Speed cameras are without a doubt one of the most insidious devices invented. Why? Well, they persecute people for invalid reasons. Consider the facts:
1. Driver safety is contextual. The idea that you can place a camera on a road and click when people breach some arbitrary speed limit and declare that to be 'unsafe driving' is just fantasy. If people are to be perniciously persecuted for driving reasonable speeds, then that is bad, and it is going to bite society in the butt. The people most affected by these silly punitive measures are the poor. The problem however extends to the rich and educated as well, as they can more readily see the immorality of these devices. From them we can expect psychological repression.
2. Speed has no correlation with safety. People breach the speed limit for different reasons. Most people don't intend to exceed the speed limit; it just happens because they cannot watch their speedometer all the time.
3. Police cause a safety risk: The greater threat on the road is the police itself. Drivers who feel they can drive safely at speed, or drivers who hang about the speed limit are going to 'react' to the presence of speed cameras. This reaction will tend to cause accidents more than speeding. In those 5-10 seconds the conscious awareness of the driver is going to shift to the police presence, at the expense of their concentration upon on the road. One's eyes cannot help but focus on the police car in front or behind as he pursues you, before you pull over. I have even been 'caught' lapsing in judgement when police have pulled me over for a routine license, warranty of fitness or drink driving test, not because I have done anything wrong, but because I might have breached some arbitrary rule, and because they have these punitive powers. It is akin to being at school. It was wrong then, and its wrong now. The greater travesty is that the police do not even embrace these laws. I know police who flagrantly abuse road rules, knowing that they will not be fined by their colleagues. So there is a double standard as well.
In fairness, I will say that the new technologies which allow the police to monitor the speeds of cars over time frames rather than points is a fairer technology, but they still have a flaw. The punitive nature and arbitrary nature of these technologies remains significant flaws. The fact that police are rolling out these technologies is no stop-gap. The fact remains:
1. Drivers are the best judge of their speeds
2. Accidents are not speed-related as such, but more reflect the state-of-mind of the driver, who happens to be speeding. If you look at the speeds which result in accidents, they are drivers going 50kmph over the limit, not 10-20kmph. Alcohol and drugs are other issues, but still I do not believe speed cameras are the way to rein in peer group pressure, driving or drug taking. On the contrary, the punitive governments are adding to the problem, as opposed to solving it.
3. Punitive governments are oppressing fair-minded people, and compelling them to become defiant and law-breachers. It starts with fines, in progresses to court appearances and $5000-$50,000 fines, and it finally results in mass murders and psychologically scarred individuals with no regard for arbitrary rules.
The government is giving people reasons to externalise what would otherwise be personal problems, and rightfully so. It is not a poor decision to want to solve political problems. The problem is democracy gives them no recourse. We as a society are stuffed.