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Risk and Expertise in the Speed Limit Enforcement Debate: Challenges, Adaptations and Responses

NCJ Number
Criminology & Criminal Justice Volume: 11 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2011 Pages: 225-241
Helen Wells
Date Published
July 2011
This article explores the use of speed cameras to enforce speed limits.
This article explores the changing role of expertise within a society increasingly subject to policies justified by a 'risk' narrative. It uses the ongoing debate around the use of speed cameras to enforce speed limits as a lens through which the twin challenges of the 'demonopolization' and 'democratization' of expertise can be understood. Drawing on empirical research conducted with those who view themselves as experts in relation to the issue of speeding it proposes, first, that traditionally conceived experts such as government officials, police officers and road safety practitioners have had to adapt to the reality of a 'marketplace' of expertise in which their own expert product must be marketed in order to compete with that of other self-proclaimed expert voices. Second, and drawing on research conducted with drivers themselves, this research proposes that these marketing strategies are being deployed for the benefit of a public which actually sees itself as emancipated from such external sources of expertise and able to claim expert status in its own right. The findings are of potential relevance to any policymaker, practitioner or pressure group seeking to use a risk narrative to legitimate or oppose a policy stance. (Published Abstract)