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Old 01-22-2003, 16:00   #1 (permalink)
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NRMA Have Become Puppets of the NSW Revenue Chasing Government

In the Jan/feb issue of the NRMA's magazine titled 'The Open Road' there's an article titled 'Flash and Grab'. The intro states "Speed cameras: essential safety tools or revenue grabbers".

Well, I thought we might finally be having a balanced viewpoint given in a public forum but alas it was a regurgitation of NSW Government skewed statistics

So, in true AP style I've drafted a letter. See my next post which is very long but hopefully some of you might see fit to proof read it and maybe offer some constructive comments before I send it in.

I'll try and scan the article ASAP and post it.
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Old 01-22-2003, 16:01   #2 (permalink)
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Reference; Flash and Grab


Dear Sir/Madam,

It was with great interest that I read the article titled 'Flash and Grab' in the Jan/Feb 2003 issue. My first hopes were that the NRMA would finally be fulfilling its role as a representative of motorist's interests - its members.

However, reading the article I find it is a regurgitation of skewed statistics and statements from the government who are caught in a myopic daze of solving our road trauma problems by making everyone drive slower.

I have a very skeptical approach to statistics. In the case of the article my first questions are raised when I see only 553 drivers were polled to provide approval rating for speed cameras. When was the poll conducted? What was the range of demographics? How many were professional drivers or drivers who travel above average distances? What were the exact questions (i.e. did they lead towards an answer)? Were the polled drivers given misleading statistics (see later in this article)? Were the drivers aware of numerous camera sites where accidents increased?

The reason I ask is that I conducted my own poll amongst colleagues and found less than half support speed cameras and almost all said cameras were about making money. The difference between your poll and mine is that I would not publish my results knowing full well that I haven't got supporting data to publish with it.

Further into the article the author gives statistics showing that road deaths have increased this year. Not surprisingly, a statement follows stating that our government assessed 45 percent of fatal accidents as being related to speed. "Related"? What is the definition of related? If I am correct this can include cases where the vehicle was traveling within the speed limit, yet the accident investigators believed the car was traveling too fast for the prevailing conditions. How can a speed camera solve this problem? How can a camera replace the ability of a real Police officer making a general assessment of driver's behaviour?

The article also makes a summary of the measures introduced by Carl Scully, Minister for Roads late in 2002. These measures were amazing not for the fact they occurred (who would criticize a minister for being proactive at reducing road trauma), but because they concentrated solely on speed and introducing further means to penalize motorists.

Within the new measures is significant resources being targeted at school zones. This was no doubt a result of a series of deaths in 2002 within school areas. However, a quick check shows that the deaths were related to very low speed incidents caused by driver errors or plain carelessness. How are these speed cameras going to stop this behaviour? Why are Police involved in "a program of targeted police speed enforcement" around 65 schools? Why aren't these police sent to school zones to target negligent driving, illegal parking, jay walking, illegal u-turns and other behaviour which leads to most accidents in these areas. Why isn't money being spent on pedestrian barriers and safe road crossings?

The parents who provide the logistics for school children have many bad habits that endanger their own children, yet the solution is more speed enforcement. I cannot help but wonder whether this speed enforcement has anything to do with all the new school zones rolled out onto major arterial roads where cars reducing speed to 40km/h cause traffic chaos (for the record I agree with 40km/h school zones where appropriate and do not in any way condone speeding in these areas). I predict a revenue windfall and absolute traffic chaos on these arterial roads.

The NRMA then goes on to ask "Do Cameras Work?" The article states that "there is strong evidence emerging that speed cameras reduce crash rates. A sample of 20 cameras across NSW has shown a decrease of more than 20 percent in the number of crashes per kilometer per year near the cameras." This has me wondering why such statistics are provided by the government, and why they would be published blindly by the NRMA without question. Why only a sample of 20 of (presumably) a total of 66 cameras? What were the statistical intervals or spreads of these selected 20 sites before the statistical period? What happened at the other 46 sites (crashes up or down)? What is the purpose of introducing the 'per kilometre' factor when we are talking about sites near a camera anyhow?

Finally, at the end of the article the author states that the "NRMAÖ believes that revenue raised from fixed speed cameras should be directed to road safety research and community projects". The irony is real when the reader notes that the NRMA follows this with a "Nominate a Camera Site" coupon. The inference is that the revenue being raised should be put into paying for more speed cameras.

