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N/A | National The Speed Camera Swindle

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by Mouth, Jan 1, 2016.

  1. We recently had a great opportunity with a former Class 1 Police Advanced Driver in the Metropolitan Police (London), asking questions related to the tactics and effectiveness of speed cameras in Western Australia, using international experience and current career as a reputable base line.

    The following detailed response has been prepared about covert speed cameras, please take the time to read in full and further develop or reinforce your understanding of ‘speed’.


    I have been driving cars and riding motorcycles for over 35 years. For 25 of those years I drove in England before immigrating to Western Australia (WA) just over ten years ago. Whilst in England I served for 20 years in the Metropolitan Police (London) during which I underwent a number driving courses, the last of which saw me qualify as a Class 1 Advanced (Police) Driver. This authorised me to operate high-powered pursuit vehicles, as well as vans, riot buses and of course general patrol vehicles. Shortly after arriving in WA, I became an investigator and for 10 years a significant part of my role has been the investigation of road traffic crashes.

    When I left England, covert speed cameras were not used; in fact the speed cameras we did have were fixed, painted bright yellow and warning signs were placed for a mile in every direction around the camera. In high-risk areas (accident black spots) the authorities wanted people to be aware of the danger, to check their speed and to slow down. Fixed, overt speed cameras accomplished the desired effect.

    I have heard government and police rhetoric in WA, claiming covert speed cameras are mainly placed in ‘accident black-spots’. Not only is this absolutely not my experience, but to me it seems a ridiculous statement. If you want people to slow down through these high-risk areas, you clearly won’t accomplish it by hiding a camera and informing drivers a few weeks later of their transgression.

    Covert cameras have absolutely no immediate effect on road safety. Their use in road safety terms is designed to change people’s driving habits in the long term. But how does their use affect driving habits and are there any unwanted effects resulting from their use?

    Since my arrival, the use of covert speed cameras has increased dramatically, yet in my opinion the standard of driving and safety on our roads has noticeably decreased. Of course there are many variables that can affect road use and safety, which makes accurately identifying the causes of crashes through statistics extremely difficult. Every crash survey published includes the caveat that crash data can be affected by many unknown variables, which in effect questions the results. For example, a minute percentage of vehicle crashes benefit from the attentions of a forensic vehicle examiner and witness’ evidence regarding speed is usually extremely unreliable; yet we are somehow told a high percentage of vehicle crashes are caused due to excessive speed. Of course, excessive speed is a factor in some crashes and it’s undeniable that the severity of injury will increase with speed, but surely we should be concentrating more on improving driving standards and overall road safety.

    There are an infinite number of reasons why crashes occur, but the main causes in my experience are inattention and ineptitude. Unfortunately, driving standards on-the-whole in WA are lacking and I place a lot of the blame at the door of authorities.

    I cannot comment firsthand on driver training in WA, but having listened to young people tell me what they weren’t taught by their instructors, I can deduce that driver training isn’t as comprehensive as it should be. It’s also noticeable how many people are taught to drive by family and friends, which in my experience usually just perpetuates bad habits. One thing I have noticed is the lack of ‘forward vision’ demonstrated by a significant number of drivers. So many drivers seem to stare at the back of the vehicle in front of them and look no further. Forward vision involves looking a long way ahead and noticing hazards in advance. You can then plan your action and avoid having to react at the last second.

    One of the main issues I believe to blame for inattention and ineptitude in WA is speed control and by this I mean two main factors working together, i.e. speed limits and covert speed cameras. Whilst some sort of speed control is essential on public roads, it is my contention that the way WA sets its speed limits and uses covert speed cameras, not only leads to inattention and ineptitude, but is also detrimental to road safety.

    In my opinion, speed limits on major roads in WA are predominantly too low. I had never heard the term ‘the 85th percentile rule’ before coming to WA, but I was always aware of a ‘comfortable speed’. In effect, the rule states that left to their own devises 85 percent of people will drive at a safe and comfortable speed. There are stretches of road that have hidden hazards, but as a rule drivers will travel at a speed they know to be safe, taking into account vision, hazards, the standard of the road and many other factors. Whilst I appreciate this rule might not always be prudently applied to inner-city and residential roads, it certainly has an application in most other roads.

    Today’s vehicles are quieter, smoother, and safer. We have automatic gearboxes, ABS, stability control, AWD, airbags and crumple zones. We even have vehicles that warn you when you’re straying from your lane or brake for you if you get too close to the vehicle in front. Despite all these improvements and the ‘stopping distance’ of vehicles having being dramatically reduced; every year our speed limits get lower.

