Saturday, 2 June 2012

A serious scientific BW popularity test.

Its a time of celebration, its 20 years since the first speed camera was installed in London. Intended as a road safety measure. Which soon became a cash cow for greedy councils and police forces to take your wonga from your pocket with menaces.

Over the years there has been debate over the effectiveness of the cameras. It goes something like this - the road safety lobby claims them to be a wonder of the modern age and the vast majority of the general public some 98 percent are in favour. This is a bit like the British Waterways 98 percent figure that the general public thinks the inland waterways are a national treasure. As Mandy Rice Davies so famously said "He would say that wouldn't he." (there is a boating link here)

But the Anti-Speed Camera Lobby also did some research and discovered that much of the claims made were based on a poor grasp  (deliberate or otherwise) of mathematics and statistics. The main argument has long been that the state uses speed cameras to raise cash.

The cameras were supposed to be installed in accident black-spots and eight years later by the year 2000 there were around 1500 cameras in use.  All the revenue raised from speeding fines went directly to the Treasury.

In 2000 came a change and the police and local councils were allowed to keep the fines. It should come as no surprise to find that eight years later by the year 2008 there were over 5000 cameras installed. The government did another shuffle in 2007 and the local councils were not allowed to keep the money any more.

The number of installed cameras slowed to a trickle and recently has gone into decline. There are now less than 5,000  in place according to the sat-nav camera database. The majority are now configured as a passive deterrent and do not record speed any more. The sat-nav speed camera database had an amazing effect on the numbers of prosecutions falling dramatically.

Now that more research has been done over the years on accident rates at camera sites measured against accident rates at randomly selected sections of road. There was little evidence found that speed cameras actually cut accident rates.

I want to conduct a serious scientific test, this coming weekend. (2nd-3rd June) That I shall call the BW popularity test.  This weekend if you don't believe that speed cameras cut accident rates please put out bunting or fly the national flag on your home, car or boat.

* Mandy Rice-Davies  a former model and showgirl best known for her role in the Profumo affair and her association with Christine Keeler, which discredited the Conservative Government of British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1963. 
Some things apparently never change!
** Journalist Libby Purves, who had met Rice-Davies, invited her to join a female recreation on the River Thames of Jerome K. Jerome's comic novel Three Men in a Boat. This expedition was commissioned by the magazine Punch, the other members of the party being cartoonist Merrily Harpur and a toy Alsatian to represent Montmorency the dog. Purves has recounted how she "immediately spotted that this Rice-Davies was a woman to go up the Amazon with" and, among other things, that "only Mandy's foxy charm saved us from being evicted from a lock for being drunk on pink Champagne."
*** The BW Test is a Black or White test of two options either in favour or opposed to the postulation.


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