Speed camera data 'misleading'

The speed camera on the A44 in Woodstock near the gates of Blenheim Palace

Woodstock town councillor Peter Jay

County council leader Keith Mitchell

First published in News by

SPEED camera bosses have been accused of misleading the public over claims more motorists are speeding since the cameras were switched off on August 1.

Last week, Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership said a roadside camera on the A44 in Woodstock had seen an 18.3 per cent increase in speed offences since the switch-off compared to the average number caught this year.

At the same time a radar inside a second camera in Watlington Road, Cowley, registered an 88 per cent rise in offences when compared with figures in 2008 and 2009.

The partnership said the figures for 2010 were not available, as the camera had been switched off due to roadworks.

When the Oxford Mail requested 2008-9 data for the Woodstock camera – to make an equal comparison to the Watlington Road camera – the partnership said the figures were not readily to hand.

Now, the Oxford Mail having obtained the information, the figures actually show speed offences fell by four per cent when comparing the figures since the switch-off to offences in 2008-9.

All the county’s speed cameras were switched off after Oxfordshire County Council withdrew funding.

Within days the partnership released its statistics, alth-ough spokesman Dan Campsall warned: “These are very limited results from just two locations.

“However, if this is a trend that grows across Oxfordshire it is very worrying indeed.”

Woodstock town councillor and former mayor Peter Jay said: “(These figures) are lies, damn lies and statistics.

“It’s always wrong if anyone misuses figures and if a public authority misuses them it’s not only wrong but a disgrace.”

Mark McArthur Christie, the chairman of the Oxford group of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “People have been very accepting of partnership statistics in the past and taken them at face value.

“If this gets people questioning camera stats that’s a good thing. The problem for the partnership is once people feel misled they feel reluctant to believe you a second time.”

Mr Campsall insisted there was no deliberate attempt to mislead the public about the figures.

“I don’t think there’s anything we have done that is disgraceful or lies and damn lies.

“As we have always maintained, these remain limited data sets and there is a great deal more study that will need to be undertaken to determine what the increased risk at decommissioned camera sites is.”

He said the inconsistency in the figures arose because the partnership were evaluating speeding data for a live broadcast on Radio 4 and wanted to get the most recent set of data prior to the decommissioning of cameras in 2010 to show the impact of the switch-off.

However due to road works the Watlington Road camera had not been in operation this year so the partnership has to use historic figures from 2008 and 2009 instead of the 2010 comparison for Woodstock.

The county council is doing its own survey of speed across the county.

Council leader Keith Mitchell said: “This does back up what I have been saying that we have got to wait a while to get some real information on this and when we do get it it has to be consistent with what we are comparing.

“I’m not an expert in this, I’m a finance person at heart and for us this decision has been about our finances and cutting the cameras or cutting children’s services.”

  • CAMERA FIGURES
  • Watlington Road, Oxford

2008 and 2009 average offences per day: 6.6

No data for 2010.

2010 Dummy radar camera offences: 12.4

Percentage rise = 88 per cent.

  • A44 Woodstock

2008 and 2009 average offences per day: 22.8

Average 2010 offences per day: 18.6

2010 Dummy radar camera offences: 22

Percentage fall (compared with 2008/9) = four per cent.

Comments (7)

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2:16pm Thu 19 Aug 10

benjamin says...

Statistics can be made to say whatever the statastician wants them too. Unfortunately these figures have been released all over the country. This could put off other counties that maybe thinking of shutting their cameras down.
Statistics can be made to say whatever the statastician wants them too. Unfortunately these figures have been released all over the country. This could put off other counties that maybe thinking of shutting their cameras down. benjamin
  • Score: 0

5:11pm Thu 19 Aug 10

LadyPenelope says...

Too many guillable people believe statistics...
And a cunning plan to turn the A44 speed camera to face the other way for the first time in months and months!
Too many guillable people believe statistics... And a cunning plan to turn the A44 speed camera to face the other way for the first time in months and months! LadyPenelope
  • Score: 0

9:02pm Thu 19 Aug 10

Major County says...

