Mobile speed camera warning signs are now an election issue in NSW
Motorists in NSW have been hit by the biggest increase in speed camera fines in recorded history. Today, the opposition has made it an electoral issue, because families and traders say “enough is enough”.
Warning signs in front of mobile speed cameras are set to become an election issue in NSW as the state opposition pledges to restore them – if elected to power – amid a record rise in fines and license suspensions.
The NSW Government has removed portable warning signs and reflective markings on mobile speed cameras amid the pandemic – amid accusations it was a desperate cash grab – and at the same time has Significantly lowers the threshold at which speeding tickets are issued.
As a direct result of these changes, the number of fines imposed on drivers for speeding less than 10 km/ha has increased more than tenfold – and revenue from speeding fines has reached record levels.
The drastic measures have also cost the licenses – and in some cases the livelihoods – of more drivers than ever before.
For example, in June 2020 – before portable warning signs in front of mobile speed cameras were removed – 2,300 drivers were stopped by mobile speed cameras in New South Wales, costing $453,000 in fines.
In June 2021 – after warning signs and reflective markings were removed from vehicles and the speed threshold lowered – more than 22,000 drivers were stopped by mobile speed cameras in NSW, garnering over $5 million in fines.
In an attempt to justify the draconian approach – and the more than tenfold increase in the number of drivers caught at modest speeds – the NSW government launched a publicity blitz claiming that the speed at just 10km/h above of the limit was a major cause of the road of the dead.
However, the experiment was a failure, as road deaths increase despite the tough new measures – proving that running over drivers at less than 10km/h over the speed limit has done nothing to improve road safety.
Critics of the current mobile speed camera system in NSW say the previous policy of placing warning signs before and after mobile speed cameras – themselves covered in highly reflective markings – was more effective at catching drivers really dangerous.
Frontline highway patrol officers are staunch critics of the current mobile speed camera system in NSW, but are not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.
According to recent crash data, the majority of road fatalities in NSW involve drivers impaired by drugs, alcohol or both – as well as prohibited drivers, those who have never license holders and drivers of unregistered or roadworthy cars. These are all offenses that speed cameras cannot detect.
“The government is deliberately misrepresenting fatal crash statistics to support its decision to lower the thresholds at which speeding tickets are issued via mobile speed cameras,” a highway patrol officer said. Conductspeaking on condition of anonymity.
“If the data they have shows that most fatal crashes happen at less than 10km/h over the speed limit, then they need to be honest about that and explain to motorists that those drivers were also affected by drugs, alcohol or repeated driving Offenders who have a long history of breaking the law.
“Instead, these cameras capture otherwise law-abiding citizens who simply follow the flow of traffic. These cameras issue tickets that the police would not issue themselves in good conscience. Because there would be dozens of other cars passing at the same speed (while an officer issued a ticket).
Another highway patrolman said Conduct: “Either reintroduce the highly reflective markings to the rear of the speed cameras, and reintroduce the portable warning signs well ahead of the speed cameras, and maintain the low speed threshold – or leave the cars hidden and partially marked as they are currently , but raise the threshold to 20km/h or more above the speed limit, so you really catch the idiots on the road.
“The current system is crippling people’s lives by affecting their livelihoods – and it has done nothing to reduce road tolls.”
A number of leading opposition NSW members have started sharing on their social media a pledge to reintroduce warning signs and abolish hidden cameras if they are elected to government in the next state elections.
In one example, an NSW opposition member wrote: ‘Removing speed camera warning signs didn’t work. It has impoverished families, but it hasn’t made our roads any safer.
The message accompanies a pledge by the NSW opposition to reintroduce warning signs and “abolish hidden speed cameras”.
Last year the New South Wales government announced it would reinstate warning signs – just nine months after secret speed cameras were introduced – following a backlash from the public.
However, motorists feel duped by the promise, as the old portable warning signs – placed some distance before and after parked speed cameras – have been replaced by a panel on the roof of the camera cars, which have no more than partial markings on the doors, and lacks highly reflective strips on the tailgate.
The current changes mean that by the time drivers see the sign on the roof of the radar car, their speed has already been checked.
In April 2022 a number of mobile speed camera operators in NSW were accused of failing to display retractable roof panels which were due to be introduced from March 2022.
The government said it would take time to fit every car with radar across NSW with the new folding roof panels.
Either way, statistics show that the sneaky speed camera campaign hasn’t worked in New South Wales.
The latest fatal statistics for NSW show there has been a 13.2 per cent increase in road fatalities so far this year (from 121 fatalities as of June 16, 2021 to 137 fatalities as of June 16, 2022) by compared to the same period last year – despite tough new measures and a 10-fold increase in speeding fines for driving less than 10 km/h over the limit.