Their findings are published this month in The Cochrane Library.
Preventing road traffic injuries is of global public health importance.
The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2020 road traffic crashes will have moved from ninth to third in the rank of causes of poor health.
Speed cameras are one of the measures that authorities can use to reduce traffic speed in the hope of preventing road injuries.
Their use has supporters and detractors, so the research team set out to investigate whether they are effective.
They looked for studies that had assessed the impact of speed cameras on speeding, road crashes, crashes causing injury and fatalities.
After searching available literature, they identified 35 relevant studies.
“While there is variation in the results, the overall finding is clear – speed cameras do reduce injuries and deaths,” said lead researcher Cecilia Wilson of the UQ Centre on National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine (CONROD).
Compared with controls, the average speed fell as did the percentage of vehicles that exceeded local speed limits. The numbers of crashes in the areas of the cameras also fell, as did the numbers of people killed or injured.
Speed is a critical issue. Driving faster than the posted limit, or too fast for the prevailing conditions, increases the risk of crashes, and also the chance of those crashes causing more serious injury.
“Even though some of the studies were not conducted as carefully as others, the consistency in the way that vehicle speeds, crashes, road traffic injuries and deaths all reduced in places where speed cameras were operating shows that these cameras do a good job,” Ms Wilson said.
She said that none of these studies were carried out in low-income countries, where most road traffic crashes occur, and called for further research in these settings.
The study was conducted by Ms Wilson, Ms Joan Hendrikz, Dr Robyne Le Brocque and Professor Nicholas Bellamy of CONROD, and Dr Charlene Willis of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research.
Full citation: Wilson C, Willis C, Hendrikz JK, Le Brocque R, Bellamy N. Speed cameras for the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 10. Art. No.: CD004607. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004607.pub3.
Notes for editors
1. About The Cochrane Library
The Cochrane Library contains high quality health care information, including the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, from the Cochrane Collaboration. Cochrane Systematic Reviews bring together research on the effects of health care and are considered the gold standard for determining the relative effectiveness of different interventions. The Cochrane Collaboration (http://www.cochrane.org) is a UK registered international charity and the world’s leading producer of systematic Reviews. It has been demonstrated that Cochrane Systematic Reviews are of comparable or better quality and are updated more often than the reviews published in print journals (Wen J et al; The reporting quality of meta-analyses improves: a random sampling study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 2008; 61: 770-775).
In 2010 The Cochrane Library moved from quarterly to monthly publication.
The Cochrane Library is published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Cochrane Collaboration.
The Cochrane Library Podcasts: a collection of podcasts on a selection of Cochrane Reviews by authors of reviews in this issue will be available from www.cochrane.org/podcasts.
2. Accessing The Cochrane Library
The Cochrane Library can be accessed at www.thecochranelibrary.com. Guest users may access abstracts and plain language summaries for all reviews in the database, and members of the media may request full access to the contents of the Library. For further information, see contact details below. A number of countries, including countries in the World Bank’s list of low-income economies (countries with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of less than $1000), have national provisions by which some or all of their residents are able to access The Cochrane Library for free. To find out more, please visit tinyurl.com/CochraneAccess.
3. About Wiley-Blackwell
Wiley-Blackwell is the international scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons, with strengths in every major academic and professional field and partnerships with many of the world’s leading societies. Wiley-Blackwell publishes nearly 1,500 peer-reviewed journals and 1,500+ new books annually in print and online, as well as databases, major reference works and laboratory protocols. For more information, please visit www.wileyblackwell.com or our new online platform, Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), one of the world’s most extensive multidisciplinary collections of online resources, covering life, health, social and physical sciences, and humanities.
If you would like to see a full list of reviews published in the new issue of The Cochrane Library, or would like to request full access to the contents of The Cochrane Library, please contact Jennifer Beal at Wiley-Blackwell:
Direct line: +44 (0) 1243 770633
Mobile: +44 (0) 7802 468863