

His report criticises the way Britain's statistics on cameras have been collected and analysed. He says when the camera programme was set up it should have been done as a scientific experiment so the benefits could be properly measured.

This failure means that the data from speed cameras has been sub-standard. That may have led independent analysts brought in to review government figures to take a somewhat optimistic view of the cameras' success.

Prof Stone says that better-conducted studies from Wales and Norway clearly show that cameras can save many lives. But the South Wales study also shows that visible cameras are only effective for a few hundred metres, while a New Zealand study suggests that hidden cameras are more effective.

He implies that the government should abandon the policy of painting cameras yellow and consider alternative ways of  using cameras. The report implicitly questions the government's decision to agree to road lobby demands to place 85% of cameras on sites where at least four people have been killed or seriously hurt in the past three years.

That means some roads got a speed camera because of crashes not definitely associated with speed, while other highly
dangerous roads won't qualify for a camera until enough people get killed.

The government said it had no plans to stop painting cameras yellow. It said the recent 3-year review of camera statistics was conducted by independent academics and consultants who reject the implication that their figures are distorted.

The government was challenged by both the contributors at the tribunal to increase the number of traffic police on the roads to catch bad driving. That plea has been regularly made by motoring groups and safety groups. It was amplified later by Richard Brunstrom the head of the traffic committee of the Association of Chief Police Officers, who said the Home Office had damaged road safety by removing traffic policing from the core duties of police forces. This has led to a downgrading of traffic policing.

Mr Brunstrom also agreed with Professor Stone and Mr Smith that official statistics on speed cameras had weaknesses.

This summary of the report and associated proceedings has been endorsed by Professor Stone.

Back to Reports Homepage

Latest Reports

Back to Latest Reports Homepage

Audio Archive
Missed a programme? Or would you like to listen again?
Try last 7 days below or visit the Audio Archive page:


Today | Listen Again | Latest Reports | Interview of the Week | About Today | Today at 50 | Have Your Say | Contact Today

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy