Cameras versus Activated Signs

Updated 2nd March – files added

Overview of Seriously Misleading Comparison of Cameras and Signs

This section shows in detail how the DfT seriously misled the Transport Select Committee about the relative cost effectiveness of speed cameras and vehicle activated signs, how both the DfT and Transcom at first flatly denied that the figures were misleading and how I then forced them to admit that they were that far from being marginally more cost effective than signs, speed cameras are massively less cost effective.


Readers will no doubt come to their own conclusions about how and why the DfT submitted these blatantly false and seriously misleading figures to Transcom, why both then lied to me in writing (as these documents confirm), denying that the figures were misleading, why those in overall charge of speed cameras systematically and apparently deliberately skewed the cost effectiveness comparison by a factor of 50 to 1 in favour of cameras and how they could then claim, with straight faces that they could not reasonably have known that these absurd figures were wrong!

Readers might also wonder why, having first declared that because cameras were more cost effective than signs, we should have more of them, they later, having been forced to admit that in reality signs are massively more cost effective, that this makes no difference and that we should still have more cameras! As the late Paul Smith of Safe Speed repeatedly pointed out, they would sooner save face than save lives.

Over the years I have fought on these issues, alongside others from engineering backgrounds, I have been struck very forcibly by the fundamental difference between, on the one hand, those whose jobs and careers and indeed businesses rely not only on being right most of the time but also and perhaps more importantly - on admitting when they are wrong and fixing it without delay and, on the other hand those, especially in the public service, whose jobs and careers rely instead on avoiding at all costs admitting any errors, and instead on covering them up, regardless of the consequences for others and indeed of their statutory duty of care to those whom they serve.

My detailed review of this issue was included in Part F of my 2008 submission to Transcom, available under Camera Overview but for convenience also on its own here, with associated files all prefixed F.

Incidentally, when the accountant undertook an independent assessment of these cost effectiveness comparisons he told me that he could not believe that DfT figures could be wrong by some fifty to one that when he found that I was mistaken I would still have to pay for his time. Ten days later he telephoned to say that I had indeed been mistaken they were wrong by an even larger margin than I had thought!


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