Those of Rupe’s troops at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have made a miraculous discovery: there are speed cameras out there on the road network that snap cars breaking the speed limit. Bears dump in woods, Pope Catholic. But the hacks have discovered something else: when you add up all the speeding fines, it can produce a big and scary number.
Clearly, nothing gets past a Murdoch journalist, except perhaps that speed cameras are installed where they are for a reason, and that reason is because they are judged to be an effective means of changing driver behaviour – as in slowing them down at locations where there have been serious accidents in the recent past. The Sun, for some reason, does not mention accidents at all.
Instead, readers are told how Rupe’s troops have been putting in Freedom Of Information (FoI) requests to find out “Britain’s most money-grabbing speed cameras”, which “Between them ... rake in £3 million in fines in a year”. And who pays the fines? “Frustrated motorists”, declares the piece, rather than the more prosaic “motorists who significantly exceed the speed limit”.
So who is the bad guy behind all these “money-grabbing” devices? Oh look, a photo of Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne. It’s the pantomime bad guy, so it must be pantomime season. So we have to be told for the 94th time that Huhne got caught by a speed camera on the M11 (allegedly) and that someone else (allegedly) took his points (perhaps).
We even get the Sun playing both sides: readers are told that “the single most risky route for fines in Britain [if you can’t keep your speed down] was a 12-mile stretch of seafront road in Brighton ... it has 11 cameras, which caught 18,045 drivers in three years”. And if the authorities had done nothing, Rupe’s troops could play why-oh-why about all the crashes and injuries.
The lamentable standard of the piece is confirmed with a quote from the so-called Drivers’ Alliance, which is allied with our old friends at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance. The two bodies have in the past joined forces to selectively use figures to suggest that speed cameras cause more accidents, and the sham has not taken too much effort to thoroughly debunk.
If anything or anyone is to be “named and shamed”, as the Sun suggests, it should be the misleading and myth-sustaining hackery that is on display in their own rag. Papers would do well to call speeding for what it is: potentially deadly law-breaking.