SECRET speed camera vehicles with no warning signs, point-to-point speed cameras, alcohol ignition interlock devices and new speed traps will be part of Queensland’s biggest road safety blitz next year.
Police will use undercover vehicles – in a variety of models, makes, ages and colours, with no advance warning or departure signs at the site – in an all-out bid to lower the state’s shocking road toll, which is likely to reach 340 this year.
Premier Bligh has announced State Government plans to embark on one of the most stringent and co-ordinated road safety campaigns in Queensland’s history.
“I would be happy if we didn’t make a dollar out of this because that would mean that people weren’t speeding,” she told reporters today at the opening of a new rail extension at Varsity Lakes on the Gold Coast.
The State Government will reveal details of its new two-year Road Safety Action Plan today, including unprecedented measures aimed at cracking down on speeding and drink driving.
Premier Anna Bligh told The Sunday Mail it was clear the present speed and drink-driving messages were not getting through to some motorists.
She made no apology for resorting to sneaky, covert tactics to nab leadfoot drivers.
“Despite pleas from police, emergency personnel, road safety experts and even victims’ families, a dangerous minority continue to ignore the road safety basics,” Ms Bligh said.
“My message is simple: it’s got to stop. These measures are about doing what we can to make that happen.”
Among the tough new measures to be announced today:
• Point-to-point cameras, to catch motorists who slow down before a camera then speed up.
• Red-light cameras which also measure the car’s speed.
• A third of mobile speed camera vehicles to be unmarked and undercover.
• A system of alcohol ignition interlock devices, which cost between $2000 and $3000, to be rolled out next year.
The Government will finally act on a three-year-old promise to force repeat drink-drivers to fit the alcohol ignition locks to their vehicles.
Offenders will be made to pay for the devices themselves, and the car will not start if the driver has been drinking.
They are used in Victoria, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and South Australia.
“International research shows that re-offences are reduced by 73 per cent when these alcohol interlockers are used,” Ms Bligh said. “The bottom line is that means this scheme will save lives.”
The Premier said the interlockers will be mandatory for offenders convicted of:
• Driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 or more.
• Failing to provide a specimen of breath or blood.
• Committing their second drink-driving offence within five years.
• Operating a vehicle dangerously while under the influence.
About 35 per cent of drink drivers booked in 2008-09 were repeat offenders.
Ms Bligh said point-to-point cameras had never been used in Queensland, but were a success overseas.
Two cameras, 1km or 2km apart, measure a vehicle’s average speed.
Ms Bligh said all red-light cameras would be replaced by digital cameras that could also read the car’s speed.
In most red-light offences, motorists have sped up across the intersection, and will now get at least two tickets.
There also will be new sites for red-light cameras.
Industry experts predict the digital cameras will produce an extra $80 million a year in revenue.
All the new measures were approved at the final Cabinet meeting of the year last week – but the cost of the road safety plan has yet to be worked out.
Police Minister Neil Roberts said introducing covert enforcement for speed would be a huge deterrent, as motorists would have no idea where or when they might be caught.
That old wreck parked on the side of the road might well be a mobile speed camera vehicle in 2010-11, he said.
“Cabinet approved a maximum of 30 per cent of mobile speed camera hours be undertaken using covert speed camera vehicles in a variety of models, makes and colours with no advance warning or departure signs at the camera site,” Mr Roberts said.
“These reforms will increase the detection of motorists who speed or run red lights by improving the unpredictability and number of hours of enforcement conducted.
“You will be more likely than ever to get caught if you are speeding.”
Ms Bligh said she wasn’t concerned about the tough new measures affecting her already record-low popularity.
“What I’m worried about is the people who are dying and being injured on our roads.
Police ran a road toll campaign this year, Below 299 in 2009, but a fatality in north Queensland yesterday raised the number of deaths to 315.
“People are not only a danger to themselves, they’re a danger to everybody else.
“I want my family safe on the roads, and so does every other Queensland family,” she said.