    In fact, speed limits in WA are no longer viewed as limits, but more as the speed you should be travelling. I have lost count of the number of times I have heard people complain about following a vehicle that wasn’t driving at the speed limit. The limits on our roads (especially major roads and country roads) are often so much lower than the ‘comfortable speed’ or the ’85th percentile’ that drivers feel uncomfortable and extremely frustrated. This results in almost everyone trying to drive exactly on the limit and consequently they become very frustrated with anyone driving under that limit. The authorities also appear to have bought into this way of thinking, as we now have a huge number of speed limit changes on small stretches of road. It’s as if they are telling drivers exactly what speed they want them to travel at instead of warning drivers about hazards and letting them make their own decisions on speed.

    So in my opinion, the slow limits and the proliferation of speed limit changes, are effectively removing all decision making from the driver and we are encouraged to blindly follow the road signage. This would be all-good if speed was the only factor responsible for traffic crashes, but of course it’s not.

    Since arriving in WA, I have found a state full of drivers obsessed by speed limits and I admit I have become one of them. If drivers were obsessed by driving safely to the conditions then that would be a good thing, but they’re not; it’s all about travelling at a speed prescribed by faceless engineers, who use questionable statistics, outdated equations and short-sighted road safety theories, to arrive at the limit.

    In my opinion, our obsession with speed limits can be laid squarely at the door of authorities, who actively pursue their anti-speed campaigns, yet give little time to other, more prevalent causes of crashes. For instance, only lip-service is given to driving whilst intoxicated or using mobile telephones whilst driving and the penalties for speeding offences are disproportionately high when compared to many more serious road traffic offences.

    As previously stated, in my experience the vast majority of crashes occur whilst drivers are within the prescribed speed limits, due to inattention and ineptitude, and speed cameras do absolutely nothing to prevent them, yet, year-on-year we hear of the authorities pumping extra money into speed enforcement and devising new and wonderful ways to catch drivers exceeding the limits. If this was aimed at dangerous drivers then I would wholeheartedly agree with the policy, but it’s not. The huge majority of fines are issued to drivers exceeding the limit by as little as 7 to 19 kilometres-per-hour, on major roads; e.g. wide, straight and well-conditioned roads, with no residences, limited hazards and crucially, speed limits that have been set too low.

    I suspect covert speed cameras might have initially been introduced with good intentions, but it was quickly realised just how much money can be made from them. This 2015-16 financial year, $97.7 million has been allocated within state budget to be raised in WA from these cameras and it has become a major tax on motorists. I understand the government has to raise taxes, but this is not just an unfair tax in my opinion; I also believe it is an impediment to road safety.

    A major concern of mine is the extremely small tolerance afforded by covert speed cameras on our faster roads. Seven kilometres-per-hour over a 110 kph limit is insignificant, especially if you’re the only vehicle travelling on a dual-carriageway such as the Brand or Forrest Highways, yet you can expect a $100 fine should you get caught.

    I know England is not the be-all-and-end-all of road safety, but on major roads and motorways the speed limit is 70 mph, i.e. 113 kph. Not much difference; however, the average speed on a flowing UK motorway is between 80 and 90 mph (129 to 145 kph) and the police won’t bother you, if you’re driving safely and to the conditions, until you exceed 85 mph (137 kph).

    On our major roads, the low speed limits, coupled with the excessive use of covert speed cameras and the very low tolerance they afford, leads to the majority of drivers using cruise control to remain at or under the speed limit. It leads to many drivers having an obsession with knowing exactly what speed they are travelling and constantly checking their speedometer rather than fully concentrating on the road. We will always have idiots that use our roads as race tracks, but as the 85th percentile rule states, the large majority of drivers are reasonable and prudent and will drive at a safe speed for the conditions. Why then do we insist on punishing people for marginally exceeding the limits, rather than concentrating on catching genuinely dangerous drivers including those within the speed limits?

    Before coming to WA, I had never used the cruise control function in a vehicle and I believe it is somewhat dangerous. If you have to set the cruise control to make sure you don’t accidentally drift 10 kph over the limit, then the limits and tolerances need to be seriously considered. Cruise control effectively lets the car propel itself while we sit back and relax in the perceived knowledge that we are safe, as we are driving to the prescribed speed limit. Is it any wonder we lose concentration and focus, leading to serious high-speed crashes?

    This week I heard someone complain that he was driving out of Perth for the holidays in a vehicle without cruise control. He said this would be a far from enjoyable experience due to the number of covert speed cameras, their low tolerance and double demerits. He said the fact that he didn’t have cruise control would mean having to check his speedometer every few seconds instead of focusing on driving safely. I understood his trepidation and whatever way you look at it, the more focus you have to put on your speedometer, the less you are putting on the road.

