The ACT Auditor-General has slammed the way speed cameras are used in Canberra, finding no evidence they reduce speeding.
The damning report found speed camera reliability is poor, with escalating maintenance costs and too many rejected infringements. It found the 13 fixed ‘‘mid-block cameras’’ were not doing their intended job and urged the government to look at removing them, relocating them or expanding the network.
Criticising a lack of strategy from the ACT government, Auditor-General Maxine Cooper said it was ‘‘unlikely to have the right number of speed cameras in the right places’’. ‘‘There is no strategic basis for making decisions for integrating the use of the ACT’s four speed camera systems as the ACT government does not have a speed camera strategy and its draft ACT road safety camera strategy is not a strategy,’’ Dr Cooper said.
The report found problems in each of the four speed camera systems. The 13 ‘‘mid-block’’ speed cameras, fixed cameras not at traffic lights, were unlikely to reduce crashes since crash data had not been used in choosing their locations. The ACT was the only jurisdiction not to use crash data to choose sites. Nor would cameras discourage speeding across the city since too few were in place.
Conspicuous fixed cameras did not deter speeding unless they were placed at a rate of at least one every four kilometres, but in the ACT there were just 13 for 290kilometres of arterial roads, the auditor said.
There was no evidence to support use of the point-to-point speed cameras in the ACT, with doubts about their suitability for urban areas. Canberra has two point-to-point cameras, but neither was installed at distances considered cost-effective. While they were planned to be fivekilometres apart, and most jurisdictions have them further apart, the Hindmarsh Drive cameras were just 2.8kilometres apart and the Athllon Drive cameras 3.7kilometres.
Dr Cooper said the cost effectiveness of point-to-point cameras was questionable and ‘‘it is likely that there has been a threefold increase in the cost per kilometre of road treated from the initial design stage through to implementation’’.
Mobile speed camera coverage remained limited – used on just 23per cent of arterial roads – and were highly visible, hampering the government’s warning that drivers could be caught ‘‘any time, anywhere’’. The 13 cameras at traffic lights might not be located at the highest priority sites and their effectiveness was yet to be comprehensively evaluated.
The report found the ACT’s rejection rate for infringements was much higher than other states – between 18 and 43er cent of infringements since 2001 never resulted in a ticket being sent out.
Camera pings are rejected when staff cross-check each case before sending out a speeding ticket, when they might find images are obscured, a mismatch between car and number plate, an unreadable or missing plate, too many vehicles to pick the offender, or an emergency vehicle. The auditor said reliability problems, particularly with mobile cameras, had led to a greater number of rejected infringements.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell said the report reinforced the need for the review he announced a fortnight ago.
‘‘Clearly, this audit has identified a range of issues that will need to be considered by the government, including the extent to which past decisions about the numbers, types and locations of the cameras – particularly the sitting of mid-block cameras – are delivering the best road safety outcomes for the territory,’’ Mr Corbell said.
Opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe said the government had misled the community about the use of cameras for road safety.
The report includes 16 recommendations, including a review of purpose and siting of mid-block cameras; the development of a camera strategy for the ACT; and for information on speed camera effectiveness to be regularly published.
Canberra’s network of point-to-point and fixed speed cameras has netted more than $11.48million in fines in the past 12 months.
Since 1999, the government collected $106million from more than 721,800 fines.