Speed camera warning signs could soon become a thing of the past after advice provided to Transport for NSW suggested more lives could be saved without having them. Here's what we know.
The NSW Government recently announced it was introducing mobile phone detection cameras, which would be rolled out from late 2019 across the state. It's part of a plan to reduce fatalities by 30 per cent in two years and its trial has already been pretty effective. Here's what drivers in NSW - and other states - need to know.
Wait, what's happening with speed camera warning signs?
NSW's transport minister Andrew Constance has told 7News he's considering doing away with speed camera warning signs in NSW, the only state in Australia to still have them.
"The number of people being injured is ridiculous and yet we're the only Australian state that has this signage," MP Constance told 7News.
"People need to understand they can be caught anywhere on the road network at any time doing the wrong thing. We want people to experience the same threat as the random breath test."
It's potentially in response to an audit provided by Auditor-General for New South Wales, Margaret Crawford, which said the inclusion of warning signs "has made it harder to identify and maintain suitable MSCs [mobile speed camera] locations, and impeded their use for enforcement in both traffic directions and in school zones."
"A key aspect of providing an effective general network deterrence is creating a perception that speeding can be enforced anywhere at any time. Multiple warning signs have increased compliance at the sites and locations that MSCs currently operate but reduced the likelihood of achieving a general network deterrence — the main purpose of MSCs," Crawford's report reads.
"This is because the use of signs reduces the perceived risk of detection, thereby limiting the ability of MSCs to moderate driver behaviour at other locations."
For most people, however, a warning sign serves as a reminder to check your speed and correct it if it's nearing or over the legal limit. It's prompted many to consider the move as a cash grab to generate more revenue in fines and the NRMA itself is not a fan of the proposal.
"We believe warning signs are necessary and essential... [they] act as a crucial education tool to alert motorists that they're driving in dangerous locations," NRMA spokesperson, Peter Khoury, told the press on 4 November.
"There's no point getting a fine in the mail two weeks later if the whole purpose is to slow people down in these locations. The argument that people slow down then speed up again doesn't hold weight. The government this year will collect around $200 million from these fixed and mobile cameras alone."
The NRMA pointed to Victoria's death toll in roads, which doesn't have any warning signs, as being up 33.5 per cent this year.
At the end of 2017, there were 139 speed cameras across 110 locations in NSW and 191 red light cameras at 171 intersections with more to be installed throughout the remainder of the year.
NSW also plans to be the first state to roll out mobile phone-detecting and there are no plans to introduce warning signs for these cameras.
So, when should I worry?
We reached out to Transport for NSW to confirm whether it was intending to remove warning signs in the near future and it denied any immediate plans.
"The NSW Government has a strong road safety record and that will continue to be the case. There has been no change to Government policy," a spokesperson told us.
It's understood the warning signs will be staying for now as any move to remove them from NSW roads would have to determined by the state government's Cabinet and then passed through the appropriate state laws.
While this might leave you feeling at ease for now, phone-detecting cameras, due to be rolled out in the state before the end of the year, won't come with warning signs.
The NSW Government recently announced it was introducing phone-detection cameras around the state after a successful trial earlier in 2019. The new technology uses AI to detect drivers using their phones or other touch-enabled devices illegally. Unlike speed cameras, signs won't warn you if one is in the area. Lifehacker Australia decided to see if any other states were considering similar measures and it turns out they might be.
Where do the fines go?
The concern for many reading the news is that this is an attempt to increase revenue for the state government without much concern for the safety aspect. It's understood fines received from fixed and mobile speed and red light cameras are given to the Community Road Safety Fund. This pool of money used to fund education programs for promoting or improving road safety as well as undertaking reviews of state programs related to it.
Fines issued by police officers go into the regular government consolidated fund.
Ever driven past an average speed camera and stressed that it had caught you going just a little too fast? Turns out you never actually had to worry about it at all.