There is plenty of empirical evidence that suggests accident rates were falling prior to the introduction of safety cameras and have merely continued to fall at similar rates since their introduction.
The Safer Roads Partnership has a vested interest in misusing statistics to scare-monger. People need to be aware that there are a lot of jobs dependent on safety cameras and anything to justify them including fabricating evidence appears fair game.
There is plenty of empirical evidence that suggests accident rates were falling prior to the introduction of safety cameras and have merely continued to fall at similar rates since their introduction. The Safer Roads Partnership has a vested interest in misusing statistics to scare-monger. People need to be aware that there are a lot of jobs dependent on safety cameras and anything to justify them including fabricating evidence appears fair game. Major County
  • Score: 0

11:53am Mon 23 Aug 10

Hugh Jaeger says...

Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership has stuck scrupulously to the rules for speed cameras, installing them only at sites where there was a strong safety case for casualty reduction. Partnerships in most other counties in the South East Region, including Sussex and Kent, have also been scrupulously fair.

Safety cameras are not there tro make a profit. Thames Valley and most other SE regional partnerships have tended to work closely in partnership with county and unitary road safety staff, aplying any surplus revenue from safety cameras to other engineering or education projects to reduce casualties.

Camera partnerships in some counties in other regions may have been less scrupulous, bending the rules to install cameras more to satisfy neighbourhood politics or raise revenue. There are also camera partrnerships that have failed to integrate enough with council road safety staff in their areas and have instead pursued parallel casualty reduction almost in a world of their own. Niether of these bad practices should be allowed to reflect on Thames Valley SRP.

The only people who "profit" from safety cameras are the small coterie of companies that design and manufacture the cameras. A handful of companies such as Gatso and Serco have an oligopoly that needs to be opened up with more competition and tighter cost control.
Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership has stuck scrupulously to the rules for speed cameras, installing them only at sites where there was a strong safety case for casualty reduction. Partnerships in most other counties in the South East Region, including Sussex and Kent, have also been scrupulously fair. Safety cameras are not there tro make a profit. Thames Valley and most other SE regional partnerships have tended to work closely in partnership with county and unitary road safety staff, aplying any surplus revenue from safety cameras to other engineering or education projects to reduce casualties. Camera partnerships in some counties in other regions may have been less scrupulous, bending the rules to install cameras more to satisfy neighbourhood politics or raise revenue. There are also camera partrnerships that have failed to integrate enough with council road safety staff in their areas and have instead pursued parallel casualty reduction almost in a world of their own. Niether of these bad practices should be allowed to reflect on Thames Valley SRP. The only people who "profit" from safety cameras are the small coterie of companies that design and manufacture the cameras. A handful of companies such as Gatso and Serco have an oligopoly that needs to be opened up with more competition and tighter cost control. Hugh Jaeger
  • Score: 0

8:58am Tue 24 Aug 10

Major County says...

Hugh Jaeger makes some sound points regarding the political dimensions of speed enforcement. However there are better ways of achieving casualty reduction than imposing disproportionate penalties on motorists who stray just above the 10% speed limit tolerance. The issue regarding casualty reduction is not speed per se, but inappropriate speed relative to the road conditions and poor driving standards which go unpunished. Highway Engineering solutions should be used at what used to be termed as "black spots", i.e. local widening, road re-design, etc. The police have a role in re-educating drivers where they observe poor driving standards.
It's too easy to rely on static and mobile speed cameras but that doesn't address the fundamental issue of poor driving. Personally I don't have an axe to grind as I've never been caught by a speed camera, however the fact that Oxfordshire has ceased using them will not mean that I will drive faster past the static sites just because I can.
Hugh Jaeger makes some sound points regarding the political dimensions of speed enforcement. However there are better ways of achieving casualty reduction than imposing disproportionate penalties on motorists who stray just above the 10% speed limit tolerance. The issue regarding casualty reduction is not speed per se, but inappropriate speed relative to the road conditions and poor driving standards which go unpunished. Highway Engineering solutions should be used at what used to be termed as "black spots", i.e. local widening, road re-design, etc. The police have a role in re-educating drivers where they observe poor driving standards. It's too easy to rely on static and mobile speed cameras but that doesn't address the fundamental issue of poor driving. Personally I don't have an axe to grind as I've never been caught by a speed camera, however the fact that Oxfordshire has ceased using them will not mean that I will drive faster past the static sites just because I can. Major County
  • Score: 0

5:26pm Wed 25 Aug 10

Hugh Jaeger says...

