Number of accidents has dropped since Bristol speed cameras switched off
THE number of speeding tickets issued in Bristol since roadside cameras were switched off has dropped by more than two-thirds.
However, accidents have not gone up. In fact, the number of collisions on Avon and Somerset's roads has continued to fall.
Figures revealed by a Freedom of Information request to Avon and Somerset Police show that between 2010 and 2011 the number of tickets being handed out went down from 130,000 to 38,000 – a staggering 71 per cent drop.
In 2010, nearly 61,000 of the tickets were paid by fixed penalty – £60 and three penalty points. The figure in 2011 was nearly 25,000.
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The cameras were trumpeted as vital for making our roads safer in the face of critics claiming they were nothing more than cash-generators.
And yet, despite being switched off, the accident rate has fallen. Police confirmed there has been a 25 per cent decrease in collisions in the past three years.
And the head of Avon and Somerset police's road policing unit now admits that education – rather than prosecution via speed cameras – is the way to make our roads safer.
Hugh Bladon, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers, told the Post it proved that speed cameras had done nothing to make our roads safer.
He said: "The simple fact is that speed cameras have been a total distraction for the authorities and for drivers.
"They have distracted the authorities from looking at and taking action against the real causes of accidents, and they distract motorists into putting so much emphasis on speed, rather than looking at the way they are driving.
"The whole business of having speed cameras has been a complete and utter failure as far as road safety is concerned."
The Avon and Somerset safety camera partnership, which ran the cameras, was disbanded last year and the fixed cameras were turned off in March.
The move was condemned by the road safety charity Brake which said the council had "betrayed" the communities that relied on the cameras. Avon and Somerset police still operate mobile speed camera vans.
Ellen Booth, a senior campaigns officer at Brake, said: "Speed is one of the biggest killers on UK roads and puts the lives of all road users at risk.
"Reducing average speeds means fewer and less serious crashes.
"Our message to drivers is simple: speed limits are there to protect, so stay within them at all times, and slow down to 20mph in communities. It's the responsible, compassionate way to drive, giving you time to react in an emergency."
But Brian Macdowall, a spokesman from the Association of British Drivers, said: "The main causes of accidents are people not looking where they are going. Speeding is fifth or sixth on the list."
Chief Inspector John Holt, of Avon and Somerset's roads policing unit, said: "We continue to maintain a clear commitment to prevent excess speeding and reduce the number of people being killed and seriously injured on our roads, using robust speed enforcement by way of road policing officers, local patrol officers and mobile speed camera vans, which are tasked to where serious road traffic collisions have occurred or other key sites of concern.
"Serious casualties in Avon and Somerset have continued to fall beyond national trends – with a 25 per cent decrease in the past three years, compared to national reduction of 19 per cent.
"We take firm action against anyone caught speeding – either by prosecution, or a fixed penalty notice, or by being sent on a speed education course. However education rather than just prosecution has proved more effective in keeping our communities safe.
"Research has shown that when faced with the full impact and possible consequences of speeding, individuals are less likely to speed again.
"Those who speed should be aware that the mobile vans and police will be deployed to ensure road safety.
"The chances are that if you speed within Avon and Somerset you will be caught."