Sunday, 4 December 2011
It's been a bad week for those who care about journalism and the national media. We could have hoped for better standards from the local press. Proper investigative journalism is rarely done by local papers these days, so when a journalist does do a bit of mild research we might hope for something better than quoting dodgy propaganda unchecked. The Star has printed an article saying that it has uncovered evidence through a Freedom of Information request about speed cameras. So far so good but to rely heavily on the interpretation of a group called “Safe Speed” is disingenuous to say the least. There is plenty of evidence easily available (without needing FoI legislation) that this pressure group, whose comments it quotes uncritically in that article, is fraudulently masquerading as a road safety organisation while lobbying for speed cameras to be banned. In doing so it panders to the sense of grievance of motorists who’ve been fined when they could have avoided the expense by driving within the limit.
The Star article gives some statistics it has obtained concerning accidents near speed cameras and the amount of money raised in fines. The money from fines incidentally does not go to the body responsible for setting up the cameras. It goes to central government. The local authority which decides where cameras go is not allowed to use revenue from fines and it costs money to run the cameras, something not made clear in the article. It’s something of a sop to balance at the very end to put in a quote from Simon Geller of Cycling Sheffield. By then the calculation is that the message has struck home.
The point of the article is an attempt to show that statistics on accidents in the vicinity of speed cameras shows that they have little effect. They particularly quote the one on Ecclesall Road just below the Ringinglow Road junction where there have been more collisions since the camera was installed.
It could be said that if the camera was not there and car speeds had been consequently even faster injuries would have been worse. Surely if there is one place where you would be likely to recommend firm enforcement of speed limits it’s here. Standing at the bus stop just below the camera feels at times as if you are risking your life. On the other side of the road leading out of Sheffield, where there is no camera, speeds are frequently excessive leading sometimes to a grand prix atmosphere from the top of Banner Cross westwards and frequent overtakings on the inside lane. Would anyone seriously suggest removing this camera?