    I am also very concerned about the locations of speed cameras and the actions of speed camera operators. It is clear that speed camera operators and authorities have been given targets to achieve, which in itself has absolutely nothing to do with road safety and everything to do with raising revenue.

    Covert speed cameras are routinely positioned on major highways and freeways where accidental speeding is expected, because authorities realise the difficulties in driving within the limits on these roads and know they will reap the rewards. The large majority of the people caught are low-level speeders who accidentally exceed the limit, but in most instances have not in any way driven dangerously. Dangerous drivers are rarely caught by cameras and every time one is caught it makes the state-wide news. Even then, most of the times we hear of people driving in excess of 150 on a freeway or highway; it’s during the early hours of the morning on empty roads. I’m not for one minute condoning this type of action; just pointing out that it is extremely rare and cannot be used as justification for covert speed cameras.

    I find it impossible to understand the use of covert speed cameras on roads such as Tonkin Highway, south of Welshpool, after 9pm, during the week, yet cameras are routinely placed on that stretch of road. I’m sure there are many other examples of well maintained and designed dual carriageways, travelling through unpopulated areas, where hidden cameras are waiting to capture drivers who stray slightly over the speed limit. In my opinion this is not only just revenue raising, but is also likely to cause more accidents due to inattention.

    Covert speed cameras in WA are simply revenue raising tools and in many cases are actually contrary to road safety. If as much effort was put into driver education and intelligent road design, I’m sure the road toll would decrease markedly. A simple project would be to install cat’s-eyes on many more of our unlit, rural and semi-rural roads. I’ve lost count of the number of drivers who accidentally touch the gravel verge at night, leading to some extremely serious consequences. Unfortunately these types of projects cost money and show no financial return.

    Efforts by protesters have also led to some worrying changes in tactics by camera operators. Not only are they often lying to the police in an attempt to have protesters moved on, but they are increasingly moving location as soon as they realise drivers are being alerted to a camera’s location. I’m sure they’d say people are now slowing down at this location so they’ll go somewhere else to slow drivers down, but they’re not slowing anyone down by hiding in bushes and camouflaging their cameras. I’ve also noticed more cameras at the bottom of hills and on desolate highways where protests are less likely, as well as shortly before and after changes in the speed limit. The covert camera operators are actively trying to maintain their targets by using evermore duplicitous tactics to offset the effect of protests. This in my opinion has nothing at all to do with road safety, but everything to do with profit and filling state government coffers.

    In summary; I believe the way covert speed cameras are used in WA has little effect on road safety and in many ways they are actually detrimental to road safety and good driving practices. I believe their proliferation is all about revenue raising and very little to do with road safety. I also believe that to protect the revenue they produce; authorities will fight tooth-and-nail to justify the continued use of covert speed cameras, by misrepresenting the facts and brainwashing citizens about their effectiveness and deployment.

    Ref: RevenueRaiserResistance.com/camera-swindle
    • Winner Winner x 15
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  2. #2 GekuL, Jan 2, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2016
    you should consider yourself lucky you're not in NSW you would be appalled by the cager ineptitude and/or enforcement or "rules". it seems like some days you may find yourself dealing with a rozzer who is aware that not all the rules are the best way to prevent/eliminate danger and some who think that the way it is written is the way it should be applied.

    Nothing quite keeps you on your toes like commuting in NSW
  3. And the fact that greed cameras in Australia are operated by a private ( profit motivated ) company has absolutely nothing to do with the duplicitous nature of their use.....Noooooooooo....

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  4. His statement is a result of his experience in WA - but is equally applicable to most other states within Australia.

    One thing in particular:

    So with all the anti-speed campaigns, the government not only still expects that people will continue to speed - they are dependent on it for their budget! This is beyond hypocritical.

    Revenue from fines should not be permitted to be allocated in any budget planning. Any money raised from fines should be above and beyond what is required. This puts pressure on all involved to make sure that they reach (or exceed) that budget figure, and the focus becomes on revenue instead of safety.

    IMO Mr Class 1 Police Advanced Driver from London has spoken nothing but truth. I know many people (including myself) who use cruise control not only on major roads, but also in town (even down to 40kph zones) to ensure that we do not get a ticket. I have been told numerous times by various police members that this increases risk - but with so much focus on the evil 5kph over the limit and the authorities out to use any means necessary to continue to take money from me - I will use any and all options available at my disposal to counter them.

