The new point to point speed cameras on Athllon Drive near the intersection with Beasley Street in Farrer. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
Canberra’s newest point to point camera detected just seven drivers speeding in its first five days of testing, prompting renewed criticism about the placement of the system.
The government has spent more than $745,000 on installing a set of cameras that covers a 3.8km stretch of Athllon Drive, between Drakeford Drive and Beasley Street in Canberra’s south.
But critics have attacked the government’s decision to monitor average speeds along a stretch of road which requires motorists to slow down for two roundabouts, one of which is a busy intersection with Sulwood Drive.
Results of the first five days of testing, released to Fairfax Media, show just seven drivers were caught speeding during the period, which would have attracted a total of only $1500 in fines.
That is insignificant compared with the city’s first average speed camera on Hindmarsh Drive, which was recording about 800 speeding motorists a day during its testing period last year.
The data released by the government also shows that a large chunk of motorists are turning off the enforcement area on Athllon Drive early.
The government says an average of 12,711 cars travelling southbound entered the stretch of road per day, but just 7656 exited at the end near Drakeford Drive.
The issue is less significant for cars travelling north, with 7639 vehicles per day entering the enforcement area and 5703 exiting.
The data has prompted claims from Shadow Transport Minister Alistair Coe that the placement of the cameras may be ineffective.
‘‘I think the evidence to support average speed cameras is patchy at best,’’ Mr Coe said.
‘‘You really need to make sure that you’re getting the placement of it absolutely spot on, to ensure all the potential problems don’t eventuate,’’ he said.
‘‘It seems that at this site, the operational benefit of it may turn out to be fairly marginal.’’
A spokeswoman for the Justice and Community Safety Directorate said the early tests had shown a low level of mid-range speeding, but said point to point cameras had ‘‘never been about how many infringements they generate’’.
The spokeswoman said the high number of crashes on Athllon Drive had been a significant consideration when selecting the site.
Athllon Drive recorded the second highest number of crashes of any of the potential average speed camera sites.
‘‘The installation of point to point cameras has never been about how many infringements they generate, but about encouraging behaviour change, not just by those exceeding the speed limit by a significant amount, but also those speeding at lower levels and increasing their risk of a crash by doing so,’’ the spokeswoman said.
The highest average speed recorded over the five days was 96km/h.
An earlier speed survey of the same area showed at least 15 per cent of cars were exceeding the speed limit.
The JACS spokeswoman said the survey results indicated that there was a problem with low level speeding on the road.
But Mr Coe said increasing the police presence on Canberra roads, or increasing the number of mobile speed vans, were both more cost-effective ways of preventing speeding.
‘‘I think the installation of fixed speed cameras... really should be a last resort for a number of reasons, one because they’re extremely expensive and there’s an opportunity cost for every dollar the government spends,’’ he said.
‘‘But secondly, there are other temporary or mobile solutions, which are cheaper and I would argue more effective, such as high visibility traffic policing.’’