Speed Cameras: Life savers or money makers?

Recently in some UK counties, fixed speed cameras have been switched off due to cost cutting. In some states in Australia they have been introduced (WA being the newest recipient). If they save lives, why switch them off? If they don’t save lives, why have them?

Do speed cameras really save lives?

Research in the UK has shown that there has been a 70% reduction in speeding at fixed speed camera sites (caradvice.com.au). However, what is to say that people don’t just speed up again after they pass the camera? After all, they know where they are situated.

Then I got thinking, do people slow down near speed cameras because they want to save lives, or because they don’t want to be fined? I think in most cases you’ll find it to be the latter. That really shouldn’t be the main motivation behind slowing down and watching the speedo- it should be that you don’t want to take an innocent life.

On the other hand, at least these cameras get people to slow down. That’s got to be better then nothing, right?

Perhaps something else needs to be done to get the message across. Speed cameras aren’t just there to punish you; they are trying to make the roads safer.

Maybe they cause more harm then good?

              “Cameras can actually cause accidents because some drivers
               erratically brake as they approach a camera site and accelerate
               quickly after passing it.”
Telegraph UK

How many times have you had to slam on your breaks because the person in front has done so in order to avoid being flashed by a camera? Or maybe you have been that person in front? What about driving down a road watching the bushes on the side, as you know they usually have a speed camera hidden there.

This makes for some dangerous driving in already hazardous areas. Speed cameras are supposed to prevent this.

Money grabbing devices?

Recently in some states, speed cameras have been outsourced to private companies. Some people are of the opinion that speed cameras are more a source of revenue then a life saving implementation.

               “The NSW government has announced plans to introduce
                privately operated and unmarked mobile speed cameras 
                to the state’s roads in a bid to boost revenue.”

Apparently the reason that they are outsourced is that it is cheaper, and also allows police resources to be used in other operations. But should it be outsourced to regular citizens? Is it not something that the police should be in charge of?

If it is a revenue boosting change, one would hope that this extra money was going back into road safety initiatives and not into the pockets of private companies.

Maybe speed cameras are the answer, maybe they are not. One thing that is for sure is that they cannot work alone to save lives. Better driver education and training are needed for people to understand the underlying reason for not speeding in the first place. Drivers need to be constantly reminded that the consequences of speeding are more then a speed fine and demerit points, it’s peoples lives and a possible jail sentence.

Although this is a topic that one could talk about for some time, I don’t want to go on and on, so here are a few extra points:

  • Are speed cameras in random locations a better idea then fixed ones? If people truly don’t want to get caught they will always be doing the right speed.
  • Really, you do deserve to be fined if you are speeding. At the end of the day you are breaking the law.
  • If they are switching off fixed cameras to save money, why not turn 80% off and keep 20% on, but make them random.  This way people never know if they are live or not, therefore always watching their speed in the ‘dangerous’ areas.

What are your thoughts on speed cameras? Are you for or against them?

Please share your comments and answers below.

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