    I have no doubt that without cruise control we wouldn't have a significant reduction with the problems that we currently see on multi lane roads such as vehicles in the right lane 'overtaking' at 1kph faster than the vehicle to their left because they both have cruise set on instead of simply adjusting the speed slighly whilst behind the vehicle in front, or increasing the speed to a practical amount to overtaken in a timely fashion.

    Instead of dealing with truth and facts, governments use propaganda and tactics. Instead of encouraging discussions and debates that all might learn - they are for 'reeducation' forcing their statements upon others. This itself is a significant threat that goes well beyond simple fines.

    All the while the general quality of driving gets worse, authorities continue to complain about the road toll whilst continuing to support it through their narrow vision and straight out dishonesty.
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  5. All revenue should be donated to charity - a reputable one like the Salvation Army where 90 odd % goes to the needy not a CEO. Problem solved, no gov't revenue for them to chase - chase phone users and tailgaters!
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  6. I'd be prepared to fly to Western Australian and buy that Police Officer a cup of coffee. What he says is so spot on.

    We are set up to fail with speed limits that are too low and speed margins that are too tight.

    There is a huge disconnect between someone being caught a few Ks over the limit on a quiet good road and an idiot red P plater who kills themselves at more than double the speed limit.

    One does not justify the other.

    In QLD most of the ads have now gone off TV. The government have stopped pretending this is about road safety. It is just a tax, however it is a tax that insults our character, conduct and competence.

    Covert speed cameras detect one "offence" and one offence only, whereas road safety could so easily be improved with highly visible police patrols checking for a range of dangerous offences.
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  7. I must admit that I am now one of those people who is looking far to frequently at my speedo when on the bike (no cruise control) and I put the cruise control on the car to ensure I am under the speed limit when traveling on Highways. I have been stung too often for a small margin over the speed limit, the whole situation has become ludicrous in Victoria.

    The major turning point for me occurred a couple of years ago when I was booked for 102 in a 100 zone. The situation occurred on a highway less than 200m after a change of speed sign from 110 to 100. The police were traveling in an unmarked car on the opposite side of the highway, they performed a U-Turn and caught up to me very quickly.

    I asked if they could give me some leniency as I was only just over the limit, "Don't you know speed kills" they told me then pointed out my indicated speed was 105 and they had already shown some. I asked if they could show me the radar in their vehicle, they seemed quite happy to do this, when I looked I was a little confused as there were 2 numbers displayed prominently, I asked what the 2nd number was, which they told me was their speed. They were traveling at 132 in a 100 zone. I thought hard for a moment, I wanted to say "Don't you know speed kills", but held my tongue.
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  8. Man, I would have been tempted to have taken a photo of that, and if asked why - tell them that I am putting in a formal complaint to the OPI about them speeding with no reason. Doing 132 whilst coming towards you with no legal reason is a far worse breach of the road regulations, and having actual police evidence to back up your claim... It still might not go anywhere, but 5kph over the limit in that situation is complete BS, and they'd deserve to be questioned even if it didn't go anywhere...

    These guys do more damage to the force's reputation and the other many good members around.
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  9. There is a new breed of driver on our roads that believe that because they are doing 55 in a 60 zone they are 'safe'. Never mind that they seem to be the ones going thru amber lights ( not red yet!) and will still be doing 55 in a 40 zone. ( not paying attention?).
    Speed doesnt kill. A sudden stop does. The bit in the middle is the one that should have our attention.
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  10. Really makes you wonder doesn't it.
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  11. speed camera hate aside..
    can't keep a vehicle at a constant speed for more than a few seconds? how do these people keep their licences? :p

    If someone can't drive safely AND keep a constant speed... do they deserve the right to endanger other people on the road?
    I wonder, if they are "driving safely", how much their speed would vary without them noticing?

    speed cameras, covert or otherwise, will never change behaviour if people think the pain of fines and demerit points is not enough to deter them from learning how to drive. no-one wants 1 in 10 cars on the road to be a cop car... or 1 in 100... too expensive for such a simple problem (people NGAF)
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  12. Problem is you sit on a hwy in a new car and 110kmh is just so slow for the car and the road condition, without constantly checking you will just naturally gain speed as it feels correct for the vehicle and road - car barely notice sometime you're now doing 120-130 because it is still safe speed for the road. Checking speedo all the time though distracts from the road.

