Oxfordshire councillors are well on the way to making their first big cuts as part of the coalition Government’s plan to make inroads into the national debt this year.

The network of county speed cameras is an easy first target. While they have become an accepted feature of our roads, they are not loved. What is more, they are frequently perceived as an easy way for councils to make money.

This decision puts a lie to that perception. Far from making easy money for local authorities, they are actually a cost.

The revenue from speeding fines goes straight to Whitehall and does not fill local coffers.

Ironically, in demanding cuts of local authorities, Whitehall could see the drying up of a significant revenue stream of its own. One imagines that many other local highway authorities will see this as an easy cut to make.

The question they, and many others, will ask is: “Will the reduction in camera enforcement make any difference to safety on our roads?”

These cuts are not to the entire enforcement programme but are a significant proportion of it. One presumes it means that the chances of being caught by a camera if you speed are less — but there is still a chance you will be caught.

Over in Swindon, where camera enforcement was ended about 11 months ago, the council says there has been no increase in accidents.

It is, of course, still too early to tell. We do not doubt that the arrival of speed cameras had an impact on driver behaviour. It is evident that drivers do now tend to stick to the limits much more than they used to, particularly where they know cameras are in operation.

Indeed, on motorways, the use of average speed cameras through roadworks has virtually put an end to any drivers doing excessive speeds at these points.

It is possible that, over time, some drivers will become less cautious about their speed if they perceive that there is little or no chance of them being caught.

Casualties have been falling on our roads over the last few decades. There may be many reasons for that and it would be foolish to discount greater speed enforcement as one of them.

At the very least, they have played their part in changing driver habits and raising consciousness about the need to drive safely.

Most drivers do drive safely most of the time, but we all need to be reminded of the importance of doing so.

Ensuring road safety in all its aspects is not something any local authority should take lightly.