A NEW generation of fixed speed cameras in unconventional roadside locations will target speeding motorists in a major rethink on road safety strategies.
The first hi-tech camera will start snapping motorists in a trial next month.
Up to 20 will be deployed across the state if that is successful. For the first time, the cameras will be positioned on open stretches of road. The state’s 77 red light/speed cameras are now mounted at intersections and pedestrian crossings.
Road Safety Minister Michael O’Brien insisted the initiative was not a “revenue raising” measure, with roadside signs warning of the cameras.
He said only a “screaming idiot” would not be aware of the new cameras. The first of the “mid-block” cameras – so-called because they will be set up midway down a street block – becomes operational next month on Glover Avenue, Mile End, near the Bakewell Underpass – where research shows most motorists ignore the 60km/h speed limit.
“These cameras are a new weapon in the State Government’s arsenal to reduce the road toll and they are a very effective weapon because they won’t cause resentment among motorists,” Mr O’Brien said.
“If the feedback from the Bakewell Underpass camera over the next six months is positive, I will be taking to Cabinet a proposal for a further rollout.
I can’t see why SA would be any different to Victoria, NSW or anywhere else in the world in using these cameras to deal with the road toll.
Mr O’Brien said the cameras would be located “anywhere we have an issue with fatalities and serious casualties” across the state.
“I think the number to eventually be rolled out will be determined by analysis of accident black spots but we could see as many as 18 to 20 new cameras,” he said.
Mr O’Brien said recent research had shown more than half of all motorists were speeding through the underpass.
“A recent seven day trial showed 58.5 per cent of 56,202 west-bound vehicles were exceeding the speed limit, 14 of whom were doing above 100km/h and were suspected of engaging in street racing,” he said.
If this experience was repeated next month when the camera is operating it could potentially raise almost $7 million in speeding fines a week.
But interstate experience shows such a revenue windfall is highly unlikely. Instead, the camera is likely to change driver behaviour so they stay within the speed limit.
Mr O’Brien said NSW data showed the incidence of speeding at locations where new mid-block cameras were installed fell by by 85.5 per cent within 12 months.
This showed the cameras, which cost $100,000, were about saving lives and not raking in revenue.
“The big savings will be in reducing the cost of road deaths, treating injuries and the emotional stress suffered by the community as a result,” Mr O’Brien said.
According to Adelaide University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research, “black spots” which could be targeted by the cameras include:
WAKEFIELD St, city.
THE PARADE, Norwood
UNLEY Rd, Unley.
PROSPECT Rd, Prospect.
GOODWOOD Rd, various suburbs.
GORGE Rd, Adelaide Hills.
VICTOR Harbor Rd.
PORT Wakefield Rd, various locations.
STURT Hwy – DUKES Hwy.
They also could be erected on expressways such as near the Heysen Tunnels and various locations on the Southern Expressway.
The Centre For Automotive Study said mid-block speed cameras were “very effective” in reducing driver speed and crashes. “They are fixed and signposted so you can put them anywhere on the state’s road network where you have high accident rates and people will know they are there,” centre senior research fellow Dr Jeremy Woolley said.
“So rolling out these new cameras will be an effective way of decreasing the road toll.”
Dr Woolley also highlighted a 2005 evaluation report of fixed mid-block cameras in the UK which found: “Fixed camera sites were more effective at reducing casualties than mobile cameras.”
The state’s largest motoring organisation has also thrown its support behind the Government’s new camera strategy.
The RAA said motorists would appreciate being informed by signs in advance of passing a fixed speed camera. The organisation would be happy to sit down with the police and Government to identify black spots to be targeted by the mid-block cameras.”Our view is speed cameras are a part of the overall road safety strategy,” the RAA’s principal engineer, Peter Tsokas, said.
“And fixed speed cameras have been shown interstate to be effective in reducing speeds, particularly when used in locations which have a history of crashes.”
Once the expected 20 new cameras are installed the total number of fixed and mobile speed detection cameras in SA will reach 115.
The biggest revenue-raising fixed camera is located at the intersection of South Tce and West Tce in the city. Last year motorists caught speeding by the camera were fined a total $1,501,423.
So far this year, 73 people have died on the State’s roads compared with 46 at the same time last year.