Healthy living * First aid

Speed cameras save lives

Speed cameras do save lives Help reduce speed, accidents and deaths, study shows

Controversy has surrounded the use of traffic speed cameras ever since their introduction, with some claiming that they are just a mechanism for rasing revenue from drivers rather than life-savers, and other critics claiming that they don't actually make roads safer.

The first point was recently undermined by the fact that some English counties can no longer afford to operate the cameras after cuts in funding from the government. And now a new study has shown that speed cameras, as their proponents have long pointed out, do actually save lives.

Global health issue

This issue is of more than local interest - the World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 road traffic crashes will have moved from ninth to third in the rank of causes of poor health, and speed cameras are one of the few mechanisms that directly affect drivers' behaviour.

About the study

A team of researchers from the University of Queensland analysed 35 different studies of the effectiveness of speed cameras. In particular they looked for studies that had assessed the impact of speed cameras on speeding, road crashes, crashes causing injury and fatalities. Their work found that there was a definite positive impact of speed cameras.

Compared with controls, the average speed fell, as did the percentage of vehicles that exceeded local speed limits. The numbers of crashes in the areas of the cameras also fell, as did the numbers of people killed or injured.

Commenting on the results, study leader Cecilia Wilson said: "While there is variation in the results, the overall finding is clear – speed cameras do reduce injuries and deaths."

"Even though some of the studies were not conducted as carefully as others, the consistency in the way that vehicle speeds, crashes, road traffic injuries and deaths all reduced in places where speed cameras were operating shows that these cameras do a good job" she continued.

The impact of the speed cameras is important because they help to reduce the speed of driving - the key variable in the outcome of collisions. Faster vehicles are more likely to be involved in deadly crashes than slower ones.

The results of the study are published in The Cochrane Library.

This article was published on Wed 6 October 2010

Image © Paul Fleet -

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