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Worcestershire speed cameras installed before an accident occurs – Good or bad?

With a change in the rules governing the use of speed cameras it is now possible to install speed cameras in areas where there is no history of accidents or deaths, but where there is a history or speeding. West Mercia Safer Roads Partnership is trialling this near a school in Great Witley in Worcestershire. This may be a controversial idea, but the initiative to help make it safer for children to cross the road near schools gets my support.

The AA is against such uses of speed cameras. An AA spokesman stated “as an organisation, we would be much happier if these cameras were kept for places with a proven record of accidents” and “How can you stop accidents on roads where there are no safety problems?” (1)

I disagree with the AA. The lack of history of collisions does not mean that there are no safety problems. I have seen many cars drive far in excess of speed limits past schools and nurseries where children need to cross the road, including where the driver is going over a zebra crossing. Many of these cars would have been incapable of stopping if a child had stepped out into the road or onto the crossing.

In this particular location 15% of vehicles passing the school in question, during term time were driving at 39mph which has to be a major concern.

It is fortunate that there may have not been any children killed, but we shouldn’t have to wait until there is a dead child before a speed camera is allowed to be used. Speeding past a school endangers the lives of the most vulnerable road users and needs to stop. I support the idea of installing speed cameras near schools where cars are regularly exceeding the speed limit.

I don’t think that speed cameras will prevent all the dangerous driving near schools, but at least it will help with the speed related risks. It will not help with the idiot drivers that speed up when approaching a zebra crossing to beat the pedestrians, drivers that drive across a zebra crossing when the pedestrian is half-way across or those that overtake cars that already waiting for pedestrians to cross. Unfortunately I’ve seen all of these at a zebra crossing near a school. Slowing vehicles down near schools will go some way to make it safer for children crossing the road.

The scheme is about addressing the concerns of the community and preventing injuries before they occur. I hope that the pilot is a success and that this can be extended to other schools around the UK.

(1) [source: Redditch Standard, 18 September 2009, page 7]