Speed traps ignoring safety and filling government pockets.
by retired Senator Bill O’Chee
Since when was the solution to the problem of signs that were too small and difficult to see, to replace them with no signs at all? When they alert you to the presence of a police mobile speed camera, of course!
At least that is the excuse given by Queensland Police for eliminating signs warning drivers of a "Speed camera in use."
Inspector Alan Hales, the head of the Road Policing Command, said people had complained the signs were too small.
Now there are no signs at all.
Cynics might say that the decision, which took effect on July 1, might not be wholly unrelated to the increase in speeding fines that took place on the same day. Those cynics would be right.
According to the Queensland Government’s webpage on speed and red light cameras, the money received is used to pay for road safety. The Queensland Government spent $65.9m of speed camera revenue on road improvements in 2013-14, with a further $8m on road safety awareness, and a little under $5m on other hospital and injury programmes.
However that’s a small slice of the revenue they receive. Governments of all persuasions are coy about speed camera revenue, but motor vehicle insurer Allianz estimated Queensland Government revenue from speeding fines at some $300m in 2011-12.
With increases in speeding fines, and more speed cameras, the current revenue will be much, much higher. That being the case, one would have thought there was little reason to be sneaky about it as well.
Of course, the advantage to being sneaky is that it will be harder for people to call in the location of speed cameras to those helpful people on radio stations, who then tell the rest of us where they are.
No doubt there are some readers who are vehemently disagreeing with me at this point, and saying that if people speed they should be fined. That is indeed the law, but is the point of the traffic laws to punish people and raise revenue, or to prevent accidents? If it is to prevent accidents, then we should be open and honest about the enforcement of speed limits.
This gets us back to the location of police speed traps. According to police, they are located at places where there are frequent accidents.
The truth is they are often at the bottom of inclines, even slight ones, where people can creep a couple of kilometres an hour over the speed limit without intending to do so. The beginning of Coronation Drive after the Go Between Bridge is a favourite haunt.
And police certainly love roads where the speed limit changes. The ICB is a favourite. Westbound traffic has a 70 km/h zone, which drops to 60 km/h after the Clem 7 entrance, then goes back up to 70 km/h before the entrance to the Legacy Way, only to drop down to 60 km/h again barely 400m later. The Road Policing Command loves it.
In the 1990s I spent three years as Chairman of the Road Black Spot Consultative Committee. Every year I’d get a list of the worst accident sites in Queensland and I’d frequently drive out to inspect them. I never saw a police speed trap at a traffic black spot, but I’d see a lot of them on safe locations along the way.
That’s the problem. The emphasis is on making money, not preventing accidents. And the more police indulge in sneakiness to maximise fines, the less confidence the public will have in their road safety programme.