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UK Department for Transport reports threefold undercount of road accidents during the speed camera era.

DfT report coverFor the past several years, the UK Department for Transport (DfT) has heralded the drop in the number of serious traffic accidents as evidence of the success of its speed camera policies. For the first time, the agency admitted last Thursday that injury numbers have dropped because its statistical method is incomplete. Although DfT reported 230,905 injury accidents took place in 2008, the agency now believes the true number of accidents is actually three times greater.

“Our best current estimate, derived from survey data with cross-checking against other data sources, is that the total number of road casualties in Great Britain each year, including those not reported to police, is within the range 680 thousand to 920 thousand with a central estimate of 800 thousand,” Matthew Tranter with DfT’s Road Safety Research and Statistics wrote.

In July, the UK Statistics Authority ordered DfT to reform its procedures in light of evidence that the department’s data showed far fewer injuries than reported from hospital admission records. The government has placed an emphasis on showing reductions in accidents and injuries as evidence that its road safety strategies have been successful.

“These statistics are used to inform public debate and support policy on road safety,” the DfT annual report on road accidents explained.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) was first to show that, contrary to DfT’s former assertion, injury accidents were not decreasing (view 2006 BMJ study). DfT claimed road injury rate fell from 85.9 per 100,000 in 1996 (before cameras) to 59.4 in 2004 (after cameras), but hospital admission records showed that the road injury rate actually increased slightly from 90.0 in 1996 to 91.1 in 2004. The DfT’s report last week included a chart showing the discrepancy between hospital records (HES) and the DfT’s STATS19 data began in 1997 (view full chart, page 64).

“There is, however, some evidence that the proportion of casualties admitted to hospital and known to police that were misclassified by the police as slightly injured increased marginally between 1999 and 2004,” the DfT report stated (page 67).

The governmental focus on using automated enforcement also relies on an exclusive focus on “speeding” as the primary cause of road accidents. The DfT data show that, in fact, exceeding the posted speed limit — the only factor that can be measured by a speed camera — rarely causes accidents.

“Exceeding speed limit was attributed to 3 per cent of cars involved in accidents, while traveling too fast for conditions was attributed to 5 per cent,” the report stated (page 46). “For fatal accidents these figures are both 8 per cent.”

The report admits that traffic calming devices designed to force motorists to reduce their speed in some cases caused accidents. Speed bumps and chicanes killed six motorists and caused 176 accidents, according to DfT figures (page 44).

A full copy of the DfT report is available in a 5mb PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2008 (UK Department for Transport, 9/24/2009)

If you say $200 billion quickly it really doesn’t sound like that much.
From Ross Greenwood of Money News

Right now the Federal Government is at pains to tell everyone ˆ
including us the mug-punters to the International Monetary Fund – that it
will not exceed its own, self-imposed, borrowing limits. How much? $200 billion.
And here’s a worry. If you work in a bank’s money market operation; or if you are a
politician; the millions turn into billions and it rolls off the tip of the tongue a bit too easily.

But every dollar that is borrowed, some time, has to be repaid. By you,
by me, and by the rest of the country.

Just after 5 o’clock tonight I did a bit of maths for Jason Morrison.
But it’s so staggering its worth repeating now. First though … here’s
what Chairman Rudd has been saying about – what he calls – these
temporary borrowings. Remember those words … temporary deficit . But
the total Government debt could end up around $200 billion.

So here’s a very basic calculation … I used a home loan calculator to
work it out … it’s that simple.

$200 billion is $200,000 million. The current 10 year Government bond
rate is 4.67 per cent. I worked the loan out over a period of 20 years.

Now here’s where it gets scary … really scary.

The repayments on $200 billion come to more than one and a quarter
billion dollars – every month – for 20 years. It works out we – as
taxpayers – will be repaying $15.4 billion in interest and principal
every year … $733 for every man woman and child – every year.

The total interest bill over the 20 years is – get this – $108 billion.

And remember, this is a Government that just 18 months ago had NO debt ..
NO debt. In fact it had enough money to create the Future Fund to pay
The future liabilities of public servants’ superannuation … And it had
enough to stick $20 billion into the Building Australia Fund last year
….

Ross Greenwood

Alan Jones Comment

……… A note that was sent to me which explains to me that the six
Leading members of the Government from Mr. Rudd down, the top six have a
collective work experience of 181 years, but only 13 in the private
Sector.
If you take out of those 13 years the number that were spent as trade
union lawyers, that totals 11, of the 181 years only two years were spent
In the private sector.

So the people who will rack up a net Federal debt of a minimum of $188
billion, the highest in our history, have virtually no experience in
business.

