Iain Dale (and other Conservative commentators) are exulting that “the war on the motorist” is to end.  He has been whipped into a state of frothing excitement by the story on the front page of today’s Sunday Times (hidden behind a pay wall, but Iain Dale helpfully reproduces most of the article – so he will presumably be in Rupert Murdoch’s bad books now) that suggests that speed cameras are to be abolished.

40% of the budgets of local road safety partnerships are to be cut and all over the country speed cameras are going to be switched off as a result.

While this is joyful news for the likes of Iain Dale – who has, he admits, nine points on his driving licence for driving too fast (so one more contravention would mean that he would be disqualified from driving) – it must be much less welcome news for the families of the more than 2000 individuals who are killed or seriously injured on the roads each year.

The Coalition Government is, of course, ignoring the evidence that this expenditure saves lives, such as the paper in the British Medical Journal which concluded:

“Existing research consistently shows that speed cameras are an effective intervention in reducing road traffic collisions and related casualties.”

It is also ignoring the local campaigns of its own Ministers, like the ubiquitous Lynne Featherstone MP who is campaigning for a 20mph zone throughout her constituency, who writes in her blog (quite sensibly for once, despite the italics):

Last year there were six deaths in Haringey – as well as injuries. One little girl, for example, had both legs broken and will never be able to do sport or such like again – in her life.

From evidence elsewhere, 20mph saves lives, reduces seriousness of injuries and cuts pollution. 20mph as a pan borough speed limit has the downside of being a blanket policy – but the big upside of being simple, uniform policy. It’s a common complaint of motorists that rules are too complicated and are enforced wrongly.”

And then she adds:

There would clearly be a need for enforcement to make sure that there was a penalty to not observing the limit.”

So how might this enforcement be managed efficiently?  Speed cameras, of course.  Which her Government now wants to stop using.

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