Road users do not "stray" above the speed limit. They exceed it by either intention or inattention, both of which are culpable negligence. We've all done it; I'm not claiming any moral superiority; but none of us should claim we did it "innocently".
`
One vehicle exceeding the prevailing speed of other traffic, even by only a few percent or MPH, greatly increases the risk of that vehicle being involved in a collision. The reason may be psychological: one observes and adjusts to the prevailing traffic speed, but a vehicle going significantly faster (or slower) may catch the observer unawares. Hence the 10% to which Major County refers may cause a large percentage increase in risk.
`
In a 30 MPH limit, each additional 1 MPH increases by about 4% the likelihood that a pedestrian or cyclist colliding with that vehicle would be killed or seriously injured. Exceeding the 30 MPH limit by 10% therefore increases by 12% the risk that such an injury would be fatal or serious.
`
However, the argument about percentage deviation from the prevailing traffic speed may also apply to drivers who dawdle. Plenty of people drive at 45-50 MPH in 60 MPH limits, not only where hazards merit such speeds but also on open stretches with plenty of visibility to drive at 60. This behaviour is lawful but significantly hazardous, as it causes many "frustration overtakes" by other drivers who equally lawfully want to make quicker progress.
`
Curiously, I have seen hundreds of people who dawdle in 60 MPH limits also break 30 MPH limits. Hence I don't believe such drivers are cautious or timid. They are merely bad or inattentive.
`
Oxfordshire CC may have made things worse by reducing many 60 MPH roads to 50 MPH. Inattentive, mediocre drivers may now be more confused than ever about what speed limit applies to which two-lane road!
Road users do not "stray" above the speed limit. They exceed it by either intention or inattention, both of which are culpable negligence. We've all done it; I'm not claiming any moral superiority; but none of us should claim we did it "innocently". ` One vehicle exceeding the prevailing speed of other traffic, even by only a few percent or MPH, greatly increases the risk of that vehicle being involved in a collision. The reason may be psychological: one observes and adjusts to the prevailing traffic speed, but a vehicle going significantly faster (or slower) may catch the observer unawares. Hence the 10% to which Major County refers may cause a large percentage increase in risk. ` In a 30 MPH limit, each additional 1 MPH increases by about 4% the likelihood that a pedestrian or cyclist colliding with that vehicle would be killed or seriously injured. Exceeding the 30 MPH limit by 10% therefore increases by 12% the risk that such an injury would be fatal or serious. ` However, the argument about percentage deviation from the prevailing traffic speed may also apply to drivers who dawdle. Plenty of people drive at 45-50 MPH in 60 MPH limits, not only where hazards merit such speeds but also on open stretches with plenty of visibility to drive at 60. This behaviour is lawful but significantly hazardous, as it causes many "frustration overtakes" by other drivers who equally lawfully want to make quicker progress. ` Curiously, I have seen hundreds of people who dawdle in 60 MPH limits also break 30 MPH limits. Hence I don't believe such drivers are cautious or timid. They are merely bad or inattentive. ` Oxfordshire CC may have made things worse by reducing many 60 MPH roads to 50 MPH. Inattentive, mediocre drivers may now be more confused than ever about what speed limit applies to which two-lane road! Hugh Jaeger
  • Score: 0

7:52am Sat 28 Aug 10

Insight says...

On and on goes the percentage argument, meanwhile an ever increasing segment of society opt out of the outdated twentieth century speed trap concept altogether by using twenty first century dashboard devices and even smart phones.
This is adequately demonstrated right across the country (if not the world) by the plummeting camera fine revenue and this is why councils up and down the land are opting out of the promised revenue gravy train now that it has become an on-cost to everyone’s council taxes.
Or in other words, all this is irrelevant, the antiquated speed camera is being outsmarted and therefore the whole argument, concept, policy is not fit for purpose.
On and on goes the percentage argument, meanwhile an ever increasing segment of society opt out of the outdated twentieth century speed trap concept altogether by using twenty first century dashboard devices and even smart phones. This is adequately demonstrated right across the country (if not the world) by the plummeting camera fine revenue and this is why councils up and down the land are opting out of the promised revenue gravy train now that it has become an on-cost to everyone’s council taxes. Or in other words, all this is irrelevant, the antiquated speed camera is being outsmarted and therefore the whole argument, concept, policy is not fit for purpose. Insight
  • Score: 0

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