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Those annoying speed cameras actually help protecting people’s property from criminals

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Posted February 22, 2019

Drivers don’t like speed cameras. They are sometimes places in areas where people are more likely to break speeding rules and not in areas that are prone to accidents. However, a new study from the University of British Columbia showed that automated speed enforcement doesn’t just reduce collisions – it helps reduce crime.

Speed cameras represent authority in the area and deter potential criminals. Image credit: Annisi via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

If placed correctly, speed cameras do help reducing the number of collisions. People are forced to drive slower and more attentively to avoid getting a fine. Numerous studies have shown that such automated speed enforcement measures do help reducing the number of traffic accidents, but who would’ve thought that they can also reduce crime? Scientists analysed traffic-related data, collected between 2013 and 2015 in Edmonton in Canada, and found that specifically property-related criminal incidents in the area declined significantly. Interestingly, scientists believe that speed cameras work as a psychological deterrent rather than a hard mean of fighting crime.

Researchers say that automated speed enforcement measures represent a form of authority in the area, which basically scares potential criminals away. Criminals may also be taking into consideration that they may have to run away quickly, which would put their vehicles in the speeding people register. Finally, criminals are typically not the smartest – they may think that speed cameras are filming constantly or that they can be used for surveillance purposes.

But, of course, the biggest benefit of the automated speed enforcement measures is the reduction of traffic accidents. Speed is one of the most important factors contributing to the frequency of traffic accidents as well as damages inflicted during them. Tarek Sayed, co-author of the study, said: “Automated enforcement has always been a contentious issue, and so having this evidence to show its dual benefits will hopefully promote its use as a tool for improving community safety”. However, the conflict between drivers and speed cameras is going to remain if cameras and other anti-speeding measures will not be placed to encourage safety rather than just to collect fines.

Speed cameras are rarely installed in accident-prone areas. Usually they appear in downhill sections of the road or in the highway. If more speed cameras would be installed in residential areas, people would understand their benefit better both in terms of preventing collisions and improving overall protection from criminal activity.

 

Source: University of British Columbia

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