ACT speed cameras unreliable and ineffective

SPEED cameras in Canberra are unreliable and their effectiveness in reducing speeding is questionable, according to a report released this afternoon by auditor-general Dr Maxine Cooper.

Dr Maxine Cooper

Dr Maxine Cooper. Photo by Silas Brown.

“There is a persistent speeding problem in the ACT, according to survey and infringement data, and this calls into question the collective and individual effectiveness of the ACT’s four speed camera systems,” Dr Cooper says.

The auditor-general found “uncertainties and problems” with each of the four types of cameras: mobile, mid-block, red light and speed camera combinations, and point-to-point cameras.

  • Mobile speed camera coverage is limited and overt which means the Government’s desired ‘anytime, anywhere’ effect whereby all motorists in all locations comply with posted speed signs is unlikely to be achieved.
  • Speed and red light speed cameras may not be located at the highest priority sites as their effectiveness has not been comprehensively evaluated.
  • Mid-block speed cameras are unlikely to be sited to achieve the best road safety results.
  • Point-to-point speed cameras sited in the ACT are experimental as there is little or no evidence to support their use in an urban environment or for such short sections of road. There is no evaluation plan for determining their effectiveness. Furthermore, their cost effectiveness is questionable and it is likely that there has been a three-fold increase in the cost per km of road treated from the initial design stage through to implementation.

The performance audit considered three key questions, including whether there are “the right number of speed cameras in the right places”. Dr Cooper says that is unlikely.

On the second question of how effective they are in reducing speeding, the auditor-general was unable to come to establish that the cameras are effective, due to the lack of accurate baseline data about the extent of the speeding problem.

“Speed camera reliability is poor, particularly for mobile speed cameras,” Dr Cooper says in response to the audit’s third question about reliability.

“This has led to escalating maintenance costs, limited camera availability and a greater number of rejected infringements,” she continues.

“Poor reliability has had no effect on the validity of infringements issued as the Government’s verification (adjudication) procedures are robust. However, there is a high rejection rate of infringements in the verification process and this indicates inefficiencies.”

The report also notes that according to Commonwealth data on road fatalities, ACT roads are the safest of any jurisdiction in Australia, and that ACT roads have become safer over the ten-year period to 2010.

The full report contains 16 recommendations.

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