Here’s further proof speed cameras are more about revenue raising rather than saving lives.
A fixed speed camera in Sydney’s CBD has stopped issuing fines – sending warning letters instead – after more than 36,000 drivers were snapped in three months, which was more than seven times the rate of the state’s next busiest speed camera.
The speed limit on Oxford Street Darlinghurst was dropped from 50kmh to 40kmh in June 2020, however the speed camera warning signs were obscured by trees, street furniture, parked trucks, and shop awnings.
Photo: Edwina Pickles / SMH Nine.
Even before authorities began issuing warnings in October 2020, local courts were dismissing fines for motorists who challenged the ticket.
Most motorists caught by the camera were busted travelling close to or less than the previous 50kmh limit. Listeners told talkback radio even local police were not aware of the speed limit change.
The fixed camera site snapped more than 36,000 speeding cars in just three months compared to 5200 in the Cross City Tunnel and 4000 in the Sydney Harbour Tunnel over the same period – even though both those arterials handle more than 10 times the number of cars than Oxford Street does each day.
While authorities began issuing warning notices in October 2020 it is not clear if the fines issued before then will be revoked. Some drivers could have lost their licence – and their job – as a result of the over-zealous camera from June to August 2020.
There have also been no reports of serious injuries or road deaths at the intersection in the time leading up to or since the speed limit was changed.
Transport for NSW deputy secretary Tara McCarthy told The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper speeding contributed to “about 41 per cent” of NSW road fatalities and that rose to 47 per cent in 2020, or 139 deaths. Of those, 48 (about one-third) were in the Sydney metro area.
However, when the data is collected the definition of “speeding” is broad. Crash investigation police who spoke to CarAdvice on condition of anonymity said drugs, alcohol and banned drivers represented the majority of the road toll and claimed such drivers accounted for “up to 90 per cent” of road deaths in some areas.
Photo: Edwina Pickles / SMH Nine.
“To say speed is the biggest killer on our roads is misleading,” said one veteran officer. “Excessive speed can be a factor but generally it’s not people doing five or 10kmh over the limit. (Road deaths) are caused by inattention, people making poor decisions and, the big one, driving erratically under the influence of drugs and alcohol.”
To that end, the NSW Police Highway Patrol Command has established Taskforce Puma which targets repeat driving offenders who continue to drive while suspended.
Frontline officers attached to other highway patrol divisions have told CarAdvice repeat driving offenders and drug affected motorists are a bigger contributor to the road toll than the public realises.
“We’re not going to arrest our way out of the ice epidemic unfortunately,” said one officer. “We put them before the courts but the courts let them out on bail or with a driving suspension. But it’s too tempting for (the banned driver) to get back behind the wheel. We need to start locking serious offenders up.”
“Instead,” the veteran officer warned, “the legal system lets these drivers out and they cause carnage on our roads. Police are left to pick up the mess. Meanwhile people are getting caught by speed cameras going a few (kilometres per hour) over the limit.”
MORE: Road safety