Written by Bunty

Wednesday, 16 June 2004

image for Revealed: Speed Cameras - The Official Government Policy
A speed camera yesterday

A Government paper leaked to The Spoof has shown that speed cameras have been highly concentrated in certain areas, so as to deliberately cause more road accidents in others.

In a recent report published by University College London, the number of people killed or seriously injured at speed camera sites has fallen by 40% in recent years. Yet critics have been critical saying that the total number of road traffic accidents in the UK has stayed fairly static during the same period. "Drivers simply slow down in an area with lots of speed cameras and then speed up again once they have cleared them," said Mark McArthur-Christie, the safety spokesman for the Association of British Drivers. "This is inevitably leads to the concentration of accidents in specific areas."

The government paper reveals that the creation of such "accident hotspots" is no accident. They talk of both long term and short term benefits to the creation of such hotspots:

"It is the government's position that once there has been a significant increase in the number of fatal or near fatal accidents on a specific area of a specific road, a fear factor will kick in. This will cause drivers to eventually start slowing down as the area becomes increasingly notorious as being an accident hotspot."

The paper goes on to cite the works of renowned social scientist, Professor Stephen Stepanov who has developed what is being called the RTA Kuznet's Curve. The curve shows how average car speeds will increase steadily in an area devoid of speed cameras, until there are approximately 150 serious accidents per year, at which point speeds will start levelling off and then gradually decrease, hopefully resulting in a fall in the number of accidents in the long term. Although no pictures are available, Stepanov said that when mapped out on a graph, the curve resembles an upside down "u" although sources close to the government believe it might look more like a shallow "n".

In addition to the long term safety benefits, the government paper argues that the creation of accident hotspots will also have short term benefits in terms of raising revenues. The idea is that as an area becomes increasingly known as an accident hotspot, spectators will flock to watch as drivers gamble with their lives:

"There is the potential to tap into the market of disgruntled Formula 1 fans who have grown bored of the sport due to recent safety improvements. Local Councils could erect grandstands and start charging people to watch cars at accident hotspots. Any funds raised can be used for local regeneration projects or more favourably to line the pockets of a few".

The revelations are likely to cause more widespread controversy given that speed cameras are already a sensitive issue. Unfortunately at the time of going to press no official government spokesman was prepared to make any comment, although The Spoof did manage to get a response from a junior fisheries minister who told us "I have no comment to make".

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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