So out of 181 years:

- no years spent running their own business
- no years spent starting their own business
- no years spent as a director of a family business or a company
- no years as a director of a public company
- no years in a senior position in a public company
- no years in a senior position in a private company
- no years working in corporate finance
- no years in corporate or business restructuring
- no years working in or with a bank
- no years of experience in the capital markets
- no years in a stock-broking firm
- no years in negotiating debt facilities with banks
- no years running a small business
- no years at the World Bank or IMF or OECD
- no years in Treasury or Finance.

But these people have plunged Australia into unprecedented debt, and now
threaten to torpedo employee share schemes which they plainly don’t
understand.

Well, in a way you can’t blame them. It’s clear that the electorate did
not do their homework, because the Government is there by right.

They were given a thumping majority to lead the country. It’s just that
no one seemed to ask, most of all the press gallery in Canberra , in
what direction?

SPEED-CAMERA operations look set to be privatised in WA, prompting fears that profiteering might overtake road-safety priorities.

Police Minister Rob Johnson revealed yesterday that his staff had been involved in “introductory meetings” with British firm Serco, which wanted to run WA’s multimillion-dollar speed-camera operations.

Mr Johnson admitted that privatising speed and red-light operations was on the Barnett Government’s agenda and was supported by Police Commissioner Karl O’Callaghan.

But the plan has already drawn fire from the Opposition, which claims that putting the personal details of thousands of WA motorists in the hands of a private operator is unwise.

“The Government would also need to retain control of the placement of the cameras to ensure that the private operator was not able to place them solely based on revenue,” Opposition road safety spokeswoman Margaret Quirk said.

“Decisions on where cameras go can’t be based on revenue making, but public safety.”

There are also worries that innocent motorists could be slapped with fines.

In Victoria, Tenix Solutions was stripped of a multimillion-government contract in 2007 after a string of bungles. More than 1100 speeding tickets were wrongly issued.

In some cases cameras were incorrectly calibrated or set up near objects that caused interference.

“Given the recent Wilson car park debacle, where the personal details of thousands of drivers were handed over to private commercial interests, it is vital that any plan for the privatisation of speed-fine processing include strong privacy safeguards.”

Mr Johnson said work on a plan to privatise speed camera operations had started.

There are 27 analogue Multanovas in WA. The number will more than double over the next few months and police will purchase several integrated red-light and speed-camera systems.

REVENUE from speeding fines is expected to almost triple when new so-called “super cameras” are rolled out from July 30.

The 30 new speed cameras, able to take photographs of the front and back of vehicles, will be in place by the middle of the year. That will effectively double the number of Multanovas on Perth’s roads.

Coupled with extra revenue from new red light cameras, the total windfall from speeding fines is expected to skyrocket from $40 million to $112 million.

Opposition police spokeswoman Margaret Quirk has described the new cameras as a blatant money grab.

The new super cameras are expected to catch more motorcyclists with the new technology.

In 2007, Serco was awarded a $150 million contract to operate Victoria’s traffic-camera system for seven years, staffing and managing the state’s mobile speed cameras, red light cameras and CityLink cameras.

Tenix still enforces traffic fines.

A Serco spokeswoman said it was “interested in partnering with the (Barnett) Government and police to deliver the traffic-camera program in WA”.

“We are already providing a range of services to the WA Government, so we undertake regular meetings with them,” the spokeswoman said.

NSW Transport Minister, Mr David Campbell, will today announce details of a $170 million package aimed at lowering the state’s road toll.

As part of the package, the NSW government will reintroduce mobile speed cameras. The cameras will be placed in unmarked cars parked beside the road and will be operated by civilian contractors, similar to those already operating across the border in Victoria.

The NSW government says it will make the possible locations of its roadside cameras known via the RTA website, but hopes motorists will slow down regardless of whether a camera is present or not.

The $170 million road safety budget also allows $50 million for repairs and upgrades to accident blackspot areas, a $50 million audit of six main highways and an increase in speeding fines by five per cent.

Truck safety will receive $9 million with a trial of electronic work diaries for truck drivers among the new measures. It is hoped the diaries will improve fatigue management among long-haul drivers.

Six mobile speed camera units will begin operating state-wide from July 19th.

New speed camera figures show an 80-per-cent increase in fines issued in some parts of Victoria.

The figures obtained by the Opposition show motorists were booked more than 155,000 times in the last three months of 2009.

The Opposition’s roads spokesman, Terry Mulder, says the figures were forecast in last year’s state budget.

He says they show blatant revenue raising tactics, and the Premier, John Brumby, must explain.

“John Brumby’s budget in 08, 09, shows $397 million in speeding fines, then they predict in 09, 010, for it to jump to $437 million,” he said.

“Some parts of the state, Mornington Peninsula, Frankston, have jumped up by over 80 per cent.”

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