THERE ARE, in my book, very few people (aside from terrorists and those who direct them) who can be said to actually “deserve” to die.

Which tends to make the statement that someone “didn’t deserve to die” a bit redundant. Yet it’s a phrase that’s used very commonly by people trying to come to terms with the loss of a person they know in tragic circumstances.

What we really mean to say is that the fact he or she has died at this time, at their age or in those particular circumstances is utterly, utterly wrong; that it is totally unjustifiable and unbearably sad.

One person that applies to beyond any shadow of a doubt is 18-year-old Kate Whalley, of Pool-in-Wharfedale, who died after being struck by a car on the A660 Leeds Road, near its junction with Old Pool Bank, as she returned home from sitting her penultimate A-Level exam at school.

It is impossible to imagine the heart-rending, devastating, indescribable grief her parents must feel - tempered, as it undoubtedly is, by their pride at her decision to donate her organs which are now saving the lives of nine others.

Kate was, clearly, a truly remarkable young woman who must surely have had a wonderful life ahead of her.

What makes her loss so much harder for those who loved her is that it is possible her death could have been avoided had the authorities listened to warnings about the dangers of speeding from local people, including her own father, Michael.

His remarkable dignity in talking to the media about the issue in the hope that others can be saved from such tragedy in future must surely belie the bitterness he must feel at the fact those authorities failed to act on his warnings.

He and his fellow residents were told at a meeting last October by a highways representative that the speed limit could not be lowered and speed cameras put in place until there was a fatality.

In itself, that sounds like a horribly callous statement but it is one that is used on many occasions when residents call for action to slow down dangerous traffic on nearby roads.

It is based on official policy. But the suggestion that someone HAS to die before new speed cameras can be located on a specific road is not strictly true.

Speed cameras are deployed by local road safety partnerships (made up of councils, police, courts, highways agency etc) and, essentially, they make up their own rules.

They are led by the Department of Transport which issued “guidelines” on the use of them in a circular in 2007 which was later restated and published on the Gov.UK website in October 2015 because of public concerns about “poor practice in speed camera enforcement.”

Those guidelines point out that an independent four-year evaluation of the National Safety Camera Programme, covering more than 4,100 camera sites in 38 safety camera partnership areas, recorded a 42 per cent reduction in death and serious injury and a 22 per cent reduction in personal injury collisions at camera sites.

It recommends that partnerships carry out an analysis of collision data before selecting potential camera sites but, it says, “evidence from the evaluation reports… has continuously shown that the use of cameras has been effective when deployment was based upon locations where a specific level of Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) collisions and excessive speed had occurred.”

Crucially, though, it points out that the local partnership is “fully accountable for those decisions.”

“In view of local decision making and accountability, the Department does not want to be prescriptive about the conditions to be met for the use of safety cameras,” it says.

The guidelines state that: “The primary objective for camera deployment is to reduce deaths and injuries on roads by reducing the level and severity of speeding and red-light running. The aim is to do this by preventing, detecting and enforcing speed and red-light offences, which includes encouraging changed driver behaviour by the use of safety camera activity.”

Most importantly, it recognises that the siting of speed cameras does not have to be entirely controlled by the number of fatalities: “Whilst the primary objective for camera deployment is to reduce KSIs [Killed or Seriously Injured collisions] at known collision locations, cameras can also be beneficial where there is community concern – i.e. the local community requests enforcement at a particular site because traffic speed is causing concern for road safety…”

In other words, the oft-repeated statement that there must be a fatality before speed cameras can be deployed is bunkum.

The decision lies firmly at the door of the West Yorkshire Casualty Reduction Partnership. It’s their policy and they can change it as they see fit.

I’m not advocating the mass deployment of new speed cameras but it is definitely time that the policy was reviewed and, above all, that consultation with local residents is made a much more important factor in the decision-making process.

Of course, situations can be overstated and there has to be some scientific evidence and sensible measurement to back up the judgements but the fact is that nobody knows more about how potentially lethal a road can be than the people who live on it or near it and use it daily.

The bottom line is that people shouldn’t have to die before a road can be made safer.

And people like Michael Whalley should not have to suffer the stultifying pain and abject misery of losing their most precious possession – children like the lovely “apple-of-his-eye,” Kate – because the powers-that-be won’t listen.