SPEEDING drivers are most likely to be nabbed by mobile cameras at lunchtime on work days, police documents suggest. But the cameras are rarely in action between midnight and dawn. A Herald Sun analysis of the 54 police district graphs shows almost two in three districts face major changes to when they book drivers.I've never attributed this to "revenue raising" as is suggested in the article. After all, there are many more cars on the road and just because the traffic is heavy, it doesn't necessarily mean the cars are going substantially slower. I've always thought the reason was that police have never been confident that the cameras can accurately differentiate between speeding and non-speeding cars in heavy traffic. If, as is suggested in the article, the cameras are now going to be let loose on the peak-hour public, expect plenty more "doubt" to be cast on their readings. Doubt. Just what the issue needs more of. Not that the police themselves aren't concerned:
THE damaging speed camera leak is evidence of growing concern within police ranks about the way the devices are used in Victoria. The Herald Sun has seen the contents of a confidential police computer file and e-mails sent between some of the highest ranked police in the state. The disc contains the police's own camera audit, titled Safety Camera Submission Analysis 2003. The e-mails show that the police's state traffic adviser, Superintendent Harry Hayes, had been seeking road crash trauma data on a localised level for two years. The data would be linked with actual speed camera use to provide statistical evidence to ensure the devices were being used at the right time to deter dangerous driving. Superintendent Hayes e-mailed Assistant Commissioner Noel Ashby at 5.03pm on October 27, declaring how he had requested the expanded data on a number of occasions for two years.And it's not just the cynical placement of cameras - bottom of hills, short distances into reduced speed zones - that's an issue. A regular complaint is the placement of speed-limit signs. The following was unlinked in yesterday's Hun:
Hidden sign of troubleHidden is right. I've been going past that school every work-day for the last two years and I never knew the sign was there. More annoying, though, are the other 1,456,987 (or something like that) signs in the general vicinity along Hoddle Street. Anyway, it will be a revenue bonanza. Traffic along Hoddle is heavy all through the day and the speed limit 70 kph. To suddenly have to remember to drop to 40 kph at selected times is bound to prove difficult. And expensive. Will there be accidents too? As drivers suddenly remember and hit the brakes. All in all, the speed camera fiasco has been a complete balls-up. The editor:
VICROADS has conceded that a 40km/h speed limit sign hidden behind trees on Hoddle St was wrongly placed. The sign was recently erected under the State Government's policy to enforce 40km/h limits in school zones during certain hours. Located near Victoria Pde for north-bound motorists, it is obscured by trees on the footpath. The sign serves St John's Catholic primary school in East Melbourne, at the corner of Hoddle St and Victoria Pde. RACV public policy manager Ken Ogden said he was puzzled by the sign's location. "You can't put signs behind trees, it defeats the purpose of having them," he said. "They must be visible." Mr Ogden also questioned the need for the low limit on main roads well-served by pedestrian crossings with signals. VicRoads metropolitan north-west regional manager Bruce Gidley said the sign's location was inappropriate. Mr Gidley said the tree density made it hard for contractors to make it visible. "It's a new sign and we should have done better than that," he said. Mr Gidley said the problem would be fixed over the weekend. He said 40km/h school zone limits were appropriate for main roads such as Hoddle St, which slowed during peak times. The limits outside 1300 schools will drop from 60-70km/h to 40km/h from 8am to 9.30am and from 2.30pm to 4pm.
IT'S time the Bracks Government came clean with Victorians over its clash of priorities between saving lives and gathering revenue from speed cameras. Today the Herald Sun presents further unsettling information, which may confirm the perception that behind the concern for the road toll lurks the grubby motive of slugging motorists. Records obtained by the Herald Sun show that mobile cameras are being used most at low crash risk times, such as midday during the working week, but far less at dangerous peak hour times or nights. The reason? On the surface it appears simply to be inefficient use of police resources, but this has coincided with increased revenue collection. Acting Assistant Commissioner Bob Hastings denies any revenue motive and points out that times of use of the mobile cameras are being altered across police districts to prioritise road safety. It is reassuring to know he is taking action. But the fact that information has been leaked about the traffic intelligence unit indicates the distress many officers feel over wider government priorities. It's time for the Bracks Government to release to the public the priorities and working guidelines on how mobile cameras and the 47 fixed speed cameras are operated.Yet all of a sudden there are dissenting figures in today's Hun:
THE number of motorists booked by mobile speed cameras plunged more than 30 per cent in the three months to September, the latest Victoria Police crime figures reveal.September minus three? That's June. Coincidentally, it's then the first speed camera boo-boo was revealed. Could it be the government instructed the cops to ease up while the heat was on. Are we to believe a third of the driving population suddenly decided to start driving slower? I don't think so. Of course, Andre Haermeyer is nowhere to be seen. The job's left to his very overworked spokesman, George Svigos, who gets to take the heat while maintaining the party line:
George Svigos, spokes man for Police Minister Andre Haermeyer, said the reduction in fines showed motorists were getting the message and slowing down. "Speed enforcement is saving lives," he said. "Approximately 50 more people will sit down to Christmas dinner with their families this year than last year. "Victoria is on track for its lowest road toll since records began in 1952.This line is a total furphy. The road toll has been decreasing steadily since about 1970. This year will, and should, continue the trend. It would be interesting to see how often minor speeding (just over the limit) contributes to accidents compared with drink-driving, careless driving (including hoonism), car conditions, weather conditions, road conditions and downright bad luck.