This allocation of revenue issue is an interesting one. As a representative of its members where does (or has) the NRMA ever investigated where this money goes. We all know it goes into 'consolidated revenue', however surely the NRMA should investigate and track where government spending has placed this money? Has spending on road safety initiatives at camera sites (the accident risk spots using the definition of 'blacklengths') increased in line with the revenue being collected?

All this criticism of the NRMA has a purpose. I would suggest the following measures which should be undertaken by the NRMA:

1. The NRMA should be serving its members, not acting as a media arm of the government
2. The NRMA should closely analyze and constructively question statistics, statements, and measures made by or introduced by the government related to 'road safety'
3. both fixed and mobile speed camera sites should be investigated where road trauma is not a direct reason for camera placement (e.g. General Holmes Drive in Sydney)
4. speed camera sites should be at the exact location of known accident blackspots, not on the same road section 'blacklength' (e.g. examples where the camera is on a straight section of road and the accidents are happening at the reverse cambered corner up the road)
5. support a balanced approach to road safety involving driver behaviours such as keeping left, vehicle maintenance, vehicle loading, lane changing
6. support a highly visible police presence as opposed to a camera net
7. reassess speed limits such that they fairly reflect all three major considerations (mobility, amenity, and safety) and oppose speed cameras where speed limits have recently been reduced or road standard increased (e.g reduction of speed limit on General Holmes Drive from 90 to 70km/h with simultaneous road upgrade and installation of two speed cameras)
8. investigate the increase of open road freeway speed limits, or removal of such limits, to combat driver fatigue and provide adequate mobility (as per the approach of the Northern Territory)
9. ensure government introduced measures for 'road safety' reflect the causes of accidents (i.e. the school zone deaths causing measures against speed)
10. lobby against low tolerance and hidden speed camera enforcement which cannot be complied with by motorists such as that being practiced in Victoria
11. lobby for improved driver education similar to that delivered to motorcycle and truck licence applicants which has proven over a statistical period exceeding 10 years, to dramatically reduce road trauma

Summary

The NRMA appears to have forgotten it has a mandate to serve its members. It must act for its members' interests and that includes ensuring the government introduces a balanced approach to making our road travels safer every day. This is not the case with a government that rolls out revenue cameras as an answer to every road safety problem.

The NRMA must question and accurately analyze statements and statistics from the government and ensure this analysis is made available to members and the general public. The NRMA has a duty to deliver all valid information to its members and this necessitates audits of government programs.

Above all, the NRMA is responsible for ensuring the best solutions are provided to its members, the motorists. This is not the case today, as evidenced by the subject article.


I would appreciate comment from the NRMA on the above issues.


Yours Sincerely,




AP.
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Old 01-22-2003, 17:18   #3 (permalink)
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Good work Agent Pete. Reads pretty well to me!! Hopefully they will actually take the time to reply ...

Perhaps I should break out my own PenOfWrathAndLogic© and join in on the action...
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Old 01-22-2003, 17:21   #4 (permalink)
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If you think NSW is bad, come to Victoria!! I believe that speed cameras should be used to deter speed, but then different people have different opinions on how to use them to deter speed. When they are placed in certain spots etc to get maximum results, then it's nothing more than revenue raising which really pisses me off. However, I find some people to be stupid, for example, there are huge signs on the Western Ring rd that say, Speed Cameras operating in area, yet people still fly past me doing 110-120km/hr, I kid you not! I would be less irritated if the money raised was used to be put back into road safety etc though. I just try to stay under the limit and watch out for cameras, the odd toyota/holden that sits on the road sticks out like a sore tooth. Speed does kill, but I don't think speed cameras stop the majority of people from speeding in the end.
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Old 01-22-2003, 17:29   #5 (permalink)
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You see guys, thatís were you both get it wrong Ė youíre trying to use logic on an organization that has the need to spend $63 million of itís members money on legal battles over the make up of the board of directors!

If thereís anything thatís (unfortunately) a bigger joke than the NSW state government handling of the road toll statistics and their use of them to justify blatant revenue raising, itís the NRMA and their handling of ANYTHING since de-mutualisation.

To make matters worse, look at how the sheep in Victoria re-elected the ďSpeed Camera PartyĒ with an even bigger majority Ė what chance to we have here in NSW with Baby John Brogden facing off against His Imperial Majesty Bob ďIíve got such a majority I donít need to listen to anyone elseís opinionĒ Carr.

