By Mark Hinchliffe
January 12, 2010 11:00pm
POLICE speed camera initiatives to combat the road toll have been condemned by the National Motorists Association Australia.
State liaison officer for the association, Michael Bates, said official statistics showed that speed cameras did not reduce fatal crashes caused by speed.
He said the "latest" government report showed 52 fatal crashes were caused by speeding in 2004 compared with 51 in 1997, the year speed cameras were introduced.
"We also call on the government to lift its game in publishing these annual reports and ask how can the government seriously claim to be on top of road safety outcomes when the latest statistical review is over five years old," Mr Bates said.
His comments follow recent reports of plans to introduce covert speed camera vehicles without warning signs, red light cameras combined with speed cameras, point-to-point speed cameras, and reduced margins of tolerance for exceeding the speed limit.
Mr Bates said the government should be spending money on educating drivers to be more attentive and obey road rules, and subsidising advanced courses for drivers in their first year on the road.
"For about $10 million which is less than one quarter of the revenue from speed cameras, they could significantly improve the skills of as many as 10,000 young drivers," he said.
"These improved skills will stay with them for the rest of their driving lives."
Meanwhile, the RACQ has called for more police patrols on the roads and hand-held speed guns in suburban areas.
RACQ external relations general manager Gary Fites said an RACQ survey of members showed strong support for getting more police "out there on the roads".
The 2008 survey found that 86 per cent of RACQ members supported more "conspicuous" enforcement, while 71 per cent wanted greater use of covert traffic enforcement.
This follows a Galaxy poll, taken for The Courier-Mail
, that shows 54 per cent of Queenslanders thought the toll would be lessened by the presence of cameras.
"RACQ's view is that, as long as there is that mix, we're less concerned about whether the camera vans are marked or not than whether they are being deployed to best effect – where they're most likely to reduce speed-related crashes – and comply with operational guidelines to ensure accuracy of readings," Mr Fites said.
He confirmed that local traffic advisory committees, including RACQ representatives, still met to consider proposed new speed camera zones, with speed-related crash history being the primary determining factor.
"This approach will be tested by any move to deploy speed cameras into sub-60km/h residential streets, where – by the Police Minister's own recent admission – there is a very low incidence of speed-related crashes and, often, very low traffic volumes," he said.
"Our view is that speeding problems in most residential streets would be better policed by officers on the spot with hand-held LIDAR devices."
Mr Bates said statistics showed that speed cameras did not produce "an obvious decline" in fatal crashes caused by speeding and cameras also did not reduce other types of dangerous driving.
"Prior to the introduction of speed cameras, speed caused only 12 per cent of fatal crashes. In the most recent road crash report it caused 18 per cent," he said.
"Clearly speed cameras don't even target dangerous speeding. They are either fundamentally flawed in design for stopping it or any potential benefit is confounded by using them primarily on roads designed to accommodate speed."