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Since the introduction of speed cameras, deaths on Britain’s roads have halved from 4,229 in 1992 to 1,850 in 2009, the most recent figures.Of course road safety has improved in many other ways, but plenty of individual trials have proved the effectiveness of cameras.When he left the police in 1999, he reckons public opinion was still on his side.“At no time did I prosecute below 40mph in a 30mph,” he says.Local police and councils joined forces to form safety camera partnerships, picking out sites which the government would then fund.It meant camera numbers multiplied from 1,600 in 2000 to 4,737 in 2007, according to AA figures.
“I’ve replied to as many letters from people who wanted cameras as those that didn’t.” The evidence they reduce accidents seems overwhelming.No tactic was too devious, including one memorable trick back in 2008, when a mobile camera was hidden in a horse box.Despite all this, the British public is still generally in favour. The dual-carriageway through this part of leafy south-west London is a 40mph zone but Reynolds remembers the camera being set at 60mph. And the worst were pretty bad in what Reynolds described as a notorious accident spot.In an eye-opening reminder of the casual attitude to speed limits back then, the trial camera on the Thames bridge recorded an astonishing 22,939 drivers exceeding 65mph in 22 days, Reynolds told the Richmond and Twickenham Times back in 1992.