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Roads Policing - The Good the Bad and the Unacceptable - November 1st 2006


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    The BMF has welcomed the call by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee for more road policing, but says that the assumptions made over speed cameras are mistaken and the call for automatic vehicle speed control is unacceptable.

    The report, 'Roads Policing and Technology: Getting the Right Balance' published yesterday, has much to commend it say the BMF in that it says road policing should be more about deterrence than about 'maximising the numbers of drivers caught for offending'. The BMF has always maintained that visible policing of our roads is the best way to raise driving standards and that speed cameras are a crude substitute.

    The BMF agrees that drink driving, drug driving and mobile 'phone use are serious offences that drivers are getting away with due to a lack of traffic policing. Real world compliance, as the report says, needs real people to enforce our laws. As the report acknowledges, stopping a driver for an infringement or an offence is far more effective than an automated fine for a speeding offence. The BMF also welcomes the recommendation that mobile 'phone records are checked at the time of a road accident.

    But the Committee's views on speed cameras are disappointing say the BMF. While the BMF accepts that the higher the speed, the less time there is to react and the greater the severity of any accident, the committee fails to differentiate between exceeding marked speed limits and driving too fast for the prevailing conditions. This is the area where a police officer can make a considered judgement says the BMF.

    The preoccupation with the enforcement of speed limits is detracting from dealing with poor standards of driving say the BMF. The same applies to automatic vehicle speed control - the driver merely becomes an automaton, a passenger in the vehicle.

    Commenting on the report, BMF Government Relations Executive Richard Olliffe said: "Road safety should be about more than just keeping to speed limits. We accept that speed cameras have a role to play, but such equipment should only be regarded as a supplement to road policing and sited where there are known problems. They should act as a deterrent to the inappropriate use of speed and not used for traffic calming, revenue raising or boosting statistics of convictions for traffic offences. A warning by a police officer, with or without prosecution, is more educational than receiving a ticket through the post when the actual offence is probably long past."