Carrot or stick
PUBLISHED: 12:31 10 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 06 May 2010
SIR, — Herts County Councillor Stuart Pile says (Herts Advertiser, April 3) that the Herts Safety Camera Partnership does not make any money from fines, and that it does use some 90 vehicle activated signs (VAS) in addition to its 125 fixed camera housing
SIR, - Herts County Councillor Stuart Pile says (Herts Advertiser, April 3) that the Herts Safety Camera Partnership does not make any money from fines, and that it does use some 90 vehicle activated signs (VAS) in addition to its 125 fixed camera housings and 47 mobile camera sites.)
As to the safety argument for cameras, Eric Bridgstock dealt with that in the same edition and I agree with him that the safety argument is flawed.
As a driver I see VAS and safety cameras as two ways of tackling the same issue - one a carrot and the other a stick. I would argue that a carrot is generally more effective than a stick. If I drive on a road with a VAS - such as where I regularly drive in Abbots Langley - there is a very clear reminder to anyone exceeding the limit that they are so doing. A big red-and-white sign lights up and you can't miss it. The driver sees the VAS through the windscreen and does not need to glance down at his speedometer, thereby keeping his eye on the roads all the time.
My observation when in a stream of traffic on such roads is that if the lead vehicle activates a VAS it usually slows down, and then clearly slows all following traffic. This obviously meets Cllr Pile's objective of more people sticking to the limit.
On the other hand if I drive on a road with a safety camera, traffic may slow if the drivers observe the yellow painted camera, but what then happens is that drivers are distracted from keeping an eye on the road and glance down at their speedos. This increases the potential for an accident.
A very famous book on road accidents has recently been republished by Quinta Press. It is by J.J. Leeming and is called Road Accidents, prevent or punish? The commendation to the reprint, by Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, includes: "Leeming's book should be made compulsory reading for every politician, every police traffic officer and every civil servant working in the transport sector".
I commend it to Cllr Pile and his officers with the suggestion that after reading it they might like to change all Herts cameras to VAS thereby preventing accidents rather than punishing potential causes of accidents.
Forge End, St Albans.