Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Speed cameras

I drove past the spot at the weekend where I picked up a speeding ticket a couple of years ago. It is in Caernarfon, North West Wales. The ticket said I was doing 42 mph in a 30 limit

The problem I have with is that at the time I thought I was in a 40 limit. OK, so I was still over that limit, but by a much lesser margin. The road where the camera is located chops and changes limits, and I would argue there are few visual clues (other than the signs at the change points) to inform you what limit you are in.

So I got a ticket, not for speeding to great excess, but for not noticing a change in speed limit. I really wonder how effective it has been at changing my behaviour or attitude, and hence has there been any improvement in the safety of my driving? The only major change I am aware of is that I now know to drive at 30mph on that particular stretch of road. Something I may do a handful of times per year.

I think this has parallels with what we talk about in industrial safety and human factors. If we take actions at face value we may make interventions that either have minimal or counter-productive affects. If we have too many rules and/or enforce them too rigidly the culture will change completely. Equally, if we are too lenient there will be consequences. I guess there is a balance to make, and we have to work continuously to make sure that balance is being achieved.

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