New sneaky road camera plan in NSW
WARNING signs telling Aussie motorists there will be speed cameras ahead are having a profoundly negative impact on our road safety, according to a new report.
The report, released by NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford yesterday, recommended ditching the warnings - leading to more drivers getting fines - if we are to get real about saving lives.
She said states such as Victoria, which use "covert and unconcealed" mobile speed cameras (MSCs), are slapping more motorists with fines and bringing the level of road safety up.
"The use of multiple warning signs provides drivers with general reassurance that they will receive an obvious warning to slow down before potentially being caught speeding," Ms Crawford wrote in the report.
"This limits the opportunity to moderate driver behaviour through causing drivers to be worried they could be caught anywhere, anytime.
"The number of infringements issued by MSCs in these jurisdictions (such as Victoria) is many times higher."
And, while she said the 30 "best-performing" mobile speed camera sites in NSW have led to a reduction in fatal and serious crashes, the report found limited evidence that cameras have led to a change in driver behaviour across the state by acting as a deterrent.
She said fewer than 0.1 per cent of drivers who passed the cameras ended up being fined.
The report also shows NSW has had an overall reduction in serious road injuries. However, the number of fatalities involving speed rocketed by 19 per cent in the 12 months to April and excessive speed is a factor in 40 per cent of fatal crashes.
Despite the worrying findings, NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey's office slapped down any suggestions the Government would put up more cameras or stop using the speed camera 250m-ahead warning signs.
"It's not going to happen. It's not our policy," a spokesman for her office told The Daily Telegraph. "We're not going to start pulling down signs like they do in Victoria."
Some 1024 locations in NSW are approved for use by mobile speed cameras. However, only about 940 of those have suitable sites. Of these, only 650 were used in the six months to December.
This is despite the Government committing in 2012 to have mobile speed cameras operating at 2500 locations.
The report shows that one of the main reasons for this failure is a shortage of suitable locations and sites for the cameras
"Locations with suitable sites need to meet strict criteria for operator safety and meet the technical requirements of the speed camera device," the report reads.
"Other things that influence site availability include changes in road environment, road engineering projects and the installation of police enforcement bays. Some of the locations have been retired because no suitable sites have been identified - not because there is no longer a safety benefit."
The number of infringement notices issued by mobile speed cameras has more than halved over the last four years to 21,246 last year, from 55,473 in 2014.
The report comes as a number of creepy new "smart" detection cameras - which are analysing your driver behaviour - are quietly being installed on Aussie roads.
In a world first, a camera that catches drivers on mobile phones has been installed among a cluster of cameras above Sydney's bustling M4 motorway.
The groundbreaking new technology captures still images, video and artificial intelligence to detect whether the driver who passes beneath is talking, texting, reading or listening.
From this information, authorities can now tell whether you are checking your Facebook account or concentrating on the road.
Three of these new cameras are being tested by competing companies in Sydney - and the first has been installed on the M4 overpass near Clunies Ross Street in Prospect in the city's west.
However, no fines will be issued while the technology is being tested. And all test recordings will be deleted.