Thursday, November 02, 2006

Too many cameras?

We even have a car advert now which draws attention to the fact that 'you're caught on someone's camera 200 times every day' and advises you to buy a Peugeot to 'give them something to look at.'

This news item from Sky (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/02112006/140/britons-most-spied-world.html) is worth a read. Speed cameras, CCTV everywhere - are they just a cheap substitute for policemen? Do they really deter criminals or merely provide the authorities with a cover for their growing failure to tackle crime and disorder while infringing the personal freedom and privacy of citizens who are merely going about 'their lawful occasions'?

2 comments:

Jon Fray said...

Re: Speed cameras and red light cameras. Are you suggesting there are too many of them Paul? I believe that they are very effective in redcuing the number of casualties on our roads. As far as I can see the biggest possible infringement of personal freedom is when a speeding drivers kill.

Paul Johnston said...

Yes Jon, I am suggesting there are too many of them and they may be less effective in reducing casualties than you think. Research shows that a motorist who spots a camera routinely takes his/her eyes off the road 3 times while passing it in order to check the speedometer. Most drivers actually gauge speed by things like the engine note, the sensation of movement in relation to objects seen around them and other vehicles and obeying the fundamental rule that one must always be able to stop within one's seeing distance. Driving without due care and attention is a prime cause of accidents and driving with the eyes on the speedo rather than the road is a significant contributor to that. The flash from a camera can also temporarily virtually blind an oncoming motorist. I speak from experience. Moreover, some cameras at least are there to raise revenue for local Constabularies who are allowed to keep some of the proceeds raised in fines.
To slow speeding motorists down, I find the most effective mechanism is the 'smiley' sign, which relays your speed back to you as you approach, without blinding you or causing distraction from what's going on on the road.