Point-to-point monitoring needed to catch speedsters

Speed cameras do reduce road injuries and deaths, according to a new study, which supports greater use of point-to-point technology

By Brad Gardner | October 7, 2010

A new study has backed the rollout of more point-to-point speed cameras to catch offenders who dodge detection from fixed units.

Researchers from the University of Queensland and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research looked at 35 studies from Australia and around the world that assessed the impact cameras had on crashes, injuries, fatalities and vehicle speed.

They found that vehicle speed and crash frequency fell in areas where cameras were used, but drivers do abuse the system.

"One of the associated problems with automated speed enforcement is the tendency for some drivers to brake when passing a speed camera and then to speed in excess of the speed limit when out of range of the camera," the report says.

"A relatively new method which has the potential to ameliorate this, is road section control or average speed check."

Unlike traditional speed cameras, the report says the technology can measure a vehicle’s speed over a distance of at least 500 metres to several kilometres.

"Such a measure can reasonably be expected to have a more sustained positive behavioural effect and perhaps change the culture of speeding over a longer time."

NSW currently operates Safe-T-Cam, which monitors trucks between two points to determine if they are speeding.

The report says point-to-point technology is used in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, but more research is needed to determine its effectiveness.

Despite the shortfalls with fixed speed cameras, lead researcher Cecilia Wilson from the University of Queensland says they are effective.

"While there is variation in the results, the overall finding is clear – speed cameras do reduce injuries and deaths," she says.

The report comes as the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority begins work on significantly increasing the number of speed cameras.

Dr Soames Job from the RTA’s Centre for Road Safety says mobile speed cameras will be operating for 12,200 hours a month by July next year to improve road safety.

There are currently six mobile units being used, but Job says it is unclear how much this figure will rise by.

"One company may supply us a very good quote by using fewer cameras and operating for 20 hours a day. Another may consider it more efficient to have twice as many cameras operating 12 hours a day," he says.

According to Job, mobile speed cameras in Victoria and Queensland reduced injuries and fatalities by more than 25 percent.

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