New speed cameras mightn’t trim road toll – but think about the revenue raising


Alf likes to think his superior motoring skills entitle him to break the country’s speed limits, but that everybody else on the roads should comply with the law.

Hence he is delighted to learn the authorities are considering introducing point-to-point (P2P) cameras, to deal to every other tosser on the roads.

These devices can calculate how fast a vehicle is travelling over a prolonged distance, whereas the existing speed cameras can detect a vehicle’s speed only at a certain spot.

They are already used in parts of Australia and across the United Kingdom and Europe.

As Alf understands it, the system works by using two cameras to record images of all vehicles as they enter and exit a pre-determined stretch of road.

The time-stamped images are matched using automatic number-plate recognition software.

Each vehicle’s average speed within the corridor is then determined by dividing the total distance between the camera points by the time taken to travel between them.

If the speed calculated is higher than the enforcement speed, an infringement notice can be issued.

The Poms set up these P2P speed cameras on corridors with a history of high-speed crash rates.

The result, we are told, has been a significant reductions in fatal and serious-injury crashes.

Researchers reckon similar results could be expected here.

The Transport Ministry’s “2010-2020 Safer Journeys” strategy document recommends the government investigate introducing P2P cameras and road safety researchers have prepared a report for the New Zealand Transport Agency on the merits of the system.

The report puts the cost of installing the hi-tech speed detection system at $1.1 million, with additional running costs of around $850,000 a year, but the researchers say the benefits would outweigh the costs.

“Safety benefits observed overseas are likely to be replicated within New Zealand on corridors that meet suitable criteria,” their report says.

Data reported by Stuff show police issued more than 457,000 speed-camera-infringement notices in the year ended June 2010.

But international research suggests spot-speed camera systems of the type used here have limited impact in terms of modifying driver behaviour.

Alf can understand why.

He slows down for fixed-point cameras, which are credited with being effective at reducing speeds at the camera site.

But when he has passed the camera he puts his foot down again, in line with research which suggests drivers return to their approach speed within 500m of passing the camera.

The road safety researchers’ report accordingly says –

“The P2P speed camera system has significant advantages over fixed-point speed cameras in that it extends the speed enforcement coverage over a greater area. P2P cameras also produce a more uniform speed profile, with driver speed compliance over the route rather than at a single point.”

Naturally, Alf will be voting in favour of this gadgetry, when the necessary legislative changes come before the House.

Mind you, he will be tempted to include a clause that exempts Members of Parliament from all speed limits, although he recognises the public might kick up a fuss about this and squawk about MP’s perks and privilege and so on.

He is also prepared to have a chat with road safety campaigner Clive Mathew-Wilson, who questions whether introducing such a camera system would make roads safer.

“P2P cameras are unlikely to make much difference to the road toll because the vast majority of fatalities occur at speeds below the legal limit,” he said.

It would be more effective to change the roads than to try to change the behaviour of motorists.

Change the roads?

We are talking about big bucks with that idea, aren’t we?

It does seem to Alf that these P2P cameras would be much cheaper, an important consideration when The Boss is so keen on getting the budget back into surplus in the next few years.

Maybe it won’t reduce the road toll.

But it should be a nice little revenue raiser, and the Government needs a good flow of dosh from sources other than taxes in these sluggish economic times.

The trick is ensuring the system somehow is shaped to ensure MPs can continue speeding while everybody else is obliged to slow down.

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