Old unmarked vans to be converted to covert speed cameras
OLD vans that have to be made roadworthy are set to be in the first fleet of covert speed cameras rolled out on Queensland roads.
The reconditioned wrecks will be part of a varied group of vehicles used in the stealth assault on speed.
Police will handpick their fleet and expect to turn an old van worth a few thousand dollars into a vehicle that could reap tens of thousands in fines.
Older vehicles must be restored to roadworthy status, rewired and fitted with airconditioning and powerful batteries. None of the covert cameras will bear police markings.
"If it's going to be a covert operation there will be no signage at all because that would defeat the purpose of it," Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson said yesterday.
"Covert would be truly covert and that would mean anywhere, anytime, any vehicle."
The Courier-Mail, in conjunction with police and the State Government, yesterday launched the "Brake the Habit" campaign aimed at reducing the road toll in 2010.
The Government has already announced plans to boost its anti-speeding strategy, and the first unmarked cameras will start snapping lead-footed motorists from as early as June.
Police have trialled three unmarked vehicles, taken from the existing speed camera fleet of 30 vans.
Police Minister Neil Roberts said up to 30 per cent of speed camera hours would be clocked by unmarked vans.
"If we are serious about reducing the road toll, we have to dramatically change driver behaviour," Mr Roberts said.
"Human factors account for over 90 per cent of road fatalities. Increasing the chance and uncertainty of detection is a powerful motivator in changing driver behaviour."
Queensland's road toll has been below 300 only once in 55 years. In 1998, 279 people died in the first full year speed cameras were deployed.
Queensland is following the Victorian method after that state brought its road toll to its lowest level since records began in 1952.
Victorian roads have been policed by covert cameras for more than 20 years. The cameras have been housed in vans, utes and sedans.
Victoria's top traffic cop said the devices had been one of the most significant factors in their reduced toll.
"We don't announce where they are or where they're going to be," Deputy Commissioner Ken Lay said.
"The research is very, very clear right across the world that if you drop the speed level, you cut the level of road trauma."
Mr Lay said Victoria's fixed cameras were rarely signed for motorists but a website listed full details of all camera locations.
Mr Atkinson conceded it was possible Queensland could move towards the Victorian model where all mobile speed cameras operated covertly.
"It's up to us to show in the course of this year and perhaps beyond that, what's working and what isn't working," Mr Atkinson said.
[Source: The Courier Mail]