INSTITUTION OF CIVIL ENGINEERS president Mark Whitby is backing a campaign to make speed cameras less visible.
The campaign aims to overturn a recent government ruling that speed cameras be made more visible and only placed in areas where strict casualty criteria are met.
The campaign, organised by transport lobbyist Slower Speeds Initiative (SSI), describes the new rules as 'unfathomable in terms of safety and the rule of law'.
SSI's members include cycling charity Sustrans, Transport 2000.
It has written to transport minister John Spellar challenging him to justify the new rules and explain how they promote the government's target of a 40% reduction in deaths and serious injuries on the roads by 2010.
Whitby has also supported the move. 'We as an Institution have to support this initiative if we are concerned about road deaths, ' he said.
The SSI fears that the new rules will help motorists ignore speed limits unless they see a speed camera, increasing risks to road users.
The revised rules were introduced by the former Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions in May and came into force in June.
They order local authorities to paint speed cameras yellow and ensure they are not hidden behind signs or bushes.
They must also ensure that speed camera warning signs are placed ahead of cameras. Councils can only position cameras on sections of road where at least four people have died or been seriously injured over a 1km stretch in the previous three years. The SSI letter challenges Spellar to produce evidence that the new rules will reduce speeds and casualties.
'Speeding is a crime. Speed limits are not optional, or advisory, nor is it necessary to prove risk of harm before enforcement can take place. In what other areas of criminal law enforcement does the government consider it necessary always to give an offender an advance warning that evidence gathering is taking place?' says the SSI letter.
The move comes a week after the Department for Transport released figures revealing that road deaths increased by 1% to 3,443 in 2001, with the number of people seriously injured down by 3% to 37,094.
INFOPLUS www. nceplus.co.uk/magazine/ transport