Speed cameras need to be scrutinised: MP

MP calls for a parliamentary committee to investigate whether speed cameras improve safety or simply generate revenue for government

By Brad Gardner | March 15, 2011

A parliamentary committee should investigate whether speed cameras save lives or simply act as revenue raisers, a South Australian MP says.

Schubert MP Ivan Venning has questioned the effectiveness of speed cameras in cutting the state’s road toll, saying other safety measures have had a greater effect on improving safety.

He says the 2005 introduction of 24-hour mobile random breath testing, anti-hoon legislation and immediate loss of licence for drink driving led to a demonstrable decrease in the road toll.

"The introduction of drug-driving testing in 2007…resulted in the road toll for 2008 reducing from 125 to 99 – a good move," Venning says.

"Comparing the same two years, the percentage of speed related fatalities remained almost unchanged, causing 37 percent in 2007 and 36 percent in 2008, respectively."

According to Venning, the speed cameras contributing most to government coffers are not in the worst places for speed related accidents.

"An investigation into the effectiveness of speed cameras is warranted in order to try to determine whether they have an impact on reducing road toll accidents causing injury and death or whether these cameras simply generate revenue for the government," he says.

Venning wants the committee to first investigate the effectiveness of speed cameras, their placement and operation and their effect on the road toll.

"Comparisons could then be made and examined regarding the different road safety measures – drug-driver testing, random breath testing etc – to see which initiatives are most effective in reducing the road toll. Funds and efforts can then be targeted at those measures," he says.

Venning says drunk and drug drivers are more likely to cause a serious accident than a motorist slightly exceeding the speed limit.

While Venning supports speed cameras policing 110km/h speed limits, he says motorists are complaining about receiving large fines for speeding in 50km/h zones.

"They thought it was 60[km/h] because it was a busy main road and simply did not see the sign," he says.

An academic study last year found that vehicle speed and crash frequency fell in areas where cameras were used.

The report also found that motorists abuse the system by slowing down when approaching fixed camera spots and then speeding again when out of range.

Researches from the University of Queensland and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research supported the use of point-to-point speed cameras, which measure a vehicle’s travel time between two points to determine if they exceeded the speed limit.

"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," the report says.

Dr Soames Job from the RTA’s Centre for Road Safety says mobile speed cameras in Victoria and Queensland reduced injuries and fatalities by more than 25 percent.

The units will be operating for 12,200 hours a month in NSW by July next year to improve road safety, Job says.

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