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Impact of traffic cameras on speed put under microscope

Canberra's speed camera network is set for a shake-up, with the ACT Auditor-General about to release a report into the cameras, which bring in about $11 million a year in fines.

The government has also announced its first major review of the camera network.

Auditor-General Dr Maxine Cooper has investigated whether the speed cameras are in the right places, whether they are having an impact on speeding, and whether they are reliable.

Speed cameras were introduced in Canberra by the Carnell government in 1999, and red-light cameras followed soon after. In 2012 came point-to-point cameras. There are 13 fixed speed cameras at nine city locations, and another 13 fixed speed and red-light cameras. There are two point-to-point cameras and five mobile camera vans.

In the first year, about $1 million was collected in fines, but the amount has risen dramatically. In each of the past three years, about 60,000 speeding notices were issued and about $11 million collected.

Attorney-General Simon Corbell has asked the University of NSW's Transport and Road Safety Research Group to review the network and its impact on crashes and speeding, with a report due by the middle of the year.

After the NSW Auditor-General reported on NSW speed cameras in 2011, 38 of the 141 fixed-speed cameras in the state were decommissioned since they were found to have no benefit for road safety.

NSW Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat found that overall speed cameras brought about a 26 per cent reduction in crashes and and a drop in fatalities by more than two-thirds.

The director of Transport and Road Safety Research at the University of NSW, Professor Ann Williamson, who is heading the review, said speed cameras could be very effective at reducing speed, but produced different results depending how they were used.

She said her team would look at the mix and locations of cameras in Canberra to check how useful they were and where changes could be made. It would also look at how Canberrans' attitudes to speed cameras and speeding had changed since cameras were introduced. It would not investigate fine levels, nor reliability of camera technology.

''Speed and lack of control of speeding is at the heart of a great deal of the road trauma that we see in Australia,'' she said. ''And it's not just doing 130 on a 100km/h region, but even moderate speeding in urban areas can be a highly risky activity for other people on the road, particularly if they're not protected - bicyclists, motorbikes, pedestrians and so forth.''

Liberal spokesman Alistair Coe said it was high time for a review given the millions of dollars raised from speed cameras.

''What we do know is that in some instances the incidence of accidents around speed camera locations has actually increased rather than decreased,'' he said.

''That in itself should be a worry to the government … [it] should be looking at all the sites and other possible sites to make sure they're in the best possible location.''


  • I hope it will find that the P2P on Hindmarsh Dr causes plenty of near-misses from cars riding brakes during the descent.
    If brake lights are illuminated due to the vehicle softly braking, then said vehicle abruptly uses the brake, the motorist behind does not realise until almost rear-ending the braking vehicle.

    Date and time
    March 11, 2014, 12:08AM
    • Then increase the gap between you and the car in front.

      It's not rocket science.

      The Creek
      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 8:56AM
    • @wook - it is a bit hard to increase the gap between you and the car behind you when tailgating seems to be a common hobby in Canberra. how many times have you stuck on the speed limit to see people closely and uncomfortably sitting on your butt???

      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 9:15AM
    • I understand what you're saying, gg, but only you can control what you do, you can't control what the idiots that are tailgating are doing.

      The bottom line is that a lot of drivers in the ACT (and Australia in general!) are reckless, dangerous and impatient, if everyone drove responsibly, courteously and safely there wouldn't be a requirement for speed cameras, etc, and insurance premiums would also decrease significantly.

      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 10:16AM
    • A car tailgating you doesn't force you to tailgate does it?

      d d
      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 10:17AM
    • Why do you need to use the brake at all? Maybe its just my car but my car maintains the speed limit on decent without using either accelerator or break.

      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 1:01PM
    • Jane2, good to hear. Is that because you drive a car with a modern automatic transmission that combines engine speed with "gear" ratio to maintain the correct speed without braking?

      Even in the older cars, it's still quite easy to maintain the desired speed going downhill without braking - it's just a matter of choosing engine revolutions and the appropriate gear or automatic transmission setting (ie not "D" all the time) to maintain the desired speed. One just needs to know how, and to have the inclination to actually do it.

      Ask any truck driver - they can tell you how to use the engine and gears instead of burning out the brakes on the downhill stretches. Or just read the user manual which came with the car ...

      Corectly use the vehicle
      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 3:33PM
    • Wook, increasing the gap wont work because if you do, another driver will slip in.
      And then you will have to brake to maintain a safe distance (gap) behind it.
      Not rocket science, you know.

      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 4:53PM
    • PeterC, if another vehicle fills the gap OF COURSE you increase the gap again. It's not hard and it's hardly a situation that's unusual.

      Date and time
      March 11, 2014, 10:13PM
  • ''What we do know is that in some instances the incidence of accidents around speed camera locations has actually increased rather than decreased,''

    Point in case are the North and South facing cameras on the Tuggeranong Parkway at the Cotter Road over pass.
    Since their introduction there have been at least 4 (perhaps someone can confirm that number) significant accidents at that location.

    Date and time
    March 11, 2014, 5:49AM

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