The candid truth about cameras
Speed cameras aren't the answer to combat the road toll, writes Bruce McMahon
Politicians take the easy road when it comes to the dangers of driving
SURPRISE! Once Queensland authorities have the money, there is little concern about speedsters on the state's roads.
The Courier-Mail's revelation yesterday that thousands avoid losing licence points by having their companies pay extra fines -- and not identify the driver -- reinforces the notion that speed cameras are a misused element in the fight against the road toll.
The bigger concern here is that red-light runners also are escaping without any licence penalties.
Last financial year, Queensland's mobile speed cameras raised $25.5 million from 24 cameras and almost 300,000 tickets. But, according to Queensland Transport figures, more than 9000 motorists caught by cameras ducked penalty points, with companies paying a fine five times over the odds to hide the driver.
Then there are time-worn anecdotes of drivers nominating partners to carry licence demerit points, others using elderly relatives to take the fall.
Transport Minister Steve Bredhauer reckons this is not about revenue raising.
If it isn't about revenue raising, why are there fines? Why not take away the right to drive, take away the licences?
If authorities are right to concentrate on speed enforcement above all else, taking speedsters off the road would stop the road toll.
Cameras have become an official panacea for all manner of ills. For there is far more to road safety than slowing drivers down, and the road toll debate in Queensland is far too focused on cameras.
Politicians on all sides take the easy road when it comes to the dangers of driving.
There is no argument about enforcing road rules. But Queensland needs more appropriate enforcement, plus better education and engineering.
Poorly trained drivers remain a major problem, yet suggestions of better young driver training continue to fall on deaf ears. More people need to drive according to conditions, rather than just looking out for cameras.
Poorly built roads are a secondary, yet important, concern.
Queensland Transport says 32 per cent of fatalities are speed-related.
But then 27 per cent of fatalities are down to people not wearing seatbelts, and how does a speed camera catch anyone not belted up?
Road safety would be better served by mobile police patrols bagging drivers for any driving offence, not just speeding.
Perceptions, or misconceptions, become reality. The marketing of these revenue raisers -- and these cameras do raise revenue -- is wrong.
Too many times, in too many places, motorists see speed cameras at the bottom of slopes. Too many times speed cameras appear to be positioned in locations where there are no apparent signs of danger and nary a sign of an accident hot spot.
And what is the worth of a speed infringement notice appearing in the mail weeks after a driver has gone sailing past to be killed, or kill, a kilometre down the road?
If the cameras are in the right places -- places where there have been serious accidents and fatalities -- let there be signs after the camera: ``Five people died here last year.''
Let the people have some proof, some understanding of the camera's siting.
For the biggest problem on our roads is driver attitude. Too many regard driving as a chore rather than a Henry Ford-given privilege; too many are caught by cameras in strange places and the attitude toward road safety management is again skewed.
Bruce McMahon is a Courier-Mail motoring writer