Letís face it guys, weíre screwed for another 4 years!
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Old 01-22-2003, 17:41   #6 (permalink)
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maybe you should throw in something about the terrible conditions of our roadscausing accidents rather than speed. people only slow down in these areas as they KNOW there is a camera there, then speed up again. I am sure if they looked into the crash rate at the areas just before and after speed camera areas they will find a higher accident rate. So going by that, how the hell are speed cameras making it safer? what a load of crap
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Old 01-22-2003, 17:55   #7 (permalink)
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Too long to get fully published Pete (unless you buy a 1 page ad?) but I love what you have written.
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Old 01-22-2003, 18:39   #8 (permalink)
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A very good read Pete, well said, pity the "People in the know" don't think like you.

Iím about to babble, so please bare with me, I have said most of these points in other forums, so you have probably read them before.

SPEEDING

Highways and freeways in our cities are perfect examples of 21st century engineering, policed by people relying on laws that have failed to keep up. I know of some roads that were built with speeds exceeding 160km/h, but are policed at 100km/h. Some major dual lane roads should not have speed limits (to an extent, eg not over 160km/h), drivers should be able to drive at their own limits, but this would require drivers to use their brains, undoing years of government training not to use them. This would also dramatically reduce fatigue accidents, as the drivers stay alert.


FATIGUE

Fatigue would be the biggest killer on our roads, we are driving modern cars on autobahn style roads that are using pre-dated speed limits, this would be the perfect recipe to fall asleep at the wheel. What are our Governments doing to stop this? Lowering the speed limit!! My personal experience with this is driving interstate. At 110km/h I was getting bored and not concentrating, at 130km/h I was wide-awake and aware of my surrounding conditions, but according to the Government, at that speed, Iím a danger to society.

DRIVER TRAINING

Driver training should be high on the Governments list of priorities when it comes to road safety, how many bad drivers have you seem on the roads? I see them every day. I know how to handle a car in a slide, how to brake hard without locking the wheels, all this due to my motor sport background. My mother has never had a speeding ticket, and only had one accident (she is 60), but she is considered a more experienced driver than me. I hate driving with her, she drives in the top lane under the speed limit, she cuts people off, and doesnít indicate, not to mention the time she pulled out of a side road and lost traction, planted her foot hard on the brake and held the wheel straight. She ended up facing the on coming traffic, she didnít have an accident which was lucky. No who is the better driver?
How many people drive in the cities all their lives, retire, buy a big 4x4 and caravan and drive around Australia. This is the biggest concern with me, as they have no experience towing, or towing on our country roads, passing traffic at such a speed, or traffic passing them so close and at those speeds.

ROAD CONDITIONS

The Government has us driving on sub-standard roads in the country (city roads Iíve covered in Speeding). As an example, in WA here there was an article from the Assistant Police Commissioner, saying that deaths in 110km zones had not decreased in 12 years, so they are going to have a blitz on speeding in country areas (wrote a letter to the West Australian, but it didnít get in). He basically blamed speeding for these deaths.
What about other factors like Fatigue? Inexperience? Distractions? Drink Driving? or animals? In country Australia we are driving on single lane roads, at speeds which are considered unsafe on city freeways that are multi-lanes and have barriers between each direction of traffic. On country roads, trees are within metres of the road, a simple accident like a blown tyre could cause the car the spear off into a tree killing the occupant, or worst still, occupants. If the Government wanted to lower the death toll (they will never stop deaths on our roads), they should look at how accidents in the country occur, head on collisions with other cars, single car collisions with trees, roll overs etc.. interstate roads should be dual or multi lane roads, with a substancual distance between any on coming traffic on the right, and trees on the left (American interstate highways come to mind).
Lastly, why is it the Government considers placing a speed camera at a "black spot" as fixing the problem? If that particular part of the road is a "black spot" why doesn't it fix the road?


I guess itís easier to make money than spend it. If the Government was so keen to lower road deaths, the roads we drive on would be world class, and all us drivers would be professionally trained.

PS Pete, I also have the complete story MOTOR magazine did on speeding, itís a very good read, Iíll email it to you if you want.
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Old 01-22-2003, 19:12   #9 (permalink)
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Yep, agree to long... you need to get straight to the point... bullet points if you can

Anyway... can I ask you all this question... who was happy to see Jet Ski's banned from the Harbour??

The reason I ask, is because I'm sure that some, maybe most don't like those things, and as a result they were banned... now some, maybe most, hate fast cars, as a result those people are punished. Motor Bikes, Fishing, Car Racing, Smoking, Drinking, Surfing... all have people that think things have to be changed... Face it, we are all in minority groups, and until all these groups get together it's not going to change!
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Old 01-22-2003, 19:46   #10 (permalink)
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The intent isn't to get the letter published. It's to get a reply. I thought about a short publishable version but the questions kept coming.......
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