    As mentioned in the other speed camera legalized govt theft thread, drive an autobarn and you'll notice so much more of your attention is on the actual road and traffic - speed you're travelling just follows what is safe for car and road condition
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  13. for these people that can't check speedo and drive safely (and are in new cars), do they check their mirrors (all 3) or is that too distracting also?
    yes, easy for speed to creep up in a new car... but it's also easy to keep a constant speed.. you just need to give enough of a shit to actually pay attention..

    only watching speedo and not watching road as well is of course stupid behaviour, but does anyone actually do that? if they did, then they would hit something the first time they needed to turn the steering wheel.. but that doesn't actually happen... "Oh no, I can't turn the corner because I have to watch my speeeedoooooo"...

    it's like the assertions that you can EITHER wear ATGATT, OR you can ride safely, but you can't do both (because wearing gear makes you feel so safe you ride like a numpty :p )

    one difference between Aussie multilane HWY and Autobahn is that the speed differential is a bit lower, but even then, those doing 20-30k's above limit here can't seem to overtake sensibly can they? :)
    but, imagine there was no speed differential, and everyone doing the same speed (limit)... cars just get to where they are going.... which is the point right? :p

    only problem with "safe" is that everyone has a different idea of "safe" and as you know, some peoples idea of "safe" is not very...
    but speed cameras won't help people who don't give a shit about rules
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  14. the thing he hasn't come to terms with it that he is assuming that people are not idiots...
    ineptitude comes from the people, not from the speed cameras... there are a lot of idiots in Aus.. perhaps more than the UK?

    anyway, I'm done :wacky:
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  15. I agree there are some whose idea of safe will not be so. That said, why would keeping a constant speed be better / good / ideal? Road conditions are always changing and speed should be adjusted accordingly. Main difference between Autobarns and our hwys is amount of lanes - that though, that's not to say a version of that system would not work. Checking mirrors etc, is part of viewing the road - speedo is not the road, like changing a radio station, or checking your text is not the road. It provides information though which you use, but requires you avert your attention - albeit momentarily. Depends whats happening on the road in that moment maybe. See a speed camera whats the first thing you do? Wouldn't be a good time for car in front to brake, or one next to you to veer into your lane.

    Anyway, the argument is about how policing / management of our road systems for safety and the gov't eternal search for revenue based on speeding tickets is becoming divergent. As the cop noted often it is anathema to actual road safety. I am much more worried when on the road by the car swerving around due to texting etc than I am the guy a few to a good few kms over the limit - guy has to be balling along before the hazard metre reaches same level as it does as having a P plater up ya clacker or a car that can't keep its lane.

    Is why I suggested all fines go to charity - remove incentive for authorities to see it as a revenue raising source and they might focus on all aspects of safety. As KingdomKingdom illustrated his transgression had nothing to do with being unsafe, but everything to do with further taxing the populace. Cop might have written himself a ticket had it been!
  16. totally agree with your points :) but I reckon people should be able to check speedo often enough to not accidentally gain 10k's an hour

    speed limits are not set at the maximum a road can handle, there is often a huge safety margin.
    if everyone keeps to the same speed, then people are less distracted by trying to overtake all the time.. but Aussies like to WIN at driving all the time :) (me too sometimes)
    oooh... is that a justification FOR covert speed cameras? :) heh heh

    yup, spot on.
    it's dumb shits that are the problem.. and the headline problems come when dumb shits do dumb things at high speed and come unstuck, and take out innocents..
    it is true, and the "authorities" know, that it is less easy to come unstuck at lower speed, and the resulting damage is also lower... but they have also realised that people just don't care about that.. which is why the money stick is being waved around.. for better or for worse.. mostly worse...

    I always wonder what would be a big enough motivator for people to stop killing each other on the road (the accidental ones, not the suicides).... what do you think would work for 100% of the population?
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  17. I see the covert ones too!

    As the cop who wrote the article says the authorities now are further changing speed limits, down in stupid places to gain further speed revenue etc etc etc. Overt cameras in backspots have been shown to improve incident statistic in those spots (revenue drops), make them covert (revenue increases) incidents?

    Their actions clearly show their priorities are revenue first, safety second. Every second day they have a speed campaign on the road - I'd just once like them to have a tailergater campaign.
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  18. Well, I just got flashed by a covert camera today (in me van, not me bike). Hopefully less than 10 over but I'll know in a couple of weeks.

    A large percentage of WA drivers are incapable of maintaining speed to better than + or - about 20 kmh without the use of cruise control.
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  19. I don't know oldcorollas, your expecting people to listen and actually understand the feel of the car/bike?
    How could one possibly do that inbetween checking facebook,checking mirrors, scanning for covert speed camera vans and taking selfies?

    No doubt the decades of experience and international contradiction will be thrown out and disputed by the millions of dollars out government spend on 'Research'.
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  20. I think the problem is less about "driver education"... and more about the lack of "education" :)

    you raise a good point (among many).. I wonder if scanning for covert speed cameras all the time is more distracting than actually looking at speedo?:)
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