Our missing speed cameras
Anna Merola
15jan06

CAMERAS to detect speeding motorists are rarely in use from 10pm to 7am, police documents show.

Released under the Freedom of Information Act, the documents reveal 229 speed cameras operated on metropolitan roads during one week in October last year but only from 7am to 10pm.

The documents also show no mobile speed cameras were in use between midnight and 6am.

According to police statistics, however, 61 of SA's 148 fatal accidents last year happened between 9pm and 6am.

"It supports my argument that speed cameras are being used only to raise revenue, and not in time periods when they should be used, which is particularly on Friday and Saturday nights," Independent MLC Terry Cameron said.

"If it's so dangerous to drive a car at that time, and cameras are so effective in reducing speeding behaviour, why aren't they being used?

"We would argue the cost revenue ratio is not enough for the government to employ them."

A Victorian Government report also found first-year P-platers were involved in, on average, a third of their fatal crashes between 10pm and 6am although only nine per cent of their driving was done at this time.

The 2005 report also said travelling at higher speeds, driving when tired, and sometimes with peers which can encourage more risk-taking behaviour, were possible crash factors. Road accident researcher Professor Jack McLean, of the Centre for Automotive Safety Research, said the same risks existed in SA.

"I don't think that young Victorians are all that different to young people here," he said.

He was surprised to learn speed cameras were rarely used at night, despite random breath testing stations often operating after midnight, he said.

"Speed is probably even bigger a problem and there is a close association between travelling speed and crashes.

"I don't think that depends on the time of day."

According to the SA police data provided for the week in October, the earliest speed camera operator started duty at 7am on Port Rd, Welland, and stayed there for four hours. The latest the cameras were in use was just after 10pm.

Assistant Commissioner (Operations Support Service) Grant Stevens said speed camera deployment was based on factors such as peak crash times and locations.

"The reality is the deployment principles do not prescribe the use of speed cameras throughout the night," he said in a statement.

"This is offset by the use of hand-held lasers by patrols at all hours and also a shift of focus from speed to drink-driving hot spots during the early hours of the morning.

"If a particular location was identified as meeting the criteria after 11pm, then it would be considered for speed camera deployment if it could not be appropriately handled by hand-held laser."

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