ARE SPEED CAMERAS GOOD FOR OUR HEALTH?

Issue date: 21 September 2004


ISSUE DATE: 21/09/04

Do speed camera’s prevent accidents and save money spent on Accident and Emergency Hospital admissions? This is a question that will be examined by researchers in the Centre for Public Health Research at the University of the West of England.

Working closely with the NHS, the police, the Avon, Somerset and Gloucestershire Safety Camera Partnership and South West Public Health Observatory the researchers will look at data to identify any correlations between driving speed, collisions and hospital admissions. The project is funded by the Avon, Somerset and Gloucestershire Safety Camera Partnership.

The Project Manager is Dr Selena Grey who will work with researcher Karen Johnson and Centre Director, Dr Judy Orme in UWE’s Centre for Public Health Research. Dr Orme said, “We will access statistical data from the Hospital Episodes Statistics, Accident and Emergency department data and Stats 19 (police) data to examine the role that speed plays in road traffic accidents. We want to find out if speed cameras prevent accidents and reduce costs to the NHS.

“Speed is recognised as an important contributory factor to road traffic collisions. Speed cameras are increasingly being used as a tool to slow traffic down and reduce the number and severity of collisions. Cameras thereby play an important role in improving health. More integrated use of health and road safety data will allow the effects of speed cameras on the NHS to be explored in greater depth.”

The data from these sources has not previously been correlated in this way. The researchers will look at historical data before speed cameras were introduced and compare this with data collected once the speed cameras were put into place. The team will also investigate compatibility of data collection systems in order to integrate the information.

Dr Orme continues, “We are particularly interested in the outcomes as speed cameras get a lot of bad press as they are currently perceived as traps or money spinners. We think that public perception could be reversed if we can prove that they have a positive impact on health. It took a national campaign to encourage people to wear seat belts – if the data shows that slowing down is good for our health perhaps people will be less critical of speed cameras that enforce this through imposition of penalties.”

The 18 month project starts in September 2004.

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