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Speed camera warnings ‘limiting ability to improve road safety’

By Cameron Kirby, 19 Oct 2018 News

Speed camera warnings ‘limiting ability to improve road safety’

A NSW Audit Office report claims there is limited evidence to show that speed cameras have prompted a change in driver behaviour in NSW

The New South Wales Auditor-General has recommended a review of the state’s speed-camera strategy, encouraging the removal of signs warning motorists that there is a camera ahead.

The push comes in the wake of a report released on Thursday from the state Audit office, which claims while the 30 “best performing” mobile speed cameras have prompted a reduction in fatal and serious crashes, they have not changed driver behaviours.

Read next: Aerial speed enforcement in Australia – busting the myth

The NSW Auditor-General claims warnings signs that tell motorists where a speed camera is located has stopped the enforcement method becoming an effective deterrent.

“This limits the opportunity to moderate driver behaviour through causing drivers to be worried they could be caught anywhere, anytime,” the report said.

“Research indicates the best way to maximise road safety outcomes is to maintain an element of randomness in camera deployments.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reports there are 1024 locations in NSW approved for use by mobile speed cameras, but only 940 of those have suitable sites, and just 650 were used in the six months to December 2017.

The Auditor-General’s report claims this restricted coverage of mobile speed cameras, and made enforcement more predictable, which it claims reduces the deterrent effect.

According to the SMH, the number of infringements issued by mobile speed cameras in NSW has more than halved since 2014, falling from 55,473 to just 21,246 in four years.

Read next: Australians paid $1.1 billion in speeding fines last financial year

Victoria doesn’t warn motorists of speed cameras for mobile units – a system the Auditor-General wants to mimic.

However, since 2013 the road toll in Victoria has fluctuated with no discernible trend.

In a rolling 12-month period to October 17, the 2012-13 road toll in Victoria was 244, increasing to 259 in 2013-14. While there was a slight decrease to 253 in 2014-15, there was another increase in lives lost to 277 for the 12 months after, before falling again to 258 in 2016-17.

During the last year, 226 Victorians have lost their lives on the state’s roads.