Surely speed cameras are among the most hated objects on the planet. Whether point-to-point, fixed or mobile cameras, they are seen to be nothing more than revenue raisers for the local authorities.
Police and government say no, it is a mater of safety. “We’re trying to change driver behaviour” they say, but a recent audit in New South Wales shows that driver behaviour has not changed. Road limits in some areas do not make sense, the cameras are not in black spots where deaths had occurred.
As you see here in Cleveland St in Sydney (pictured above in 2008), a dead straight ultra-wide 4 lane road is limited to 50kph. One complaint is shambolic mess of signage, it would be hard for you to read all of these signs while turning across one of the city’s main arterial roads which has 80kph and 60kph limits. The roads are similar widths and carry similar traffic. Cleveland St also joins 4 major roads together (all of which are 60kph and is a corridor from the west to the east and netted 7 million in fines in 2007. Note the 50kph sign had been damaged in this photo. It’s no wonder the majority of those fined were doing 60kph or thereabouts.
This is not surprising since all the 50kph limits were meant to be on “local roads”, that’s side roads to you and me. Evidently most motorists would think the same and drive at what they think is the limit because, as you see here, the true speed is difficult to spot. With more than a dozen signs in this small area, driving in becoming a game of chance.
Some governments claim that cameras have indeed reduced deaths. In a recent interview with the roads minister, a reporter asked if the road toll had come down, he replied yes. When asked if cameras had been the reason, he said there was no doubt that there was a correlation. He was asked if modern cars were safer than old cars, He said yes. The reporter then asked how he knew the road toll was related to the speed cameras and not safer cars, and he blithered about for a bit then said ,”Studies show,” but the reported wasn’t to be deterred. “Minister, where are your figures which show the decline in road deaths per capita was due to cameras and not safer cars?” The minister asked for the next question.
One thing that we can say for sure is that revenue is going up every year yet there are fewer and fewer police on the roads. If they were really serious about reducing deaths, they would use the revenue to increase police numbers.