Sapol SE Freeway fines backdown over testing process


‘Retention of testing records’ blamed; camera capabilities defended

Sapol SE Freeway fines backdown over testing process
Ian Parrott

 

A new bout in South Australia’s South Eastern Freeway fines wrangle sees the state’s police drop outstanding speed camera offences at Leawood Gardens over flawed record-keeping.

From February 1, SA Police (Sapol) advises it has discontinued 153 matters currently before the courts and cancelled 56 suspended expiation notices relating to the 60 km/h speed limit for trucks and buses.

It claims a review of review of the testing procedure uncovered an unlikelihood of securing convictions.

It maintains the "testing procedure was correct" but the retention of those testing records "has not been followed in a manner that would result in a reasonable prospect of conviction".

"It has been determined from our review of this particular fixed camera at Leawood Gardens, that the recording of the testing regime SA Police had been conducting is such that we are not likely to see a reasonable prospect of conviction in court if the matter was contested," Assistant Commissioner Ian Parrot says.

"It needs to be strongly reinforced that SA Police are absolutely confident the camera was and is operating as per its specifications with no issues relative to the technology of the camera.

"The matters cancelled are done so purely from a procedural process perspective and not regarding the capabilities of the camera."


A new industry simulator helps tackle the SE Freeway descent


Parrott defends the use of the Leawood Gardens camera.

"We cannot lose sight of the fact that this camera was installed as a critical factor in addressing the issues of speeding heavy vehicles descending down the South Eastern Freeway into the city area where people have died.

"The camera was installed after the Coroner’s recommendations to directly address this issue.

"Speeding is one of the Fatal Five that cause significant harm and trauma on our roads.

"Over the last five years (2016-2020), 99 lives have been lost and a further 232 people have suffered serious, often life changing injuries, where speeding was a contributing factor."

Enforcement of offences on the SE Freeway has long prompted consternation, with then-transport minister Stephan Knoll pledging and backing down on certain fine increases in 2019, while the use of primary truck brakes on the descent has also courted industry confusion.

Sapol expands on the Leawood Gardens camera data, noting that, between April 3, 2019 and December 2, 2020, it led to 10,670 expiation notices, including:

  • 8,798 expiation notices issued for light vehicle speeding offences
  • 477 expiation notices issued for heavy vehicle general speeding offences
  • 1,395 expiation notices issued for heavy vehicle offences under s45C (10km/h+).

From those 10,670 expiation notices:

  • 9,959 were ‘finalised’
  • 316 had elected to be prosecuted and 153 of those matters which remain before the courts will now be withdrawn
  • 56 current expiation notices  will now be cancelled
  • 339 withdrawn for administrative reasons.

The camera temporarily stopped operating on December 2, to accommodate roadworks, and is not planned to resume until June.

 

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