Two Disappointments in Two Days
On 28th June the DfT released the road casualty figures for 2006. Only car passenger deaths showed any significant improvement providing more evidence for the benefits of building safer cars, and the failure of the speed camera programme. The DfT admits that figures for injury accidents remain unreliable due to under-reporting, but still uses them to claim significant reductions in Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) casualties. A study published in the BMJ in June 2006 found little reduction in hospital admissions for serious injuries due to road traffic accidents, for the period 1996 to 2004, despite police statistics showing a 33 per cent reduction.
On 29th June judges at the ECHR ruled by a majority of 15 to 2 that motorists do not have the right to silence when asked to identify the driver of a vehicle caught by a speed camera. Only those accused of serious criminal offences have the right to silence. However, the judges pointed out that UK law makes it clear that no offence has been committed if a car owner can prove that he or she did not know who was driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence. Even this goes against the principle of innocent until proven guilty. How do you prove to the police that you can't remember? Anyone who genuinely can't remember is subjected to the threat of a higher penalty and fine in an effort to secure a conviction without evidence. Section 172 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act wasn't intended for use by a mass automated enforcement system via a speed camera policy that has severely weakened the link between what is safe and what is legal.
ABD Spokesman Nigel Humphries said,
"In the case of a multi-user vehicle, such as a family car, if you can't remember who was driving, and you can't convince the police that you can't remember, then you've effectively got to fit up a member of your family for the offence. If the police do that to someone suspected of a bank robbery the officers involved can quite rightly go to prison themselves, but in the case of a speeding ticket you have to conspire with the police to frame a member of your own family for an offence they may not have committed. The ABD will continue to campaign against the statistically bankrupt speed camera policy that has not only demonstrably failed to make roads safer, but has also removed many of the infinitely more useful traffic police officers from our roads, much to the delight of drunk and untraceable illegal drivers."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
DfT on under-reporting:
"Very few, if any, fatal accidents do not become known to the police. However, research conducted on behalf of the Department in the 1990's has shown that a significant proportion of non-fatal injury accidents are not reported to the police. In addition, some casualties reported to the police are not recorded and the severity of injury tends to be underestimated. The Department is undertaking further research to investigate whether the levels of reporting have changed."
Road Casualties in Great Britain: Main Results: 2006
Changes in safety on England's roads: analysis of hospital statistics
Notes for Editors about the ABD