The NSW government has announced the removal of more speed cameras.
In opposition, the current government promised to remove speed cameras without a proven safety benefit and, since coming into government, they have removed 34.
After the year’s annual Speed Camera Performance Review was released this month, another 10 are set to be decommissioned. This includes cameras at locations such as Macquarie Park, Murrurundi and West Gosford.
On October 1, the first of these 10 was switched off by Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay. He commented that it is important to remove any cameras that aren’t making a difference as they are simply using public funds.
“I am delighted today to personally help remove the first of 10 speed cameras to come out in the next few weeks across NSW,” he said.
“The Review has recommended another two be further investigated and considered for removal at Richmond Road, Berkshire Park and Great Western Highway, Hartley.”
The benefits of speed cameras are widely known in high crash areas, but if placed in the wrong site, then they don’t achieve anything other than revenue gathering. The NSW government said it was important for cameras to be strategically placed rather than just in spots where there are high volumes of traffic.
It is important to note that all fines from NSW speed cameras are now directed towards the state’s Community Road Safety Fund. This fund helps to pay for initiatives such as flashing lights.
Mr Gay highlighted several facts out of the speed camera audit that illustrate the benefits of correct placement.
“This year’s annual audit has delivered significant results, finding that fixed speed cameras have saved 53 lives and prevented 919 people from being injured in the last five years,” he explained.
“We’ve recorded a 90 per cent drop in deaths and a 40 per cent drop in injuries at these sites.”
The process of removing a speed camera is a little more complex than just switching it off though. Authorities mentioned that each area requires additional barriers, markings and signage to ensure the site is as safe as possible with the speed camera not in operation.
The NSW government is not ruling out reinstalling the speed cameras in the future, but there will need to be sufficient evidence that it is a high crash area. Extensive research will also be required to identify whether a camera is the best method to prevent accidents in that particular hotspot.
Rising in revenue over past years
While speed cameras have often been referred to as ‘revenue gathering machines’, there are few who could argue against statistics recently published in a News Corp report.
According to the article, speed camera revenue topped $155 million in the 2013/2014 financial year. This is up from $107 million in 2011/2012 and $147 million in 2012/2013.
News Corp broke the figures for the last financial year down and revealed the cameras bring in $558,000 every day.
Speed warning over the long weekend
As some of the speed cameras in NSW are switched off, state Police have urged drivers to drive safely this long weekend. To enforce this message, double demerits will be in force.
Behaviour that police will be looking out for includes speeding, using your mobile phone while driving and not wearing a seatbelt.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Stuart Ayres explained that there will be still a number of families on the road because of the school holidays.
“Motorists can expect to see increased high-visibility patrols, random drug and alcohol testing, and speed enforcement to keep our roads safe,” he said.
“This is why we’re reminding drivers to be extra careful on the roads over the next few days and get home safe.”