Speed cameras and red light cameras are a fact of life in Australia. It’s hard to remember a time when you could go on a trip without seeing one. Currently speed and red light cameras in NSW raise around $532,000 a day from unsuspecting motorists.
The NSW government made $78 million in 2010. As more red light cameras are used at busy intersections, it could earn more than $200 million by the end of 2015. While it costs over $22 million a year to service these cameras, it takes only a few weeks to recoup the cost.
Many people are asking whether these cameras make the roads safer or whether they are just easy fundraisers for government coffers.
Roads Minister, Duncan Gay, is firm about their role. He emphasises that all revenue from cameras is put into road safety and says, “We only put speed cameras where there is a known road safety risk”.
Unfortunately, 16 more people died on the roads in NSW in the year to October 2015 than at the same time last year; 338 compared to 322. NSW has the highest number of deaths in Australia so far this year.
Across Australia, the death toll increased 3% in the year to October 2015, from 1174 to 1209. In fact, in six states and territories, more people died on the roads in 2015 than 2014.
This year’s figures are disappointing and very tragic for the families involved.
Even so, the long-term trend for road deaths in NSW is down. There were 338 in 2015 compared to 450 in 2010 with an average of 2.3% fewer deaths each year. Speed and red light cameras may have played a role in making the roads safer.
Do cameras work?
NRMA spokesman, Peter Khoury, believes cameras are inadequate. They cannot police anti-social driving, such as drug-driving:
“The most effective way to change bad driver behaviour permanently is having a high and consistent presence of clearly-marked police on our roads,” he says.
A driver caught speeding who loses double demerit points at Christmas while temporarily distracted probably does not consider herself a “bad” driver. But she could have had, or caused, an accident.
Speed and red light cameras can save some lives and they help to encourage safer driving overall. Who wants to lose money or demerit points – or pay higher insurance premiums on your CTP green slip – because of a camera?
Drive carefully to save money as well as your life.