Signs for speed cameras

September 20th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Mike Noon from the AA writes in the Herald:

The AA is one of the leading road safety campaigners in New Zealand, we support the use of speed cameras and do not condone speeding. But let’s take a step back for a moment and consider what is the ultimate aim of the cameras? The answer is obviously getting drivers to slow down.

Fixed speed cameras (the ones mounted on permanent poles) are placed in safety black-spots where there has been a history of speed-related crashes. …

The fact that some of these cameras are still issuing thousands of tickets shows the current approach isn’t succeeding and that speeds are not being managed.

Having signs alerting drivers that there is a speed camera area or camera operating ahead will ensure more drivers slow down in these black-spots, and this has to be a good thing.

The other key point in this debate is that the AA is only calling for signs ahead of fixed speed cameras. We support the continued use of mobile cameras without signage, such as vans on the side of the road.

So if a driver chooses to slow down for a signposted fixed camera and then speed back up again, they can be caught by the anytime, anywhere mobile cameras, and of course they can be caught by police officers on patrol. Our call is not about helping drivers to avoid tickets, it’s about getting drivers to slow down and to check their speed, especially in high-risk areas.

Having signs alerting drivers to a fixed speed camera is done in Australia, Britain, and most other countries we compare ourselves to for road safety best practice.

I think the AA makes incredibly valid points, and the Police and Government should reconsider their policy. Otherwise the suspicion will remain that revenue is more important than safety.

Demerits for speed cameras

May 12th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Dearnaley in the Herald reports:

Speedsters snapped by police cameras face demerit points on their licences under road safety proposals being investigated by the Government. …

Under present law, motorists caught by speed cameras are only fined, but Transport Minister Steven Joyce has raised the prospect of demerit points as a tougher penalty.

Mr Joyce thought that would have a greater impact on high-risk drivers such as boy racers, with whom there was a problem with fines accumulating to a point where they could not be paid.

“If we can get to a position where the two things they covet most, which is their licence and their vehicles, are at risk, then I think that will improve behaviour of a group of high-risk drivers that are causing a lot of the carnage on our roads.”

I think one is better to target their vehicles than their licenses, as they will probably simply then just drive without a licence. If someone has significant unpaid fines, then impound and sell their car to help cover them.

Demerits do provide an incentive not to speed. If you get pulled over by the Police and get demerits, you do tend to take greater care that you are not exceeding the speed limit until the demerits expire.

But the problem I have with extending these to speed cameras is that you may not even know that you have been “snapped” and it is quite possible that you could be snapped three times in one day, and lose your licence without even realising it.

But there is a possible solution to that problem. You could have a rule that says if you get snapped by a speed camera within say 7 – 14 days (enough time for you to have been sent the ticket) of a previous speed camera infringement, then you only have demerits apply for the first infringement. You still get fined for both, but only demerited once.

The principle is similiar to the new regime for copyright infringement. You can only get a second strike after you have clearly been warned about your first strike.

No analysis – just reporting

August 13th, 2010 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald has a story from the UK Independent:

Earlier this month Oxfordshire council switched off every speed camera in the county and, judging by their speeds and the fanfare which accompanied the news, the drivers know it.

What they did not know, however, is that the film was left inside two of the speed cameras for a five-day test period. During that time the cameras secretly recorded the speed of passing cars.

And, while the drivers will face no prosecution, the results of the experiment proved what road safety groups feared: with the Gatso cameras out of action, drivers simply ignored the speed limit.

On Woodstock Road, 110 drivers were caught travelling at more than 35mph along the 30mph road in the five-day test period. That’s 18 per cent more than the number of drivers who used to be caught speeding in an average week.

It is a law-breaking trend which, owing to Government budget cuts, could soon be replicated across the country. And it is a situation which has provoked anger from road safety groups and senior police officers who say lives are being put at risk.

Sounds awful doesn’t it. Life without speed cameras. But let us look at what the numbers mean. The 110 drivers speeding was 18% more than normal. SO normal is 93 drivers speeding. That means over five days 17 more drivers sped, or basically three drivers a day – one every three hours.

Now we don’t know how many cars drive down Woodstock Road, so we can’t work out what the prevalence of speeding was, but let us assume a car every 30 seconds, which is around 1,000 cars during the working day.

With speed cameras there were 19 cars speeding, which is a 1.9% prevalance rate. Now it is a 2.2% rate. So the speed cameras slow down say three cars in 1,000.

So hardly the disaster the Independent reports – whose reporter obviously didn’t think to apply a critical eye to the claims of lobby groups.

Note I am not necessarily saying it was a good idea to turn speed cameras off. I am just pointing out that the effect has been minor.